Mangaung not about new leaders, but unity

2012-12-03 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma yesterday downplayed the contest for the ANC presidency between him and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe, saying it was part of the party’s democratic processes.

Talking to journalists after a wreath-laying ceremony to remember and honour 42 people who died in political violence at Mgababa on the South Coast in 1991, Zuma said ANC members had a right to leadership preferences. With the tally of the latest nominations showing he is ahead in the leadership race, the president appeared to be confident and upbeat. Addressing ANC members at a rally earlier, he said leaders should not be imposed on the party, but should be nominated by its members.

Zuma said delegates to the party’s Mangaung conference, where the leaders will be elected, should carry mandates from their branches. He said there was misconception that there would be a battle at the conference.

“We go to a conference of the ANC to discuss ANC issues. Members are given the opportunity to choose their leaders. That is not fighting. There is no fight. We go to Mangaung to have our conference and come back even stronger and [more] united,” he insisted.

Zuma, however, said the decision on leadership would be final and binding. “If the conference has spoken, even if you had a different view, that decision is also yours. You don’t go out of the conference fighting.

“Those who fight are not ANC, as we saw in Polokwane when they did not win and chose to form a new party,” he said, referring to a faction that broke away to form Cope. “In the ANC, when a decision is taken by the majority, you own that decision,” Zuma said.

He took a swipe at those calling for leadership change, saying they behaved as if they were supporters of soccer clubs Kaizer Chief or Orlando Pirates. “This is not about playing football. There must be sound reasons [for calling for new leaders].”

Zuma also warned alliance leaders to choose their words carefully. “If I am a leader of the alliance, I must not just say anything I want to say,” he said.

In an apparent reference to Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi, Zuma said: “There should be no member or leader who wakes up any time and makes wild predictions.”

Last week, Vavi warned of serious implications if Motlanthe was not elected at Mangaung.

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