Deputy president ‘gagged’ by Team Zuma

2012-10-27 19:31

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has seemingly been a closet campaigner for the ANC’s top spot so far, but now that he’s turning up the volume, lobbyists claim he’s being pushed back in the box.

A bunfight between the factions erupted as the late ANC president OR Tambo’s 95th birthday was celebrated by the party this week.

The ANC Youth League was furious after it had to cancel an event where Motlanthe was billed to speak yesterday because President Jacob Zuma this week decided to address an event at the same place today.

The tents and stage stood ready, and Motlanthe’s lobbyists had already flown to the province when a letter from the ANC urged them to cancel.

The league claimed that the ANC believed that “protocol” demanded that Motlanthe and Zuma should not “compete” by attending events at the same place on successive days.

League spokesperson Khusela Sangoni-Khawe claimed the league had organised its event two months before, but the ANC decided last week to “sabotage” it.

ANC Eastern Cape spokesperson Mlibo Qoboshiyana denied this.

He admitted the date for Zuma’s visit was only decided recently, but said it had been planned since May, when the Tambo family “requested the ANC centenary flame must also touch the village where OR Tambo was born”.

He said Motlanthe and the league didn’t take up the invitation to attend today’s event.

Motlanthe’s office earlier in the week referred queries to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.

Mantashe could not be reached yesterday.

Motlanthe’s lobbyists also complained this week that Zuma had “diluted” Motlanthe’s wreath-laying at Tambo’s grave in Wattville, Ekurhuleni, yesterday by laying a wreath the previous night.

Ekurhuleni mayoral spokesperson Zweli Dlamini confirmed yesterday’s event with Motlanthe had been organised months in advance, while Zuma’s wreath-laying was done at short notice.

However, ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said the event had been planned all along as part of the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference, which ends in Tshwane today.

Zuma and Motlanthe appeared on the same stage at the conference on Friday as Zuma delivered the Tambo centenary lecture.

On Wednesday Motlanthe was replaced by ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete at short notice for a briefing on the conference.

The briefing started three hours later than was originally stated and, denying that Motlanthe was supposed to address the briefing at all, Mthembu then joked that the ANC official who sent out the “wrong” invite would be “disciplined”.

Motlanthe’s participation in a soccer match last Sunday against Italian legends also raised eyebrows among
Zuma supporters, who said it was a “factional back yard game” to which he hadn’t been deployed.

A Motlanthe lobbyist said: “There are people who said the process must start in October with the nominations, but now that he is campaigning, they want to stop him.”

– Additional reporting by Sabelo Ndlangisa

Motlante Graphic Copy

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