Motlanthe lobbyists gear for fight

2012-10-07 17:00
Kgalema Motlanthe.

Kgalema Motlanthe.

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Johannesburg - Lobbyists for Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe are planning to use his new biography, which is set to be launched on Thursday, to drive his campaign for ANC president.

Motlanthe has to date refused to declare publicly whether he would challenge President Jacob Zuma at the ANC’s elective congress in December in Mangaung or stand as his deputy.

The book, titled Kgalema Motlanthe: A Political Biography, by political writer and former trade unionist Ebrahim Harvey, tells the story of a politician who has largely been an enigma.

The book has been on the shelves since last Thursday, but is scheduled to be launched on 11 October at an event in Johannesburg addressed by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, to whom Motlanthe is close.

The ANC Youth League said the book’s last chapter was “proof” that Motlanthe will accept their nomination.

The chapter, A rough run-up to Mangaung, reveals Motlanthe’s concerns and disappointment with Zuma’s ­governance. Harvey writes that Motlanthe had hoped Zuma’s administration “would once and for all settle several major problems afflicting the party and government”, but this didn’t happen.

It also reveals that Motlanthe was opposed to Julius Malema’s expulsion from the ANC.

Youth league spokesperson Abner Mosaase said: “We’ve seen his [Motlanthe’s] book and the last chapter says exactly what he wants. We’re very happy that what we want will eventually emerge, judging from that chapter.”

The league last week nominated Motlanthe for ANC president and Mosaase said it would lobby for him.

“Kgalema doesn’t have a campaign. We’re driving the campaign ourselves until the time is right for ANC structures to tell him to stand,” the league said.

In an interview with City Press, Harvey denied the book was timed to coincide with the ANC opening its nominations process or with Mangaung. “That would be a fundamental misconception.


It is a rough coincidence.

The book explains the varied reasons for the delays I encountered,” he said.

Harvey said it took three years to research and write the book.

In his opinion, Motlanthe would “most likely” accept should ANC branches formally put forward his name for the ANC presidency.

Harvey, who spent more than 180 hours interviewing Motlanthe, said leadership in the ANC was decided as part of an “organic bottom-up process, begun in the branches, and not by leaders ambitiously and arrogantly volunteering their leadership to the members of the ANC”.

Several Motlanthe supporters claimed they fear intimidation and would not show their hand now, but the secret ballots cast in Mangaung will tell another story.

For this reason a Motlanthe supporter on the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) said Motlanthe was not “intimidated” by figures apparently favouring Zuma.


Last week, the ANC announced that KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s biggest support base, would take 974 of the 4 500 voting delegates to Mangaung.

The NEC member said Motlanthe would not back down before nominations closed.

A pro-Motlanthe Limpopo leader concurred, saying: “If you look at the timing of the book, where he says what he thinks about certain things in the movement, it’s his way of saying: ‘I am ready to correct what I think is wrong in the movement.’”

The NEC member said if Motlanthe was a genuine leader, “he must say now if I’m nominated I’m going to accept or decline. It’s quite clear Zuma is not going away. Why is Kgalema confused?”

Revelations about a controversial R238m improvement to Zuma’s Nkandla homestead and the ruling by the Constitutional Court that the president’s appointment of Menzi Simelane as national director of public prosecutions was invalid, will be used by the Motlanthe camp against Zuma, two Motlanthe ­lobbyists said.

But there are doubts whether this would be effective.

A pro-Zuma NEC member said: “Membership of ANC is not middle class so those things do not influence their decisions in any way.

Our people respect authority unconditionally.”


Opinion polls show that Motlanthe is a strong candidate to take on Zuma for the ANC’s presidency.

Zuma is, however, still slightly ahead in popularity polls.

A recent survey by Ipsos Markinor, which asked 3 500 South Africans across the country to rate the two leaders according to their effectiveness on a scale of 0 to 10, showed that Zuma is not far ahead of Motlanthe, with 6.1 out of 10 points. Motlanthe got 5.2.

Though the study did not focus specifically on the ANC leadership, it posed questions to party members who also presented similar scores.

Motlanthe is punted to replace Zuma as the ANC president at the party’s elective congress in December.

Zuma scored higher among ANC members surveyed: 7.1 out of 10, ahead of Motlanthe’s 5.7.

The biggest support came from Zuma’s home province, KwaZulu-Natal.

A poll by TNS Research Surveys showed Motlanthe had a 51% approval rating and Zuma scored 48%.

Of those surveyed in urban areas, 39% preferred Motlanthe as president while only 32% were for Zuma.

Rural villages were Zuma’s strongest support base and he scored lower in cities, according to the Ipsos Markinor survey.

“He has a huge influence among people in rural areas,” said Mari Harris, the director of public affairs at Ipsos Markinor.

“Those people do not have the same access to the media and Zuma is very much a populist man.”

Since 2009, Motlanthe’s support has been “going up and down” because of the “uncertainty” about him.

“People are not sure,” said Harris.

Zuma’s popularity dropped from 7.6 in November 2009 to 6.1 this year.

“He has not impressed in the past three years and people are asking questions,” Harris said.

Read more on:    anc  |  julius malema  |  kgalema motlanthe  |  gwede mantashe  |  jacob zuma  |  mangaung 2012

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