ANC battle begins

2012-06-09 18:46

New battle lines were drawn this week between those within the tripartite alliance who support anybody but Jacob Zuma and those who are pushing for a second term.

Anyone But Zuma
This week the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) called on labour federation Cosatu to use its September conference to name its preferred presidential candidates.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is being pushed to show his hand and is emerging as a potential kingmaker in the ANC’s succession race.

If Cosatu heeds Numsa’s call, it would mean defying the governing party’s insistence that no public pronouncements should be made before October.

The ANC is to hold its elective conference at ­Mangaung, Free State, in December.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the ANC leadership’s performance should be reviewed and measured against policies adopted at its last conference in Polokwane, Limpopo, in 2007.

“We do not agree that we should fold arms while a crucial formation like the ANC is assembling leadership. The leadership of the ANC is the leadership of the country,” said Jim, speaking at Numsa’s ninth national congress in Durban this week.

“We cannot leave anything to chance and think our interests will be taken care of.”

Refusing to name anyone, he said some leaders should be voted out and replaced.

Numsa has been publicly critical of Zuma’s leadership – particularly around workers’ rights and the poor. It isamong those known to be agitating for the election of a new ANC president at Mangaung.

Vavi, another vocal critic of the ANC, is close to Numsa and its leadership.

He has also been critical of the ANC’s leadership and its failure to implement some resolutions adopted at Polokwane.

Since the expulsion of former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema from the governing party in April, the anti-Zuma lobby looks to Vavi and Jim to lead the call for changed leadership. Cosatu claims to have more than 2 million members, the majority of whom double as ANC members.

Paul Mashatile, the ANC chairperson in Gauteng, also stepped outside the party lines on Friday when he called for the succession debate to be opened.

Addressing the provincial general council, he said the performance of leaders should be evaluated.

Last Sunday, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale – himself a possible presidential candidate – urged South Africans not to fear those in power.

“We put people in authority and we get terrified of them! You start to fear an MEC, a mayor, a ­minister, you fear premiers, you fear the president,” Sexwale told people at a gathering in Eastern Cape.

The Second Transition
The campaign to oust Zuma may be weakened by the charm offensive he has launched using the party’s proposed “second transition” as a rallying cry for the poor and marginalised.

This “second transition” is a period during which the ANC suggests economic and social transformation should be fast-tracked. The plan is due to be discussed at the ANC’s policy conference this month.

In recent weeks Zuma and his allies in the ANC, including national executive committee (NEC) member Ngoako Ramatlhodi and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, have punted the introduction of such a “second transition”, code for a new revolution or for a second term.

Addressing delegates at the party’s Northern Cape provincial congress this week, Zuma said: “The first transition was relevant to the political transition, but is not adequate for a social as well as economic ­transformation phase.”

An ANC NEC member who asked not to be named told City Press the proposed “second transition” was a “perfect campaign tool” for Zuma’s re-election bid.

“It’ll mean under Zuma’s leadership the ANC was able to conceptualise, develop and implement a new vision for the country, which builds a national ­democratic society,” the NEC member – who ­supports Zuma’s re-election – said.

Ramatlhodi told City Press the “second transition” was vital because the ANC had realised that “demobilising” the masses in 1994 was the wrong decision. “We thought we could use the state to change society and overdid that,” said Ramatlhodi.

“When we want to build an RDP house, we use a tender instead of using prospective owners. In courts and elsewhere our people have been disadvantaged.

“We must bring masses out to put pressure. An ­example is how we removed that insulting picture from the walls (Brett Murray’s The Spear).

“You can interpret the Constitution in the streets. The right to demonstrate is in the Constitution.”

He rejected the suggestion that this was a form of bullying, saying criticism was meant to silence the ANC.

There was a need for both “parliamentary and ­extra-parliamentary struggles”, Ramatlhodi said.

“Some of the black judges go in there and get ­transformed by the system. It is like the sea that absorbs water from a river without salt. It comes in and becomes salty. Unless you put (in) enough water, it can’t begin to change.”

He said one of the “fatal mistakes” the ANC made was to underestimate the “taming influence of institutions” on people.

– Additional reporting by Carien du Plessis

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