Colesberg – The African National Congress has criticised Northern Cape premier Sylvia Lucas for her urgent cabinet reshuffle which it said betrayed the party’s trust.
“The ANC notes with disbelief actions of the Northern Cape Premier to reshuffle her cabinet without any consultation with the ANC,” spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said on Thursday.
It was a flagrant abuse of her office that would divide the ANC, he said.
Lucas changed her executive on Wednesday, on the eve of the provincial elective conference this weekend.
Lucas is contesting the post of provincial ANC chairperson against secretary Zamani Saul, who is expected to win. Lucas is Northern Cape ANC treasurer.
The reshuffle was seen as a purge of Saul supporters in the provincial cabinet.
Saul described the changes as an “ambush” and said they would summon her to a meeting. He said Lucas had neither consulted them nor the alliance partners about her decision.
Kodwa warned that ANC deployees should not abuse their positions to deepen divisions.
“Her unbridled arrogance is a betrayal of trust with the ANC – the organisation that deployed her as premier,” Kodwa said.
Fired finance MEC, Mac Jack said the reshuffle was an attempt by Lucas to intimidate Saul supporters.
“This thing has been coming since November 2016, when people saw that there are people thinking differently as far as the conference is concerned and it was part of opposing groups’ strategy to intimidate us with reshuffling,” Jack said.
He was confident Saul would win. He said he took solace in the fact that his sacking did not come from the ANC.
Jack would not comment on allegations that Lucas consulted President Jacob Zuma ahead of the reshuffle. He said Lucas’ faction knew they did not have enough numbers to ensure she was elected chairperson.
Lucas supporters had accused Saul of manipulating branch nomination meetings and audits, and cloning members. Their attempts to again postpone the conference failed after ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe gave it the go-ahead.
The event was seen as part of consolidating support ahead of the ANC elective conference in December.
Saul had said ANC’s history had shown that the deputy president took over from the president. This had been seen as an expression of support for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Lucas had the support of the ANC Women’s and Youth league and was expected to back Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Meanwhile, by late afternoon on Thursday, the conference was yet to start. Officials blamed the accreditation process. Security was tight and there were at least four checkpoints before entering the Colesberg Sports complex.
The delegates that arrived included Saul supporters demanding new leaders. Several cars had the signs #Zamdash, for Zamani Saul and Dash Nxanga. Nxanga had been nominated for the position of ANC provincial secretary.