ANC succession battle: Stop raising names, says Duarte

2017-01-17 17:08
ANC deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte (File, Jeanette Chabalala,News24)

ANC deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte (File, Jeanette Chabalala,News24)

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Johannesburg - The ANC is again trying to gag the succession debate that has gone unabated despite strong calls for party structures not to pronounce on preferred candidates ahead of its June policy conference.

The party's National Working Committee met on Monday night and once again called on structures and branches not to name names, deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said on Tuesday.

"The National Working Committee agreed that no one should continue to raise names in the debate around succession. The structures of the ANC in the NWC were present. We are hoping that, going forward, this name raising will end and we will go back to discuss the value propositions," Duarte said.

Duarte and secretary general Gwede Mantashe were addressing a round table media breakfast on Tuesday.

She said they feared that if names were debated now, it would derail the policy conference.

"It would be almost impossible to go to the policy conference and have a sober debate on policy issues that people must focus on… when the policy conference is over, let the games begin,'' said Duarte.

“”We are saving ourselves from ourselves not to water down policy conference and allow it to be swallowed in the debate of names,” Mantashe added.

ANCYL promises 'shock candidate'

The NWC meeting comes amidst an intensified leadership debate following the ANC Women’s League’s endorsement of outgoing African Union Commission Chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as its preferred candidate for the next party president.

Days after the call by the Women's League, President Jacob Zuma in radio interviews also appeared to endorse a woman candidate, when he said the ANC was ready for its first female leader.  

He also defended Dlamini-Zuma’s credentials and dismissed criticism of the presidency moving from one "Zuma to another", in reference to his ex-wife.

This was widely seen as Zuma endorsing Dlamini-Zuma, even though speaker of Parliament and ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete, was quoted in the media as also raising her hand for the party's top post. But, on Tuesday, she said on radio that she had been misquoted.  

Meanwhile, the ANC Youth League said it would also announce a surprise candidate who would "shock the nation".

The pronouncements have been seen as defying an earlier National Executive Committee decision to limit the debate.  

'We are mature adults'

The NWC said it would write to all branches to inform them of the decision barring them from discussing names.

She also suggested that they will bar songs endorsing candidates.

However, the ANC appears powerless to discipline those pronouncing on their preferred candidates.

When asked if the Women’s League had been reprimanded during the NWC meeting, Duarte said there was no finger pointing, but that there should be accountability.

"We don’t operate like other organisations where you point fingers, we are mature adults. We jointly agreed, we won’t go with utilisation of names and it is a decision of NWC and it is binding,” Duarte said.

Duarte reiterated that the names debate was damaging the party and sowing divisions. The debate gained momentum on the eve of the ANC's 105th birthday.

Both Duarte and Mantashe said that debating whether the party was ready for a woman president was within the NEC principles.

'Primaries produce a Trump'

Mantashe dismissed criticism that the ANC was failing to modernise its election process, which has been plagued by factionalism and vote buying. He said the US system of primaries was also flawed.

"People have asked why not go to primaries and allow people to campaign for themselves. We had to say primaries produce a Trump, and primaries produce a Reagan at a time, any system will produce a faulty product, people saying we must move with time, is a false debate to me," he said.

He conceded that the ANC's system - which has seen factions emerge with lists for top 6 and NEC members - was not perfect. However, he said it still gave branches power.

"My argument is that we must perfect our system. In it there are traditions that members of the ANC understand... The message we are sending is, 'please branches, reject lists'," Mantashe said.

He insisted that the problem of money bags circulating ahead of conferences was not unique to the ANC, but was a worldwide problem.

Read more on:    anc  |  gwede ­mantashe  |  nkosazana ­dlamini zuma  |  jessie duarte  |  politics 2017

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