DOOMSDAY… at least for the ANC’s forces of change

2012-12-21 00:00

FROM hero in Polokwane to zero in Mangaung. That was the fate of several high-profile ANC leaders who five years ago backed President Jacob Zuma.

This time around, however, they were prominent leaders of the “forces of change” grouping in the ANC, actively lobbying for a change in leadership. However, delegates to the ANC’s 53rd national conference wanted none of it.

Hence it became doomsday for: former treasurer-general Mathews Phosa; ex-deputy secretary-general and North West Premier Thandi Modise; Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula; Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale; and Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile.

They were roundly rejected for election to the ANC’s 80-member national executive committee and their future in government is now unclear. So too was Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who in 2007 was the 10th most popular ANC leader voted on to the NEC and whose ambitions to become deputy president this time around were also dashed.

The purge made a mockery of Zuma’s call for unity, a theme in both his opening and closing remarks at the conference. Yesterday, Zuma told delegates he was going to lead the organisation in promoting unity, as this was the rock on which the organisation was founded.

“We emerged from Polokwane and assumed that we all were in agreement that we would work for unity. We felt everyone understood this. We must not repeat that mistake.”

He added that unity would not happen automatically. “We need to work hard at it.” No member should be ostracised for exercising their democratic right to stand for election.

However, Zuma also made clear who was boss. He promised to root out factionalism and to “deal” with dissidents and members challenging the ANC in court.

Former Zuma allies, who were associated with the anti-Zuma camp, including former NEC deployee to KwaZulu-Natal Siphiwe Nyanda and ANC MP Nyami Booi, were also rejected.

However, fired former national police commissioner Bheki Cele, long rumoured to have been in the “forces of change” camp, mustered sufficient votes to return to the NEC. Veteran Pallo Jordan, who has been publicly critical of Zuma, was also voted in.

The NEC list reflected the ANC’s 50/50 gender parity rule, with 40 men and 40 women elected.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, garnered the highest number of votes. Speculation is that Zuma wants his ex-wife to succeed him as South African president in 2019, despite the fact that she was once Thabo Mbeki’s choice for ANC deputy president.

ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who was the most popular NEC member in Polokwane, just managed to scrape through.

KZN — the province that led the battle for Zuma’s re-election as party president, has at least 12 members on the NEC. They include MP Ruth Bhengu, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Intelligence Minister Siyabonga Cwele.

Pravin Gordhan, who hails from Durban, was also elected, while former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni is also back.

ANC Youth League members who made it onto the list are Zizi Kodwa and Pule Mabe, both known to have opposed Zuma’s nemesis, expelled ANCYL leader Julius Malema.

Cosatu trade unionists who supported Zuma’s bid for a second term were also rewarded with election. They include the trade union federation’s president, S’Dumo Dlamini, and National Union of Mineworkers president Senzeni Zokwana as well as Nehawu secretary Fikile Majola. SA Communist Party leader Blade Nzimande was also returned to the NEC.

The closing moments of the ANC conference were not without drama, with a power cut plunging the large marquee into darkness. NewsFire reports that Zuma and other members of the ANC’s top six were escorted off stage by members of the VIP security unit. Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, sitting in the front row, was also taken out at the insistence of his security detail, but returned after a while. Delegates sang during the power failure, the only light coming from the ANC’s centenary flame at the front of the giant tent.

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