‘Zuma vote may split ANC’

2012-08-07 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma could be ousted like his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, even if he is re-elected at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.

His re-election could even split the party, political analyst and writer William Gumede has said.

Mbeki was ousted as president in 2008 by the ANC, nine months after Zuma was elected a party president and a few months before the end of his term.

Gumede, whose book Restless Nation is set to be launched today, spoke to businesspeople at a breakfast in Rosebank yesterday.

He said Zuma seemed to have support in only three provinces — KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Free State — and his position was not as secure as he would have liked.

Zuma also had divided support in the trade unions, and there might be strong enough support for his ousting a year or two after Mangaung.

Gumede said some trade unions members who wanted to see government policies change might be unhappy with Zuma’s re-election and lose patience. There was a chance this group could split from the ANC.

He said that because Zuma did not have a convincing majority support, his lobbyists might try to convince or intimidate any possible opponents not to stand against him in December.

Another strategy could be to strike a deal with someone like businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, who would then become Zuma’s deputy in the party and president of the country.

Ramaphosa could also agree to ease Zuma’s fears about losing his position, such as possible prosecution for corruption and loss of business for him and his family.

Gumede said Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s strategy was to convince people to support him on the basis of policy, not on the basis of his opposition to Zuma.

Motlanthe might step out of the way in Mangaung if the fight got dirty, Gumede said.

This would provide an opportunity for Housing Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who also has his eye on the presidency, to step up.

“Tokyo’s tactic seems to be that he’ll fight hard and dirty like Zuma, and that he’s happy to stitch together his constituencies from people like the [ANC] Youth League and the unions,” Gumede said.

Analyst and author Daniel Silke, who also spoke at the breakfast, said the positive aspect of a second term for Zuma could be that he would be more secure in his presidency, knowing that he could not serve another term.

He would spend less time “looking over his shoulder” and could be more decisive, Silke said.

Gumede’s book launch is tonight at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park.

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