Lesufi wants an end to ANC devouring itself

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi is not known for being media shy, but for the past few weeks he has kept relatively silent on his campaign to be elected the ANC’s deputy Gauteng chairperson.

Lesufi is in a tight battle with former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau and Gauteng economic development MEC Lebogang Maile.

Usually, the coveted post is chairperson, but with Gauteng Premier David Makhura tipped for the position, the race for second has consumed the province in the past few weeks. Former Tshwane mayor Kgosientso “Sputla” Ramokgopa has been touted as a possible challenger to Makhura, but a late start has hobbled his campaign.

The Gauteng ANC’s conference next month is expected to usher in a new era of politics. The province has long been dominated by battles between Paul Mashatile, Nomvula Mokonyane and Angie Motshekga, who have all moved to the national stage.

The provincial race took a nasty turn recently when Maile’s supporters accused Makhura of trying to derail his chances. This was after Makhura announced that the Special Investigating Unit would probe alleged corruption in Maile’s department.

With Gauteng’s five regions holding their conferences next weekend, Lesufi’s lobbyists predictably insist he is leading the race.

However, Lesufi does not want to talk about numbers, merely asserting that he is happy he has been so well received across the province, despite keeping a low profile.

“This is not about me. It is always about the ANC and the people of Gauteng. It is about the party choosing its best cadres to reclaim its glory in the province. I have been shunted left, right and centre in my life, always following whichever way the ANC decides to go,” Lesufi said.

“In the past few weeks, I have focused on education, which is close to my heart.

“We have been opening top-quality schools every month, worth R80 million each. I have not been quiet, but in service to Gauteng residents.”

According to Lesufi, what should matter is that the party elects a team that will claw back the losses inflicted in the 2016 local government elections, when the ANC lost two metros to the DA. He said he was not willing to be part of an inward-looking organisation that was eating itself, instead of focusing on the elections next year.

“If it’s a self-inflicted battle to devour the ANC. I won’t be available for that. South Africans are tired of us fighting.”

He said he accepted to stand for the deputy chairperson post after he was “lynched” when he declined a nomination to serve on the national executive committee (NEC), at the party’s elective conference at Nasrec in December.

“Many people felt I betrayed them and I was selfish for refusing to move into the NEC. But I tried to explain that age is still on my side and I wanted to focus on the province, especially on education. For me, the key question is: what kind of Gauteng do we want to see in 30 years?”