Motlanthe won’t settle
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has publicly rejected any proposals for a deal with President Jacob Zuma that would see both himself and Zuma remain in their positions.
Following his nomination by several ANC branches across the country in the past month, Motlanthe took to the Eastern Cape to tell the public for the first time that, although he would not openly campaign, the branches should nominate him.
Up to now, he has only whispered this message through lobbyists.
Eastern Cape is the ANC’s second-largest province and largely divided on who they would support for party leader. This week has seen party leaders jostling for support.
Motlanthe told about 1 000 ANC Youth League supporters at the league’s 68th anniversary rally in Mbizana in the rural Eastern Cape yesterday that leaders who accepted deals to be on slates (lists of preferred leaders), turned out to be “weaker”.
He said: “Today in the ANC we take away the right of members to elect leadership because today we come with slates and we say to members ‘this is the slate and you must elect according to the slate’.
When we do that, we are taking away the right of members to elect leaders of the ANC.
Now, by taking that right away, our leaders would be weaker.
“Our leaders would now be junior to the compilers of this slate.”
He said those compiling the slate would place certain conditions on support for the leader.
“Once you accept the conditions, how will you lead them tomorrow?”
He added that those compiling slates wouldn’t be afraid to remove leaders once they were unhappy.
“If the members express their will freely, then you can stand before them and say ‘I am your servant, you elected me’.”
Supporters of a second term for Zuma have said that they would nominate Motlanthe to remain deputy president if he doesn’t challenge Zuma for the top spot.
Motlanthe’s lobbyists previously said he was unhappy with such an arrangement because it would take away the right of branches to nominate their leaders.
Motlanthe also pleased the crowd when he invoked the memory of the longest-serving ANC leader, Oliver Tambo, by saying people showed their real colours when they were in power.
“Once you are in power you will only get to know us for who we are by the manner in which we exercise power,” he said.
According to him, Tambo’s legacy was that he could keep the ANC together for more than 30 years in exile.
“That is what we must emulate, all of us, the generosity, the spirit, the courage to stand for the truth all the time.”
Tambo’s daughter, Tselane Tambo, also spoke at the rally and ensured that the family received Motlanthe warmly when he visited their homestead in Nkantolo village, 20km outside Mbizana.
Yesterday morning, the family slaughtered sheep for Motlanthe’s visit and they enjoyed food together, something which several sources confirmed did not happen when Zuma visited.
A youth league source said they interpreted this as a snub to Zuma, whose visit to the homestead last weekend was announced at the last minute,
forcing Motlanthe to postpone his visit until yesterday.
Many of those who had been in the frontline of the “campaign for change” – a euphemism for Motlanthe’s election – came out to support Motlanthe openly for the first time.
Flanking him were ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola, ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, Western Cape secretary Songezo Mjongile and chairperson of the OR Tambo region, Thandekile Sabisa.
Young people wore yellow and green T-shirts with either Motlanthe or Tambo’s face on them and sang songs such as “Kgalema sabela uyabizwa” (“Kgalema respond, you are being called”) and “Kgalema kuzolawula wena kulelizwe” (“Kgalema, you will rule this country”).
Lamola told Motlanthe: “The people of South Africa expect you to rise and lead the nation. You are the only person now who can rescue this organisation.”
With reference to the title of the ANC’s document on leadership and in a sideswipe at Zuma, Lamola joked that some leaders were never good enough to pass through the eye of a needle. “They need a garage door,” he said.
Following his visit to the province last weekend, Zuma planned two more for the past week.
On Friday, he promised more than 1 000 ANC supporters attending a rally of the SA Unemployed Workers Union jobs as part of a provincial government job-creation scheme.
He is set to visit the royal house in Qumbu today to speak to traditional leaders.
Eastern Cape has been the hub of activity for top ANC leaders from both camps as they lobbied branches to support them.