Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale. Picture: SOWETAN
Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale. Picture: SOWETAN

THE African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee on Sunday wielded the axe over the Limpopo and ANC Youth League executive committees, uprooting the structures associated with expelled youth league president Julius Malema.

The national executive disbanded the two structures that were active in an abortive campaign to remove Jacob Zuma from his position as party president at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.

This is the first significant move by the new national executive committee elected by popular mandate in Mangaung.

ANC sources said on Sunday there was overwhelming support for the call to disband the structures at the four-day lekgotla of the committee, which started on Friday. The Limpopo provincial executive committee campaigned against Mr Zuma in the run-up to the Mangaung conference, with its leaders declaring as early as 2010 that they wanted leadership changes in the party.

The decision to disband the Limpopo committee is expected to be followed by the removal of Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale from his post. Mr Mathale was chairman of the now disbanded provincial executive.

Losing the party base makes Mr Mathale vulnerable as the province’s premier.

The decision to disband Limpopo follows an ANC national working committee probe during the past two months, which focused on the state of the party in the province. A report on provincial party branches prepared for the committee detailed the "dysfunctional state of the organisation and paralysis in Limpopo".

The report is likely to have influenced the national executive committee’s decision as it raises the matter of what it called Mr Mathale’s "grand-scale purging" of opponents.

It flags the provincial ANC leadership’s support for Mr Malema during his court appearances as problematic. It criticises the provincial leadership for supporting Mr Malema, allowing him to use Limpopo as "political base" to attack the ANC and its leaders.

It states that the Limpopo provincial executive was implicated in factional battles and used ANC structures as "spheres of influence". The various factions have had an adverse effect on the functioning and integrity of the party in the province.

It warned that communities would lose faith in the ANC.

The report is scathing in its criticism of Mr Mathale, saying he failed to differentiate between "empowerment and corruption".