Mabuza will be contesting the position of ANC deputy president in December.
He is expected to contest for the position at the ruling party’s elective conference in December on the same ticket as former AU Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma‚ whose backers want her to be elected ANC president.
It is understood that Mabuza may rope in former ANC youth league deputy president Ronald Lamola as part of the new provincial leadership collective that will rule Mpumalanga but that it is Ngomane that he really wants to succeed him.
An insider with intimate knowledge of the succession plan but speaking on condition of anonymity said: “That is certainly the plan. It’s a done deal as a far as we are concerned. Of course there will be those who will object but they are in the minority. Mabuza does not work with people he cannot trust. He [Ngomane] knows everything about Mabuza.”
Provincial secretary Mandla Ndlovu said if Mabuza were to be elected deputy president‚ the province would have to convene a special provincial general council – comprised of branches – to elect a new chairman.
He would not confirm nor deny that Ngomane was Mabuza’s choice as the next Mpumalanga ANC chairman but suggested that discussions to the contrary would not be entertained.
“I can’t say whether Pat is a candidate or not. It is his right to stand [for the position]. We are waiting for the national leadership to give us guidelines [for branch general meetings and nominations of leaders]. The only things we are discussing are policies and the unity of the ANC‚” said Ndlovu.
Mabuza has held Mpumalanga in an iron grip since he assumed power in 2008 and he is understood to prefer a carefully managed transition of power to Ngomane in order to hold the province together beyond him assuming a national leadership role.
Lamola recently reconciled with Mabuza following tensions arising from his decision to contest Collen Maine for the position of ANC youth league president in 2015. Lamola contested Maine despite the disapproval of Mabuza‚ who backed Maine.
The ANC youth league in the province has publicly come out in support of Lamola to assume a leadership role in the province but the league is widely expected to toe the line when Ngomane is elected successor to Mabuza. Lamola was not available to comment. Ngomane was coy when asked about succeeding Mabuza.
He said that he was not entitled to any position in the ANC‚ arguing that‚ like all other leaders‚ he would have to be deployed and receive the support of fellow comrades were he to be considered for any position.
“I would never take on a responsibility where there is no consensus from all the regions of the province. If my name would cause any divisions in the ANC‚ then I would rather not participate in that process‚” said Ngomane.
Talk of Ngomane’s imminent rise to power is so rife in Mpumalanga that even opposition party leaders acknowledge their existence.
EFF Mpumalanga leader Collen Sedibe‚ a former ally of Mabuza and Ngomane turned staunch critic‚ said of the succession plan: “I have heard that from some people in the ANC. It is highly possible. Ngomane knows everything about Mabuza. They are very close.”