President Jacob Zuma has given a spirited motivation for a power sharing formula that could see those who lose elections in the ANC accommodated in a supporting leadership role.
Zuma told the more than 3700 ANC delegates attending the party’s national policy conference in Nasrec in Johannesburg yesterday that in the case where two candidates contested for the presidency position, the loser could automatically become a deputy.
A second deputy president post could also be created to accommodate the winner from those contesting the deputy president post.
However, Zuma did not seem to enjoy the support of all those attending the conference, amid speculation that the proposal would undermine democracy in the ANC and create a situation where leadership positions were arranged.
Zuma’s detractors have read the proposal as a concession that his preferred successor and ex-wife, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was not receiving sufficient support from the delegates and could lose to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa when the ANC elects new leaders in December.
“Even if you do not use it (the proposal) in this upcoming conference and use it in the next one, I will be happy,” Zuma said, seemingly alert to suspicions that the proposal could be self-serving and intended to sneak Dlamini-Zuma into the top post in the event of an unfavourable election outcome.
“I’m ready to go from province to province and motivate for this proposal because I believe it is correct,” Zuma said, urging ANC branches to closely look at the possibility to create a second deputy president post.
He said, repeatedly, that the proposal was the best idea to root out entrenched factionalism and slate politics in the ANC, which often saw the dominant faction cleaning up all the posts.
The ANC constitution could be changed to accommodate the proposal, he said.
“You cannot say the ANC constitution cannot be changed. You can have whatever formula, but the fact is that this is a remedy to kill factions.”
He said it was practical to have two deputy presidents.
“For us to succeed we need to get rid of factions.”
The problem with a total takeover by one faction, he said, was that in the next five years there was a silent war that destabilised the ANC. “This means slate politics and those defeated start plotting.
“Let us not say those who lost go out and nobody comes in. Factions have become so deep. You almost have a situation that looks like two organisations exist in one. I believe we need to get rid of factions. That is the proposal you must go and discuss,” he said.
A senior ANC leader, touted among those who could serve as the second deputy president, told City Press that taking a leadership post on the basis of being “accommodated” was not an option.
Ahead of the conference, which kicked off last Friday, Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile warned that the proposal could fail if those sponsoring it simply present it as a solution to avoid factions.
“The proposal emanates on the basis that we need to strengthen the ANC as the strategic centre of power.” However, he said “others may have a different view”.
“This is still subject to debate and discussions with other provinces. It is still a raw proposal that has not been refined yet. I’m sure when we discuss organisational renewal it would be refined.”
There are those who are arguing that some of these proposals are being put forward to accommodate factions, Mashatile said.
“And when people have that view they might reject it.”