It’s Cyril vs Kgalema: Motlanthe appears to be out of the race

2012-12-09 10:00

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Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s political career could come to an end at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung as a last-minute deal looks increasingly unlikely.

This week, at the last minute, Motlanthe had to cancel a visit to former president Nelson Mandela in Qunu on Friday.

He was also forced to praise President Jacob Zuma – the man he may challenge for the presidency – during an ANC centenary lecture in Potchefstroom, North West, in front of a clearly pro-Zuma crowd.

Some of Motlanthe’s supporters claimed his visit to Qunu was “sabotaged” by Zuma loyalists.

But Motlanthe’s spokesperson, Thabo Masebe, claimed his schedule was full.

“He was the acting president in the absence of President Zuma (who is in Tanzania for a Southern African Development Community meeting), so he decided he wouldn’t travel,” Masebe said.

Motlanthe has only mustered 863 out of 3 384, or just more than 25%, of the provincial nomination votes for president, with Zuma getting the rest.

He was nominated by Gauteng, Limpopo and Western Cape as well as the ANC Youth League. This makes the deputy president eligible to run against Zuma.

A lobbyist in Western Cape said they would urge Motlanthe to run for president on this basis.

City Press spoke to more than 20 sources about Motlanthe’s chances for president and about a possible race against businessman Cyril Ramaphosa for the deputy presidency.

A Gauteng lobbyist said Motlanthe should go for broke and make his mark in history.

“If Kgalema doesn’t stand, I’ll draw his name in a box on the ballot paper and vote for him. We can’t vote for hooligans.”

Another Gauteng supporter said lobby groups could still thrash out some agreement even on the eve of Mangaung.

However, a senior pro-Zuma ANC national executive committee (NEC) member said Motlanthe has shot himself in the foot. “He always plays the (professorial) role of observing the ANC from the outside.

“People are tired of how he rubbishes the ANC. Pre-Polokwane, he did the same thing.”

Many have grown impatient with Motlanthe’s indecision. However, an Ipsos Markinor survey published on Friday showed Motlanthe’s support under the general public and within the ANC has grown.

In May, his leadership got a rating of 5.2 out of 10, and last month this went up to 5.8. Among ANC supporters the rating was 5.7 in May and 6.4 last month.

In contrast, Zuma’s rating among ANC supporters went slightly down, from 7.1 to 7.

An alliance partner, Cosatu, which has no power to vote for ANC leaders, wants Motlanthe to stay on for “stability”.

A senior Cosatu leader said: “All we want is to be part of an ANC process that yields unity and focuses on policy debates.”

A pro-Zuma NEC member said Motlanthe had been disadvantaged by supporting the ANC Youth League. (The pro-Zuma lobby) feared he would review Julius Malema’s case.

“There is anger in the regions and branches over Malema’s ill-discipline.”

– Additional reporting by Lubabalo Ngcukana

City Press

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