A guide to 2012: the next big fight

2009-12-26 13:01

AN INTENSE battle for positions is raging in the ANC ahead of its ­centenary in 2012.

At the centre of the battle is whether ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe should hold his position in the ruling party while at the same time serving the SACP as its national chair.

There is already talk that the ANC national executive committee (NEC) has broken into groups supporting either Mantashe or Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula for the ANC secretary-general position.

The SACP and Cosatu – called the left in political circles – see Mantashe’s position in the ANC as a platform to exert greater influence on the ruling party. This has left some top ANC leaders fuming.

The ANC in the Eastern Cape has drafted a document on how party members should lobby each other for leadership positions in order to avoid infighting.

It is generally accepted in some ANC circles that the battle is not about ideology but for positions which will help those who have access to power or access to people in power to loot the state instead of serving the poor.

“These emerging capitalists have always had a fear that they might not benefit with Mantashe at the helm,” an SACP leader said.

Those believed to be in a new power bloc intending to oust Mantashe include senior ANC leaders Tokyo Sexwale, Billy Masetlha, Tony Yengeni, Nomvula Mokonyane and ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema. This group is known in SACP and Cosatu circles in Gauteng as the “Mvela project”.

The ANC will host its mid-term gathering, the national general council, in KwaZulu-Natal in September, when Mantashe’s role could be up for discussion.

Here is a brief summary of how the battle is playing itself out:

Gwede Mantashe

The former trade unionist is at the heart of the contest. Some leading ANC members have queried how he can hold senior positions in the ANC and SACP simultaneously without conflict of interest.

In his defence, Mantashe has argued that there is a history of senior leaders holding positions in both.
Cosatu says it prefers the current top-six ANC leadership to remain as it is in 2012.

Mantashe can also bank on the support of powerful allies such as SACP treasurer and Eastern Cape ANC chair Phumulo Masualle. It is not clear, however, if his supporters will be strong enough to counter the ­ANCYL’s attempts to unseat him.

Fikile Mbalula

The former ANCYL president is an accomplished campaigner and is credited with the ANC’s April election victory. He is grounded in the party, especially in North West and Eastern Cape, where he exorcised the Congress of the People.

Tokyo Sexwale

Sexwale, who is believed to have ambitions of becoming the country’s next president , is the kingpin behind the campaign to make Mbalula the ANC secretary-general.

Some in the SACP and Cosatu suggest that Sexwale will use Mbalula’s power and influence to drum up ­support to become ANC president in 2017, which will effectively make him state president.

Blade Nzimande

The SACP general secretary has ambitions of becoming ANC deputy president and the country’s second most powerful politician.

In January City Press reported that a few in the alliance were lobbying Zuma to appoint Nzimande as his deputy after the April 22 elections. The SACP accused ANC NEC member Enoch Godongwana of being the source of this information.

Last week Malema said Nzimande thought he was so powerful in the SACP that he would become Zuma’s deputy. “He will never be,” the Youth League leader told a rally in Limpopo.

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