It’s a three-horse race, comrades
The man in charge
President Jacob Zuma has been particularly busy over the past few months criss-crossing the country launching government projects, monitoring existing projects and charming constituencies.
In recent weeks, he’s awarded medals to Umkhonto weSizwe military veterans, delivered a lecture at the invitation of the Women’s League in Bloemfontein and, just yesterday, he attended a tombstone unveiling with the Zulu royal house.
Many of Zuma’s visits have been to rural villages, where much of his support base lies.
Although his supporters in the ANC say the man in charge is simply performing his government duties, his opponents say he is campaigning ahead of the party’s December elective congress in Mangaung.
Some of his lobbyists and supporters told City Press Zuma would be re-elected in December – not because he’s a great leader, but to “heal” and “stabilise” the party.
They are determined to avoid a repeat of the ANC’s bitter leadership battle in Polokwane in 2007. Zuma’s backers are confident about his re-election.
Any attempt to challenge Zuma is “tantamount to destabilising the ANC”, said a Limpopo regional leader.
“If you bring any leadership change now you’ll be killing the ANC. We have not recovered fully from Polokwane, but we’ve also
accumulated new problems in government.”
A Luthuli House official agreed, saying: “The ANC must heal and this is the time for the leadership of the ANC to show maturity.”
The official said it was unlikely Motlanthe would take on Zuma.
“Kgalema would not want to go down in history as the person who divided the ANC.”
A national executive committee (NEC) member said it was risky to challenge an
incumbent. “If Kgalema doesn’t win he will no longer be part of the officials. He can still be elected to the NEC but he’s unlikely to
accept that – it will be too embarrassing.”
Zuma was the first deputy president who challenged an incumbent and won, said the NEC member.
“He’s not a coward and he’s not the type that takes on something he can’t win. The fact that he’ll be standing again means he’s sure.”
Both the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) and the SA Communist Party are using their members in the ANC to garner support for Zuma, as they did in 2007.
MKMVA chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe said Motlanthe was still favoured as Zuma’s deputy, with Gwede Mantashe as secretary general.
At its 91st anniversary rally last Sunday, the SA Communist Party openly called for Zuma’s re-election when Gauteng chairperson Joe Mpisi explained to the crowd that holding up two fingers while singing signified a second term. “Viva a second term,” he said.
KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Free State are mainly behind Zuma.
– Additional reporting by Carien du Plessis
The secretive candidate
ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe is not the kind of man to speak out about his leadership ambitions.
Earlier this month, after a birthday breakfast in honour of the Lead SA campaign, journalists asked Motlanthe about his ambitions.
As has become his modus operandi when it comes to leadership debates, Motlanthe came across as keen while still staying vague on the details.
“As a sitting member of the (ANC’s) national executive committee, it is not given to me to go out and campaign and so on, precisely because if you lose then you lose your authority to lead,” he said.
Motlanthe has been dodging lobbyists, but a faction that wants him to replace party president Jacob Zuma continues to lobby branches on his behalf.
His most active lobbyists are in Gauteng, but those going out to bat for the deputy president say he has support in Limpopo, parts of Eastern Cape and in Western Cape.
The ANC Youth League has also resolved to support him, and its members are his most vocal cheerleaders.
A league delegation, including expelled league leader Julius Malema, went to KwaZulu-Natal this weekend in a bid to solicit support from, amongst others, sacked police chief Bheki Cele.
Sources said Motlanthe would need an inclusive team of leaders with him on the ballot paper to win, or he might even have to team up with other hopeful Tokyo Sexwale.
He was unlikely to contest Zuma if he was nominated again as his deputy, a Luthuli House staffer close to Motlanthe said. “That is why Zuma’s people have gone to lobby him.”
A government official sympathetic to Motlanthe said he would not campaign as this would open him to attacks from Zuma’s backers.
“Zuma’s people are worried by non-activity. Their problem is that they have been campaigning for a very long time,” said the source.
Another Motlanthe lobbyist said he was careful not to become indebted to anyone.
“He has seen how Malema is now telling Zuma that the youth league made him (Zuma). He doesn’t want to be insulted the same way,” said the lobbyist.
Motlanthe’s supporters want him because:
» He is younger than Zuma;
» He can unite the party;
» He can “improve the ANC’s standing”;
» He has political experience in the party and the trade union movement; and
» Zuma has not lived up to expectations.
Motlanthe’s spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the deputy president respected ANC processes.
“He understands it is branches of the ANC that will start the nominations process. As a leader and current deputy president, he will not engage in any canvassing,” he said.
– Additional reporting by Carien du Plessis
The dark horse
Carien du Plessis
ANC members lobbying for a Tokyo Sexwale presidency believe the party’s botched OR Tambo regional conference has set the tone for what’s to come at Mangaung.
They claim the collapse of the highly-contested congress in the powerful Eastern Cape region was a victory of sorts because provincial leaders supporting President Jacob Zuma couldn’t force a win for the pro-Zuma candidates.
An Eastern Cape Sexwale lobbyist said: “People are more determined (after the congress). The extent to which these (Zuma supporters) are doing things, you get a taste of what will come should they be re-elected. They don’t have respect for the procedures and policy of the ANC.”
Sexwale, who sided with Zuma in 2007 after his own unsuccessful bid for the presidency, is the dark horse in the party’s succession battle.
So far, he has been the face of the “pro-change” lobby, which wants to see “renewal” in the ANC by removing Zuma, but it’s unclear whether he has enough support among ANC members to win.
Sexwale has played like a man with nothing to lose and has lobbied openly, telling eNews Channel’s Justice Malala recently he was up to the job should he be nominated as ANC president.
In Cabinet meetings, he is said to challenge ministers about issues outside his portfolio, human settlements.
He regularly speaks out critically during ANC national executive committee (NEC) meetings, and has used his ministerial role to depict himself as someone who delivers.
Sexwale’s lobbyists claim he has the support of regions in Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo and Gauteng.
They are also trying to solicit more support in KwaZulu-Natal, where Sexwale is deployed as an NEC member and where he is warmly received, unlike Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
While some of Sexwale’s lobbyists speculate that the dark horse could be the face of Motlanthe’s campaign, others deny this.
“We can’t have an ‘Anything but Zuma’ campaign, it must be Tokyo,” a Western Cape lobbyist said.
But a Motlanthe lobbyist yesterday said they asked Sexwale
to back down because he was “confusing our people”.
Lobbyists say the current Sexwale nominations wish list is:
» Deputy president – Gwede Mantashe;
» Chairperson – Thandi Modise;
» Secretary general – Fikile Mbalula;
» Deputy secretary general – Senzo Mchunu;
» Treasurer – Paul Mashatile.
There is no consensus over Mbalula yet, but his nomination could appease the vocal youth league, which last year resolved to nominate him and Motlanthe to the party’s top six – a resolution which means the league cannot support Sexwale over Motlanthe for president.
– Additional reporting by Mmanaledi Mataboge and Sabelo Ndlangisa