ANC leadership battle: Game on?

2012-12-12 22:50
(Picture: SAPA)

(Picture: SAPA)

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Johannesburg - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe will challenge incumbent President Jacob Zuma for the leadership of the African National Congress and the country, a source close to Motlanthe told AFP on Wednesday.

"Yes, of course he will stand," the source said on condition of anonymity, setting up a leadership battle at the party's elective conference which begins on Sunday.

City Press also cited a source close to Motlanthe as saying the deputy president received a call from the ANC’s electoral commission on Wednesday, and indicated that he would stand.

A second, independent source on the ANC NEC confirmed this, City Press reported.

SAfm, one of three radio stations to report the news, said it had "reliably learnt" that Motlanthe would accept the nominations.

Eyewitness News and Jacaranda News carried similar reports.

But, Motlanthe's spokesperson Thabo Masebe declined to confirm the reports, saying the "matter is now in the hands of the ANC's electoral commission".

"I know they have been in contact with the deputy president, but the deputy president won't make any statements about that because he respects the fact the electoral commission is responsible for the process of nominations."

Masebe said the ANC's electoral commission would announce who was nominated.

Stop corruption

The commission is scheduled to hold a news briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday.

In a speech late on Wednesday, Motlanthe did not directly announce his candidature, but had a stern message about the health of the party.

"We should stop the culture of corruption that is creeping within our rank, corroding our value system and undermining the memory of thousands of leaders... who have ensured that the ground is prepared for a free and democratic society that we are taking for granted today," he said.

Motlanthe faces an uphill struggle to wrest control of the party from Zuma, who appears to have the backing of a majority of the provincial party branches.

He has the backing of members in the provinces of Gauteng, the Western Cape and Limpopo, as well as the support of the ANC Youth League - far from enough to secure the nomination.

"I do see President Zuma winning again... just because the largest amount of delegates in the conference comes from KwaZulu-Natal, which is of course his home province," said Adriaan Basson, author of "Zuma Exposed".

"He's almost got a quarter of the votes already in the pocket just from this one province."

Political analyst Steven Friedman also felt that Motlanthe's acceptance of the nomination would mean little, and that he expects Zuma to be-re-elected.

"I think Mr Motlanthe knows that... the branches have overwhelmingly decided on Mr [Jacob] Zuma," he said on the sidelines of a panel debate at Constitution Hill.

"What does change is that because you have a contested election it becomes possible that the people of Mangaung will question whether certain delegates [or groups] should be there or not."

He said unless hundreds of delegates at the ANC's elective conference ignored what their branches had decided, Zuma would be re-elected as president.

Friedman said Mathews Phosa and Fikile Mbabula's acceptance of nominations, also to executive seats, was a test of strength against ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.

"The idea of contesting Mantashe is an attempt to demonstrate strength...and it won't be a successful attempt."

Phosa had earlier confirmed to Sapa that he had accepted the nomination to stand for the deputy presidency.

"I've accepted the nomination by the ANC branches for me to stand as deputy president," said Phosa.

"I am abiding by what they [the ANC branches] put forward to me."

Jacaranda FM on its Twitter page said Mbalaula had also accepted nomination for the position of secretary general.

His spokesperson Justin de Allende said: "He is a member of the ANC. As a member of the ANC he's eligible and duty-bound to accept any form of deployment, as members of the ANC, request of us..."

Read more on:    anc  |  kgalema motlanthe  |  jacob zuma  |  steven friedman  |  fikile mbalula  |  mathews phosa  |  mangaung 2012  |  politics
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