Race is on for top six ANC leadership positions
THE race to lead the African National Congress (ANC) is officially on between incumbent Jacob Zuma and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe.
Nominations for the party’s top six leadership positions were announced and finalised on Monday at the governing party’s Mangaung elective conference.
Although Mr Zuma and Mr Motlanthe’s candidacy for the top job was expected, proceedings took an unexpected twist when Mr Motlanthe withdrew from nominations for the post of deputy president.
Delegates will now have to choose between outgoing treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and multimillionaire businessman Cyril Ramaphosa for that position. Baleka Mbete, the outgoing ANC chairwoman, declined nomination.
Some media reports on Monday said Mr Ramaphosa had decided not to stand, though he had already confirmed to BDlive on Sunday that he would.
Mr Motlanthe was nominated for the presidency by three ANC provinces — Gauteng, the Western Cape and Limpopo — as well as the ANC Youth League to replace Mr Zuma. Should he lose, he will no longer be one of the ANC’s top six leaders.
Mr Phosa and Mr Sexwale — both supported by the group seeking to oust Mr Zuma — refused to budge amid concerns that it would weaken the campaign if they stood for the same position. Mr Phosa received two nominations from provinces and the ANC Youth League, while Mr Sexwale only received one nomination from Gauteng. The three candidates had previously being accused of plotting to remove former president Thabo Mbeki from power ahead of the 1997 Mafikeng conference.
Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe is being challenged for his position by Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, a former ANC Youth League leader.
After the nominations had been announced, Mr Mbalula said he was “not confident” of a win, but his decision to stand was about “honouring organisational democracy” and recognising the courage of those who had nominated him.
Up for the position of national chairperson are Ms Mbete and Thandi Modise, premier of the North West. Senior leader Thenjiwe Mtintso declined nomination and Ace Magashule, chairman of the Free State ANC until his executive was disbanded at the weekend following a court ruling last week, withdrew.
Nominated for deputy secretary-general were ANC spokeswoman Jessie Duarte, Mr Mbalula (who declined), Ms Modise (who withdrew), Ms Mtintso (also declined) and national executive committee member Phoebe Potgieter (declined). There will therefore be no voting for this post, though Ms Duarte will only be officially announced as the winner along with the other positions when voting is finished.
Delegates will choose a new treasurer-general between Paul Mashatile, the Gauteng ANC chairman and national minister of arts and culture, and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize.
Mr Sexwale withdrew from this nomination — saying, with a laugh, “I can’t count the money” — and Lindiwe Sisulu, NEC member and minister of public service and administration, declined.
Mashatile at the mic
Seconds before Mr Sexwale spoke — on the other end of the plenary hall — Mr Mashatile made his way to the microphone too. He tapped it, readying himself to speak, but he was drowned out by Mr Sexwale. He then made his way back to his seat, with confused journalists looking on.
“Three of us were nominated. I have been thinking the same way Tokyo was, he was also nominated for deputy president. If he had accepted (the nomination for treasurer-general), I would have withdrawn,” Mr Mashatile said.
Both men hail from the Gauteng province and served as premiers there. They are also seen as key players in the campaign to replace Mr Zuma with Mr Motlanthe.
On Mr Motlanthe’s withdrawal from the nomination for deputy president, Mr Mashatile said his province wanted him in the top spot, not as deputy. “As a leader, I think he’s decided, ‘I’ve done this post already’ and that’s it,” he said.
Mr Mashatile remained cautiously optimistic about Mr Motlanthe’s chances despite the overwhelming support for Mr Zuma from delegates. “We remain hopeful because voting is about a secret ballot,” he said.
According to the election rules, delegates are not allowed to take cellphones or any other electronic devices into the voting area. This lessens the possibility of intimidation, as delegates cannot be asked to take a picture of their ballot paper to prove that they voted for a particular candidate.
The rules also state that up to four candidates per position can be nominated from the floor and added onto the ballot, provided each nomination receives the support of a quarter of the voting delegates. No such nominations were, however, received on Monday.
A total of 4,075 delegates will vote for the ANC’s top six officials and the 80 national executive committee members.
In the running
Mr Zuma and Mr Motlanthe were the only two candidates nominated by branches, after last week’s provincial nomination conferences, to stand for the ANC presidency.
Mr Motlanthe bit the bullet and soldiered on to challenge Mr Zuma, despite indications that the numbers were stacked against him. Mr Zuma — as well as those on the top six slate prepared by the faction that supports him — is popular among a significant majority of the 4,075 delegates.
Limpopo secretary Soviet Lekganyane, whose province also largely supported change, said he was still in good spirits despite the clear indication that Mr Motlanthe was likely to lose the race. “We are looking for quality and we hope the delegates will agree with us,” he said.
Zuma supporter Mr Magashule compared the incumbent to Nelson Mandela, saying he was a “man of the people”.
Mr Magashule declined nomination for the position of chairperson mainly because he was contesting current chairwoman Baleka Mbete.
“That is one chair very effective in guiding and directing the ANC ... Baleka was one of those tried-and-tested cadres. If her name was not there, I would definitely contest,” he said.
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