‘We will take on agitators’

2009-09-19 15:19

WHILE President Jacob Zuma is trying to douse talk about the party succession in 2012, it is likely to dominate trade union federation Cosatu’s congress, which starts tomorrow.

Last week the Congress of SA Trade Unions warned of coup-plotting within the ruling party. At the heart of the ­debate is whether ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe should be replaced by a youth leader.

The Gauteng ANC leadership is set to discuss succession in the ruling party when it meets tomorrow.

This follows discussions this week by the province’s national working committee about whether there should be a change in the ANC national leadership in 2012 when the term of office of current party leaders lapses.

This week Gauteng ANC secretary David Makhura said the party backed the current leadership as it had led the party well so far.

The performance of Zuma’s team, he said, could only be reviewed at the 2012 conference, but provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile wanted the issue on the agenda.

“Paul and his team are making the same mistake that they committed ­before Polokwane. How do you resolve 2012 when the general membership has not discussed the matter?” asked a provincial executive member.

Mashatile, former Gauteng premier, is smarting from his perceived demotion to deputy arts and ­culture minister under Zuma’s administration. The current premier, ­Nomvula Mokonyane, is dismantling his web of influence across the province’s civil service.

The 2012 discussion comes in the wake of claims that there is a group within the party which wants to oust the ANC secretary-general at the next ANC national conference and replace him with party campaigns boss and former Youth League leader Fikile Mbalula.

Even though Zuma told the Eastern Cape ANC conference delegates last week that the succession debate was premature, some delegates told City Press that what happened at the province’s conference would determine whether or not Mantashe would keep his position.

A victory of the left, under new ­Eastern Cape ANC chairperson and prominent SACP leader Phumulo Masualle, is what Mantashe needed to ward off his rivals.

Eastern Cape SACP secretary and central committee member Xolile Nqatha said: “Those who are pursuing the 2012 vision (to oust Mantashe) are on the back foot with the outcome of the Eastern Cape conference, but they have not abandoned their agenda. It would be foolish of us to think so.

“If we had lost Eastern Cape we’d have been positioned on the defensive. So the Eastern Cape outcome has significance for the entire movement,” he said.

Even though the ANC Youth League has said it is too early to open up the ­“divisive” issue of succession for debate, it was understood that it backs ­Mbalula. The league felt that there would be no reason for Mantashe to stay on if Zuma stepped down in 2012.

Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi said the federation would take on those who were “agitating” for change in the ANC ­leadership.

“We know that people are meeting ­behind our backs and agitating for change.

“They are a small group and we are not taking that group lightly. We want to engage with it in defence of the working class. I don’t want to reduce it to ­personalities,” said Vavi.

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