NGC a curtain raiser to ANC succession battle - analyst

2015-10-09 08:15


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Johannesburg - The ANC's National General Council (NGC) this weekend is seen to be the curtain raiser for the succession battle leading up to the 2017 national elective conference.

This is despite the party saying it will focus on policy discussions, calling on its members to desist from talking about succession.

Political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi spoke to News24 on the eve of the NGC, which gets under way in Midrand on Friday, on what is expected from the conference.

'Premier league'

This comes at a time when there has been a lot of speculation about a strong lobby group in the ANC dubbed the "premier league".

The "premier league" is said to include Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo and Free State Premier Ace Magashule.

It is alleged that their plan is to entrench themselves as leaders or kingmakers for 2017.

It is also believed that the group wants Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed her ex-husband as leader of the ANC.

According to Matshiqi, policy has taken a back seat to factionalism and lobbying during the mid-term review.

"Given the fact that what is animating the popular imagination at the moment is the emergence of the so-called premier league and the idea of a third term for Jacob Zuma, policy has become something in our analysis and expectations subordinate to expectations about the NGC being a precursor to the 2017 national conference," he said.

But what would happen was anyone's guess, he said.

Previous NGCs

Looking back at previous NGCs, Matshiqi said the June 2005 NGC had become a template for this weekend's conference.

The 2005 NGC saw the launch of the rebellion against then president Thabo Mbeki and the rise of President Jacob Zuma.

There was a similar expectation at the 2010 NGC, after the watershed Polokwane conference, which saw Zuma unseat Mbeki as ANC president.

In 2010, the ANC Youth League, then under the leadership of Julius Malema launched a rebellion against Zuma.

The league at the time had two goals - to radicalise ANC policy and remove Zuma at the 2012 Mangaung elective conference.

However, neither of these happened.

But despite the belief that once again factionalism would dominate the NGC, Matshiqi said it did not mean that there would be no discussions on policies or immediate proposals.

Economic crisis

The NGC was taking place at a time when the country was going through a serious economic crisis and it seemed GDP growth and job creation would remain "anaemic".

It was also a time in which the youth lacked opportunity and were in a state of hopelessness which some called the ticking time bomb of South Africa's social and political reality, he said.

"This is the one NGC where [the ANC] should come out with clear ideas of how the economy can be turned around."

However, Matshiqi said it was doubtful whether this would be the case.

The noise coming out of the ANC and some of the leagues was strongly aligned to the so-called premier league and this click seemed to have the upper hand.

"It is not clear whether the premier league is interested in policy matters and the signal that sends is that the premier league offers nothing more than the continuation of naked battle for power and money."

Policy debates

But to what extent would policy debates happen?

Matshiqi points to the discussion on state-owned enterprises, saying this was one which had to be watched closely.

"It is likely to be one of those debates out of which we are going to hear proxy arguments for or against certain political leadership preferences," he added.

There seemed to be a mismatch between the ANC's strategic goals and the capacity of the party and the state.

To some extent the capacity of the state was undermined and compromised by the capacity of the ANC, Matshiqi said.

The state of the ANC was undermined by the fact that it was highly factionalised.

"Factions do not act in the interest of the ANC nor do they act in the interest of the country... they act in pursuit of marrow and political goals.

"Therefore, the strategic goals of the country and the strategic goals of the ANC are not a priority to those who are factional in their thinking," Matshiqi said.

Read more on:    anc  |  politics  |  anc ngc

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