Election blow to Zuma

2012-08-27 00:00

THE Marikana massacre has dealt a blow to President Jacob Zuma’s bid for a second term of office. Yesterday he lost support in the second biggest region of the ANC — the O.R. Tambo region in the Eastern Cape.

The “Anyone but Zuma” faction made a clean sweep, taking the leadership positions after the regional election conference this weekend. The chairperson, Thandekile Sabisa, was re-elected beating Zuma supporter William Ngozi by six votes.

Last night party insiders told The Witness that all 20 positions in the REC went to members who favoured change in the leadership of the ANC. They believed that would cause a major setback to Zuma’s bid for a second term.

The biggest region is eThekwini in Durban and there have been reports of cracks in the support for Zuma as many people remain supporters of dismissed police commissioner Bheki Cele, who has since fallen out of favour with the president.

Political analyst Professor Somadoda Fikeni said there was no doubt that the Marikana massacre played a role in the outcome of the O.R. Tambo election. He said that the majority of the miners working on the platinum mines near Marikana came from the Eastern Cape’s O.R. Tambo and Alfred Nzo regions.

However, he added this was not the only factor resulting in the turning of the tide against Zuma, although Marikana could have given it an edge. Fikeni said that there was a lot of anger over the intervention by the provincial leadership following the collapse of the region’s conference earlier this month, which was called off minutes before results were announced.

He said the intervention team was seen as pro-Zuma and there were strong feelings in the region that they had not acted fairly in nullifying the previous procedures.

Fikeni said that while he did not totally discount Zuma’s chances, support for the president was beginning to look un­even and indications were that there would be a serious contestation for the position of president of the party. He believed another scandal could tip the balance against Zuma standing for a second term of office and boost the chances of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe becomig the ANC’s next leader, if he offered himself as a candidate when the nomination process opened in October.

“We had the textbook saga, the Marikana massacre and add another to that  — Zuma’s chances would be seriously hurt,” Fikeni said.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that the president was due to feel the wrath of the ANC’s top brass at a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) today. According to the report, the NEC was supposed to discuss local government but senior members say Marikana would dominate the discussion amid fears of a political backlash against the party.

The newspaper went on to say that there was fierce lobbying in the O.R. Tambo region by both pro- and anti-Zuma factions and that anger over the Marikana killings was evident among delegates at the conference.

Sabisa could not be drawn on his pro-change lobby and what his re-election as chairperson of the second biggest ANC region would mean in terms of the ANC succession battle. “It has nothing to do with Mangaung. Jacob Zuma is still the president of the ANC. As a region, we have not nominated,” he said.

The Sunday papers also reported that there was growing support for Motlanthe to become the new leader of the ANC. The Youth League has indicated its support for Motlanthe.

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