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Now that the ANC’s stalled nominations process has been concluded, the next big question is whether those whose names have been put forward will agree to stand for election at the party’s Mangaung conference, in just over a week’s time.
A big question mark hangs over the head of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and whether he will agree to go up against President Jacob Zuma for the job of party boss. Another hovers over ANC heavyweight and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, nominated to replace Motlanthe as deputy president by most of those provinces backing a second term for Zuma, bar the Northern Cape, which has named Motlanthe.
The ANC’s electoral commission is expected to approach nominees in the coming days to formally ask them whether they are prepared to stand. ANC national spokesman Jackson Mthembu said a statement would be issued once this had been done.
In terms of ANC rules, it is only then that open campaigning can legitimately get under way, although unofficial lobbying and horse-trading has been under way for months. This leaves candidates scant time – particularly Motlanthe, whose strict adherence to the rules have painted a picture of him being almost reluctant to take on the top job.
With Limpopo and the Western Cape concluding fraught nominations processes on Thursday, the numbers appear to be stacked in favour of Zuma. He has been nominated by KZN (with 974 delegates), the Eastern Cape (676), Mpumalanga (467), the Free State (324), North West (234) and the Northern Cape (176).
He has been endorsed by the ANC Women’s League (45) and the ANC Veterans’ League, and will get support from some of the 82 national executive committee (NEC) members and the 180 votes to be cast by provincial ANC leaders.
Motlanthe has been nominated by Gauteng (500), Limpopo (574) and the Western Cape (178), and has also been endorsed by the ANC Youth League (45). He, too, will get some support from provincial and NEC leaders.
With some slight variations, the Zuma camp’s slate features Ramaphosa for deputy president, Baleka Mbete (chairwoman), Gwede Mantashe (secretary-general), Jessie Duarte (deputy secretary-general), replacing North West Premier Thandi Modise, and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize as treasurer-general in place of Mathews Phosa. The Free State wants its premier, Ace Magashule as chairman and Mbete for deputy president.
Perhaps indicating that the Forces of Change are divided over leadership, pro-Motlanthe provinces and the youth league show more variation, with Phosa for deputy president, Fikile Mbalula as secretary-general, Modise as his deputy, Thenjiwe Mtintso as chairwoman and Tokyo Sexwale as treasurer-general. Gauteng has Sexwale for deputy president, Mantashe as secretary-general, Febe Potgieter-Gqubule as his deputy and Paul Mashatile as treasurer.
Analysts and commentators are holding out little hope of Motlanthe’s chances, and there is concern among some senior leaders that he could be lost to the leadership altogether.
The bruising nominations process – from branch through to provincial level – has made the road to Mangaung fraught with allegations of vote rigging and violence. While the ANC has deployed national leaders to defuse disputes and its electoral commission will be considering complaints, there’s a concern that disputes will play out at Mangaung itself.