The ANC’s newly announced candidates for the premiership in the Free State and in Mpumalanga have conceded that it will not be easy for them when they take up their positions — considering they are women.

On Wednesday, the party announced new candidates in the two provinces. They would replace Ace Magashule (Free State) and David Mabuza (Limpopo), who were elected as secretary-general and deputy president, respectively, at the December ANC conference.

Magushule announced the two candidates‚ Sisi Ntombela and Refilwe Mtshweni‚ at a post-National Working Committee (NWC) meeting media briefing at the ANC headquarters‚ Luthuli House.

Making their first media address after the announcement‚ the two thanked the party for trusting in female leadership to potentially command the two provinces. Ntombela said: "I would like to thank the organisation for making sure that I am one of the Thuma mina ["send me"] to lead the Free State. I know that it is not going to be easy, just because I am a woman. I know that it will be tough‚ but I promise that I will do my best".

She said she would make sure she delivered on the mandates that ANC deployees were given by its branches during the December conference — if elected.

Adding to that‚ Mtshweni said‚ if she became the Mpumalanga premier‚ she would do her best to steer the "ship" in the right direction. "We need to take into cognisance the plight of our people and make sure we are addressing challenges they are facing."

Eastern Cape fate

The announcement of their candidacy followed an NWC meeting held on Monday‚ which‚ among other things‚ elaborated on numerous reports‚ including the long-awaited Sbu Ndebele Commission report on the Eastern Cape elective congress which elected an Oscar Mabuyane-led provincial executive committee (PEC).

Magashule announced that the fate of the Eastern Cape PEC now lies with the National Executive Committee (NEC). "The NWC noted the Sbu Ndebe Report and it will be put to the NEC for consideration." He said the ANC has also noted that the unhappy Eastern Cape group had approached the Constitutional Court to seek relief.

It is understood that the group is frustrated by the protracted implementation of the Sbu Ndebele report recommendations. TimesLIVE has it on good authority that the NWC has endorsed recommendations of the report to dissolve the PEC and for a provincial task team to be formed. The final decision will‚ however‚ be made by the NEC.

"Because of the internal processes of the ANC‚ the report must still be before the NEC. In terms of the Constitutional Court matter‚ we are aware of that. We will be going to the Eastern Cape to engage members of the ANC," Magashule said. "It was a court decision that with the Eastern Cape matter, internal ANC processes must be finalised. The Sbu Ndebele report is part of that internal process. That panel was decided by the NEC, therefore, the report must go to the NEC."