Durban’s ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) conference witnessed a surprising twist as Dina Pule, the once-dismissed former minister of communications, made a resounding return to prominence. Elected as the deputy secretary-general, Pule’s resurgence shocked many, given her past controversies and dismissal in 2013 due to parliamentary findings of dishonesty and abuse of power.
Once a high-ranking minister, Pule’s fall from grace saw her maintain a low profile until her name unexpectedly appeared on the ballot during the recent ANCWL conference. The new Women’s League president, Sisisi Tolashe, hails from the Eastern Cape and also serves as the Deputy Minister in the Presidency. Other key leadership positions were filled by deputy president Lungi Gcabashe, secretary-general Nokuthula Nqaba, and treasurergeneral Maqueen Letsoha-Mathae.
Thembeka Mchunu, who had been considered a frontrunner for the Women’s League presidency, faced an unexpected shift in support during the voting process. Mchunu, wife of Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu, found her prospects dwindle during the conference.
Political intrigue abounded, with rumors of strategic plans to address dynamics within the KwaZulu-Natal province. The source suggested that Pule’s nomination may have been an effort to balance factionalism within the ANC and demonstrate impartiality among competing slates.
Analysts, including Dr. Fikile Vilakazi from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, viewed Pule’s appointment as a calculated move to avoid promoting factional divisions within the party. The branches’ preference for Tolashe over Mchunu became evident during the conference, influencing the final outcome.
However, some analysts pointed out that the leadership elections within ANCWL, Youth, and Veterans Leagues have limited impact on the party’s overall decision-making process. The real locus of power lies within the National Executive Committee (NEC), which already leans heavily in favor of President Cyril Ramaphosa. Consequently, the NEC’s decisions will ultimately shape the ANC’s direction and policies.
Amidst the leadership shuffle, concerns arose about the leagues’ priorities. Analysts urged the ANCWL to focus on pressing national issues such as economic challenges, infrastructure deficiencies, and the privatization of state-owned enterprises.
As Dina Pule’s surprising resurgence reverberates through ANC ranks, the party faces the ongoing task of consolidating power and addressing critical national concerns. The ANCWL’s newfound leadership may play a role in navigating the party’s complex dynamics, but it is the NEC that holds the key to the ANC’s future course.