Zuma has ‘no sleepless nights’

2011-07-15 14:49

President Jacob Zuma has downplayed the tensions in the ANC ahead of the ANC’s Mangaung elective conference next year.

“There is no battle for the soul of the ANC,” he said. Zuma was addressing the media at the launch of the party’s centenary celebrations in Joburg earlier today. The ANC turns 100 on January 8 next year.

Zuma said there would be a battle for the soul of the governing party if there were external people who were seeking to seize control of the ANC.

He lashed out at the media, saying it was responsible for creating the impression that there were leadership battles in the party.

He said ANC members were within their rights to talk about their preferred candidates. Zuma and the ANC Youth League are at loggerheads. The league’s leader Julius Malema has publicly launched veiled attacks on Zuma.

The so-called young lions are pushing for the removal of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe to replace him with Fikile Mbalula, a close ally of Malema’s, and the current minister of Sport and Recreation.

The league is also calling for the opening of the succession debate. This call has the backing of the influential ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile.

But the ANC national executive committee has barred members from entering into “premature” succession debate.

The league has made it clear that it will only back leaders who will support its nationalisation of mines and expropriation of land without compensation campaigns.

In a veiled attack on Zuma, Malema recently extolled former president Thabo Mbeki for being one of the best ANC leaders.

Mbeki was unceremoniously booted out of his position as the country’s president in 2008 by the ANC’s national executive committee, the highest decision-making body between conferences.

He was Zuma’s nemesis at the eventful Polokwane conference in 2007.

Now, as part of its centenary celebrations, the ANC has decided to dedicate the month of November next year to Mbeki.

The governing party will also celebrate his birthday on June 18 next year. The ANC’s theme for its centenary celebrations is “unity in diversity”.

Zuma said: “The celebration of the centenary will reflect the unity that has always characterised the organisation, and the social cohesion that the ANC has promoted throughout its history.”

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