Naming of Didiza for mayor fails to quell tensions in Tshwane ANC

BUSES were burnt after protests again turned violent on Monday night as ANC members in Tshwane objected to a mayoral candidate being imposed on them.

Earlier the party confirmed that one of its members had been killed in Tshwane at the weekend.

Even after Thoko Didiza was officially named as a “compromise” candidate for the August elections there were more reports of confrontations on Monday as members refused to accept her candidature. On Monday night there were reports that the entrance to Atteridgeville had been blocked with burning tyres and rocks, while buses were set alight in Mamelodi.

READ THIS: Eight things to know about Thoko Didiza‚ ANC mayoral hopeful in Tshwane

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte confirmed a party member had been killed and several others injured on Sunday as members fought over nominations.

The violence continued in Tshwane on Monday as a group of disgruntled members threw stones at metro police and overturned one of their vehicles after officers had fled.

Metro police spokesman senior superintendent Isaac Mahamba confirmed the incident, but could not say whether ANC members were responsible.

At a briefing announcing Didiza as the candidate, Duarte said it was now up to the regional leaders, led by outgoing mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa, who is the ANC’s Tshwane chairman, to persuade branches to support Didiza.

Disgruntled ANC members are understood to be unhappy with Didiza as she was not chosen by branches. Didiza was the “compromise” after the Gauteng provincial executive committee and the Tshwane regional executive committee differed on who the candidate should be.

Duarte said tensions centred on Ramokgopa and his regional deputy, Mapiti Matsena. The “intensity of the competition” between the two for the nomination had led to a breakdown in their relationship, Duarte said.

The two now had to persuade branches to unite behind Didiza.

READ THIS: NEWS ANALYSIS: Tshwane candidate a pickle for ANC

Matsena was one of the names tabled for mayoral candidate, while Ramokgopa was not. However, he is a candidate for councillor. Didiza, who is originally from Durban, was appointed agriculture and land reform minister in 1999 and public works minister in 2006, in former president Thabo Mbeki’s cabinets. She was one of the 10 ministers who resigned after he was recalled by the ANC in 2008.

She is currently one of three House chairpersons in Parliament assisting the presiding officers and is an ANC representative on the Judicial Service Commission.

Some ANC members in Tshwane have raised questions about Didiza’s ability to take the leadership in the city as she was not from the area. But the ANC said she had been a resident in the city and had led a branch in the region until she was re-elected to the party’s national executive committee.

Duarte dismissed claims that Didiza was a “celebrity” candidate parachuted into the position. “She’s a candidate with an extremely deep level of experience in governance and to simply cast her away as a celebrity is suggesting she’s not competent,” Duarte said.

“She’s extremely competent and she will be able to lead the mayoral committee very ably and ensure that the integrated development programme for Tshwane is implemented and that is why we thought of her,” she said.

The impasse arose on Saturday when a special ANC national executive committee meeting failed to name a candidate as the provincial executive had disagreed with the nominees from the regional executive. Party officials met on Sunday to trash thrash out a candidate with Didiza emerging as the choice.

Ramokgopa on Monday said the region was “unanimous and enthusiastically” behind Didiza. But the infighting in the party has made it vulnerable to losses to the opposition as Tshwane is seen as one of the metros in which the DA might erode ANC support.



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