The youth league has curiously punted the name of Communications Minister Faith Muthambi as one of its preferred candidates to take over should its push for Mathabatha to leave succeed.
This week, the ANCYL in the province announced that it had decided to boycott Mathabatha’s 60th birthday celebrations.
However, the call has been seen by some in the ANC as part of the party’s succession battle, as Mathabatha is known to prefer Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed party president Jacob Zuma as president of the ANC and the country.
Mathabatha has previously been out in the open declaring his support for Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma.
“It is the culture of the ANC that the deputy president must be the successor of the current sitting president,” Mathabatha has said on many occasions when asked for his views on the matter.
This declaration is believed not to have gone down well with the Limpopo Youth League, which is known to be strongly allied to Zuma and ANCYL president Collen Maine – a vocal ally of the president.
In an interview with the Sunday Independent, ANCYL provincial spokesperson Matome Moremi said Mathabatha was the “worst performing premier” as compared to his predecessors, Ngwako Ramatlhodi, Sello Moloto and Cassel Mathale respectively.
Moremi said: “Limpopo province is on autopilot under Mathabatha’s leadership. He failed the province, both administratively and politically. He was a compromise candidate (after Mathale) who failed to unite the ANC.
“We have decided to boycott the Premier’s 60th birthday celebrations. We cannot celebrate with a person who undermines the youth in the province. We don’t want a person who has a vendetta with the youth.
“His administration doesn’t advance youth programmes. Under his leadership, the medical school at the University of Limpopo is being discredited because of his clumsy old leadership style,” said Moremi.
Mathabatha, however, said he was deployed by the ANC and nobody else.
He said if he was recalled as premier and redeployed elsewhere, “so be it”, because he was a “disciplined comrade of the ANC” who would not defy the organisation.
The ANCYL in Limpopo, through its spin doctor Moremi, said it would not have any problem should President Zuma replace Mathabatha with former ANCYL leaders such as Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and former ANC Provincial Secretary Joe Maswanganyi.
“We demand former leaders that we have mentioned because they will understand youth empowerment, unlike Mathabatha,” Moremi added.
Muthambi has refused to comment.
ANC MP Maswanganyi said: “You can’t deny the ANC’s mandate; as its volunteer, therefore, if deployed to any position, I will comply with honour.”
Zuma’s spokesperson, Bongani Ngqulunga, reiterated that he didn’t know anything about Zuma axing the Limpopo premier. Neither does he know about the reported cabinet reshuffle.
Earlier, ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said it would be disingenuous to recall Mathabatha given the current ANC problems.
However, party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said: “I hear this from you. And I also don’t know of any cabinet reshuffle by President Zuma.”
Mantashe condemned public spats and called for unity within the ruling party.
A spokesperson for Mathabatha condemned the ANCYL. “They (Youth League) were never invited to attend the premier’s birthday celebrations.
“We are not going to entertain the wishes of the people who always wanted the premier to leave his office since day one following his appointment,” said Phuti Seloba.
“The premier never told us about his removal, therefore that suggestion or wishes remains a rumour to us.”