Seasoned ANC activist and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas could return to provincial politics, that is if his Uitenhage ANC branch has its way.
This is after ANC’s Ward 46 in Nelson Mandela Metro nominated Jonas the former deputy finance minister to take over from Phumulo Masualle as the next provincial chairman. The ANC in the province will hold an elective conference in July.
The branch called Mzwabantu Fanayo branch in Uitenhage is where Jonas was born, and remains an active member according to its chairman, Simphiwo Madlavu.
Madlavu told the Dispatch that at a branch meeting held recently, Jonas’ name as Masualle’s possible successor came out tops.
“It is time to take a new direction with new faces and fresh ideas to lead the the province so we are looking at comrades such as bhuti Mcebisi to take the lead.
“Also on the question of credibility … the ANC as wounded as it is, will require people with credibility such as comrade Jonas to bring the ANC in the province back into the map of national politics,” Madlavu said.
ANC branches do not usually talk openly about nominations – with their wishes only revealed at conference, but Madlavu’s branch made an exception to the rule.
For this reason it is not clear how many other branches have nominated the former deputy minister, who was dropped from President Jacob Zuma’s executive during the recent cabinet reshuffle. Jonas subsequently also resigned as an ANC parliamentarian.
However, Jonas’ spokesman and confidante Nkosohlanga Mboniswa, who worked as a director in Jonas’ office while he was deputy minister, told the Dispatch that Jonas was not keen to return to the provincial political stage.
“Mr Jonas has no interest of serving in the provincial ANC leadership, not at this stage and he will respect party nomination processes to unfold in this regard so anything is speculation for now,” said Mboniswa.
He also said that Jonas has since moved his ANC membership to the Gonubie branch where he currently resides.
Should Jonas accept nomination, it will not be the first time he contests for the provincial chairmanship after he gave it a go at the 2009 Riverpark conference where he lost to Masualle.
Said Madlavu: “Yes he was contesting before [and lost] but circumstances are different now we believe he is one of those who can assist to take the province forward given the alternatives that are there.”
Masualle is expected to run for another term and is likely to be challenged contested by provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane, who is said to be eyeing the position.
ANC members in the province are deeply divided between the supporters of Masualle and Mabuyane, with different regional executives declaring support for either candidate. Jonas – if he accepts nomination – could come in as a a possible “third way”, a compromise candidate seen to be a unifier of opposing camps.
On Sunday, Jonas will return to Uitenhage where he will be a keynote speaker at a rally organised by the SA Communist Party to mark the commemoration of the 24th anniversary of Chris Hani’s death.
He will share the stage with deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and also SACP provincial secretary Xolile Nqatha.
The SACP in the Eastern Cape was the first ANC alliance partner to criticise President Jacob Zuma’s close links with the Gupta family when the President Zuma was in East London to address an alliance summit at the Osner Hotel last year.
It is here where Zuma defended his son Duduzane’s association with the Saxonworld based family, saying they were the only people who came to his son’s rescue when he needed experiential learning post his studies. Jonas is a former SACP leader.
According to the Mzwabantu Fanayo branch, Jonas is the gutsy kind of leader who has proven himself as a man of integrity and principle.
Also, said Madlavu, it was about time that a leader of the ANC in the province becomes someone from one of the provinces’ metros – Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City which contribute 75% to the province’s economy.“As such, Jonas, who also served as EC MEC for economic development is that man who understands the provincial economy and possesses capacity to establish a coherent relationship between provincial government and business,” Madlavu said.
But this branch will need the buy-in of their regional leadership.
Nelson Mandela Bay regional secretary Themba Xathula, known to be close to Jonas, who was not available for comment yesterday has previously said the region was not ready to pronounce on their provincial leadership preferences.
However, the region last month endorsed PEC member, Andile Lungisa, to contest for the position of provincial secretary in the July conference but would not say who their preferred candidate for chairmanship was. — firstname.lastname@example.org