The race is on: Incumbency can save Zuma

2012-04-01 07:58

President Jacob Zuma has strong support in the ANC to stay on for a second term. But even some of his own supporters feel he should step down as the country’s president in 2014 and be replaced by a candidate like businessman Cyril Ramaphosa.

City Press spoke to businesspeople, leaders in five provinces, ANC national executive committee (NEC) members and youth leaders about Zuma’s re-election.
The main theme from the Zuma camp is the push for continuity, to avoid a whole new slate of leaders replacing the top six, as happened after the party’s 2007 Polokwane conference.

Ayanda Dlodlo, secretary-general of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), a lobby group close to Zuma, said although it was too early to discuss leadership issues, they “don’t want a situation where everybody goes, even if we are calling for change”.

“Right now Jacob Zuma is the president of the ANC and our choice remains Zuma until such time that we have exhausted our discussion.

“After the (ANC) policy conference (in June) we will look at what kind of leadership we need for policies. If Zuma fits the bill, we will go for him.”

A national executive committee (NEC) member who supports Zuma said he had to stay on for another term in the ANC and government to see through the multibillion rand infrastructure projects he announced in his state of the nation address.

Zuma has previously said he would only serve one term as president but he later changed his tune, saying he would comply with the wishes of party members.

Zuma’s position is strengthened by the fact that he has the support of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, said political analyst Susan Booysen, author of a recent book on the ruling party.

“The secretary-general knows where branches are strong, and which ones are defunct. Kgalema Motlanthe was secretary-general when Thabo Mbeki was ousted and he knew where the branch gaps were. You could tell people to resurrect branches and you can make sure that the right group is going out and reconstituting the branch,” she said.

Sources across the camps reckon Zuma has close to the full support of the biggest ANC province in the country, KwaZulu-Natal, which, according to unaudited

January membership figures, could constitute almost a quarter of delegates to the elective conference in Mangaung in December (see graphic).

He also has the support of party leaders in the Eastern Cape, the second largest province, but the regions are divided. Limpopo, which is seen to be leading the
charge against Zuma, is also divided with about 40% of delegates at the province’s recent conference voting for his supporters.

At least two sources, one from the business community, said they reckon the allegations around Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s partner, Gugu Mtshali, point to a problem more serious than any previous allegations of wrongdoing against Zuma.

Mtshali was recently implicated in soliciting a R104?million “fee” to get government backing for a South African company trying to clinch a R2 billion sanctions-busting deal with Iran.

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