Is Kgalema ready for battle?

2012-10-13 19:14

Some say the deputy president doesn’t want to be part of a faction, while others label him as cowardly

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe isn’t overly enamoured with the people and groupings lobbying for change in
the ANC in his name.

The launch of Motlanthe’s biography in Joburg this week is being widely touted as the real start of his presidential campaign.

Motlanthe still hasn’t publicly announced whether he will accept nomination for the ANC’s top job at the party’s elective conference in Mangaung.

But his lobbyists believe Motlanthe’s intentions are clear, and that he showed his hand at the launch of his biography, written by Ebrahim Harvey, this week.

The problem is that Motlanthe’s lobbyists make him uncomfortable.

A government official with intimate knowledge of both Zuma and Motlanthe’s campaigns said he was “not happy about the touting of his name, the calibre of people, and what they say in his name and that of the ANC”.

Trust seems to be an issue for the deputy president too.

“He doesn’t want to be used as a tool to topple Zuma and then have money used to topple him, hence his discomfort with
being deputised by Tokyo Sexwale,” the official told City Press.

A Motlanthe lobbyist who has been involved with the campaign said Motlanthe had already told those garnering support in his name that he doesn’t want to be part of a faction.

“He told the pro-change brigade he would not subscribe to any list. He does not want to deal with factions,” said the lobbyist.

“He wants a consensus in all the lists as he believes he can’t allow what happened in Polokwane to happen again in
Mangaung. He said he would not like to be part of any threat to ANC unity,” the lobbyist said.

At the book launch on Thursday night, Motlanthe said he wanted to be remembered as the person who “implemented”, rather than spoke.

About 1 000 people attended the launch, and some of Motlanthe’s supporters leapt to their feet at several points during his speech, making soccer substitution hand signals to show their desire for new leadership of the ANC.

A Motlanthe lobbyist told City Press: “Kgalema shows he is an agent for change all the time. He says government is in crisis, which means there should be change.

“He’s not been nominated by a branch yet, and only then can he openly declare,” the lobbyist said.

The deputy president faces an uphill battle in taking on Zuma, though, and people who are backing Zuma believe Motlanthe doesn’t have what it takes for a real scrap.

A provincial leader who supports Zuma’s re-election said Motlanthe was “a coward”.

“His character is not that of a person who can stand for presidency. He’s a coward who hides behind being reasonable and the branches.”

Only two provinces, Limpopo and Gauteng, and the ANC Youth League have come out in public support of Motlanthe.

The ANC’s leadership in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, which are the party’s two largest provinces going to Mangaung, and leaders in Mpumalanga, have all declared their support for Zuma.

Motlanthe’s lobbyists insist they are not put off by the apparently overwhelming support in the ANC for Zuma.

“(The Zuma camp) is involved in an aerial battle, where they focus on the provincial leadership. We work at branch and regional level,” the lobbyist told City Press.

They say news of the R238 million upgrade of Zuma’s private home in Nkandla, which has outraged many South Africans and made international headlines, “strengthens Motlanthe’s case”.

In KZN, the Motlanthe camp is hoping to attract 100 delegates to their side from the 974 delegates the province will send to Mangaung.

According to lobbyists, the Motlanthe-aligned delegates are expected to come from urban areas like Richards Bay,
Durban and Newcastle.

In Mpumalanga, the ANC Youth League broke ranks with the party’s provincial leaders who support Zuma, and made it known they are campaigning for Motlanthe.

“In Mpumalanga and KZN they are blocking him. So many branches want him to come and address them, but the provincial leaders block the invitations for both government and ANC work,” said a source.

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