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Cape Town -
With less than a week to go until the ANC’s crucial Mangaung elective conference, its deeply divided Western Cape leaders have hurled insults, with Songezo Mjongile accusing Marius Fransman of dictatorship for proposing a 10-year term of office for Jacob Zuma.
Fransman, the provincial chairman, responded by accusing Mjongile, the provincial secretary, of stupidity. Fransman had claimed to the media the province wanted the ANC constitution amended to double the term of the party’s top six leaders from five to 10 years.
He had argued that such a move would bring stability to a party beset by internal battles over the choice of leadership.
Fransman wants ANC president Jacob Zuma given a second term while Mjongile wanted Zuma replaced by ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe.
At Wednesday’s ANC Western Cape provincial council, 99 votes were cast in favour of Motlanthe and 90 for Zuma.
On Friday, Fransman said the province would propose a constitutional amendment at Mangaung and that there was support for such a move.
Mjongile said neither Wednesday’s council nor one held in June had decided on a constitutional amendment.
“It is not a provincial position at all. If we take such a position, it will be undemocratic. It is draconian. The right of ANC ordinary members to decide on leadership must not be interfered with. Giving10-year terms means putting some people in government for 10 years - meaning you want to change the constitution of the republic. It is akin to dictatorship,” Mjongile said.
He said Fransman, as international relations and co-operation deputy minister had a personal interest in a 10-year term for top ANC leaders who had appointed him.
“It is his master’s voice. It is very unfortunate and we must guard against this. Once we start toying with such ideas it will lead to changing the country’s constitution and us having life presidents,” he said.
Fransman hit back saying: “I don’t believe Songezo could have said those things. It is politically stupid. It is stupidity at its highest level.”
He said the June provincial council had not decided on a constitutional amendment, but had agreed members were entitled to their own views and seek support for them. He said all delegates to Mangaung had a right to propose issues for discussion at the conference.
“If anyone says there has been no instability in the last two years and the last few months, it is being stupid. I stand by what I said.”.
He said ANC members were entitled to air their views about Zuma’s leadership and while this should be done within party structures, some members had publicly criticised and insulted Zuma.