Sexwale ‘out of race for top spot’

2012-09-10 09:57

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has backed out of the race for ANC president – for now.

Sexwale refused to comment this week, but his supporters in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape told City Press they had reached a “compromise” with supporters of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

As part of this deal, Motlanthe would, as presidential nominee, top the list of leaders put forward by the “forces of change” group wanting to see President Jacob Zuma replaced at the ANC’s conference in Mangaung in December this year.

Sexwale would stand as his deputy.

But an Eastern Cape lobbyist said only Motlanthe’s position was agreed on, and the group differs over who to put up in the key position of party secretary-general.

City Press spoke to seven people who either attended the meeting or kept close watch on it.

Some want to retain Gwede Mantashe in the position, Gauteng wanted national executive committee member Joel Netshitenzhe, while ANC Youth League lobbyists want Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula.

Almost all the key lobbyists in the “pro-change” group, which comprises regional and provincial leaders, met in Johannesburg on Wednesday night to try to agree on a candidate list.

Representatives attended from all the provinces except the Northern Cape, which was preparing for Zuma’s centenary lecture on Friday.

The group is set to continue discussions this week.

A Sexwale lobbyist said Sexwale’s supporters reluctantly agreed to back Motlanthe because it would give them a better chance of defeating Zuma.

Sexwale has spent the last four months campaigning as an alternative candidate.

The lobbyist said Motlanthe has already told two Gauteng leaders he would not stand if his name is on a slate.

“But in 2007 he was elected as part of a slate, so we said this is rubbish,” he said.

“Motlanthe is already in the presidency and we heard that there are people already looking at keeping the status quo,” he said.

“If Motlanthe is going to that conference (Mangaung) and think that he will surprise us (by supporting the status quo), we will push Tokyo Sexwale as president,” he said.

As a “safety measure” Sexwale’s supporters want him to be on the nominations list of all the provinces.

A Sexwale aide confirmed that Sexwale has stepped back. He speculated that the pro-change camp could even be forced to “retreat” because their divisions were weakening their campaign.

But a Gauteng lobbyist said Motlanthe had given provincial leaders the assurance that he would run as president, leading the party’s provincial executive committee to resolve behind closed doors this week that they would support him.

He denied the camp was weakened by divisions.

“We had 14 names (for the top six positions), and it is now down to eight. It is not a problem if we nominate different people for these positions, as long as we have fixed on the presidency.

“We want to get away from the slate approach. What we are gunning for is a broad consensus for change,” he said.

The pro-change lobby claim to have support in the leadership of all provinces, but admits to being weaker in KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and Mpumalanga.

Lobbyists said they have been speaking to campaigners in six out of eight regions in KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s stronghold, but wanted to protect their identities because they claim to fear intimidation and even assassination.

A source close to Mbalula said Sexwale “was never outside” Motlanthe’s plan.

“Tokyo was our mobilisation man. We knew and he also knew it is time for Kgalema to take over. September is coming to an end and the ANC will open the nomination process. We need to unveil the face (to challenge Zuma).”

Not a single woman made it to the slate.

A source lobbying for Mbalula said top ANC women who the pro-change group had banked on, defected to the Zuma camp.

A pro-change lobbyist in Gauteng said the province would propose current deputy secretary-general Thandi Modise for chairperson and Luthuli House official Febe Potgieter-Gqubule for Modise’s current position.

The North West and Eastern Cape have also been tasked to come up with proposals.

ANC branches have this month started discussing who they want to see nominated for leadership positions, ahead of the start of the party’s nominations process in October.

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