‘Singing won’t win’ Mangaung

2012-09-27 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has broken his self-imposed silence on ANC matters when he warned last night that singing won’t win leaders any battles at the ANC’s elective congress in Mangaung — only debate and persuasion will.

Speaking four days before the ANC’s nominations process for its congress opens, Mbalula said: “If you sing, you won’t understand the debate, but the personality.”

“The politics of today has been reduced to the politics of freedom songs. That is why we don’t know what our future is.”

Addressing about 150 ANC Youth League members in a packed lecture hall at Wits University last night in celebration of the league’s 68th birthday, he said singing had reduced leadership to mediocrity.

“It’s about who sings the loudest,” he said in an apparent veiled reference to President Jacob Zuma, whom he didn’t mention by name but who became hugely popular for singing his trademark Umshini Wami.

The ANC’s nominations process is set to start on Monday, when the party will allow an open debate on leadership.

Mbalula, who as youth league leader at the time was key to Zuma getting elected at the ANC’s last congress in Polokwane in 2007, said Mangaung would be about economic freedom, not about political change.

He called for the ANC to be allowed to discuss leadership openly instead of “in beerhalls, under the carpet” and in secret with selected journalists.

“Let us open, let us debate [leadership],” he said, referring to the fact that the debate has started in the showing of signs.

“The horse has bolted, people are discussing [leadership].”

Despite calls for opening the leadership debate early, Mbalula did not name any leaders he preferred. However, ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola said the league would nominate Mbalula, whom he called “a great leader”, for party secretary-general, to take over from Gwede Mantashe.

The league would also nominate deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe for president, even if he didn’t want to stand.

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