Mbalula’s bid for power on the rocks

2012-10-13 18:15

Minister receives only two nominations for ANC top job

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula’s campaign to become the ANC’s secretary general is on the skids.

City Press has learnt that Mbalula, whom the ANC Youth League has punted as a strong replacement for Gwede Mantashe, was shocked when only the league and Limpopo nominated him for the job.

His name does not appear on any other preferred candidate lists that have been released by provinces or party formations in the past two weeks.

Mbalula’s name featured on a slate led by ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, which is championed by the youth league.

An Mbalula ally who has been part of lobbying for his cause told City Press there seemed to be little hope of reviving the campaign.

“Motlanthe and Zuma don’t want Mbalula as secretary general.

“They would rather have Gwede (Mantashe) or Joel Netshitenzhe,” said the ally.

“Mbaks (Mbalula) can serve as deputy (for) either Gwede or Joel. But currently he seems not to be getting the secretary general.”

A provincial leader in the anti-Zuma camp said some of Mbalula’s close comrades were floating the idea that he should settle for the position of deputy secretary general. The leader said Mbalula was warming to this idea.

“There’s a campaign by some in the North West to keep Gwede as SG, which means Mbalula must be deputy,” the leader told City Press.

“They want Gwede for the Eastern Cape vote, but we believe our Eastern Cape delegates are happy, we don’t need Gwede.”

Mbalula told City Press through his spokesperson Justin de Allende that he would only comment “once the nomination process is complete” at the end of next month and he has been formally asked to stand for a position.

It seems Mbalula’s naked ambition has been his undoing.

His ally said he had been warned about coming out too early and making his ambitions clear.

“In politics you don’t play your cards openly. Your enemies will know what you’re thinking.

“He is predictable and playful, something Gauteng has been telling him about,” said the ally.

His comrades’ warnings about being too outspoken on Mangaung matters seem to have angered Mbalula.

“We told him the truth about his comrades and friends, (but) he didn’t listen to us. Now we’re (accused of) sabotaging him,” the ally told City Press.

KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala, who is a former Mbalula ally, said choosing leaders was not about friendship.
“We were not a bunch of associates, but people working in an organisation,” said Zikalala, who is lobbying for Zuma’s re-election at Mangaung.

“We agree on issues now but can differ later. There are no permanent friends and permanent enemies in the ANC,” he said.

A Zuma-supporting national executive committee member said it was clear from early informal talks between provincial leaders that Mbalula would not make it.

“Some people have been throwing a blanket over his head. They misled him badly,” the source said.

An Eastern Cape leader said Mbalula’s campaign had been undermined by the association with expelled former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, because some people feared Malema would return to the party.

Picks for the top six at Mangaung

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