He may be out of the spotlight, but it seems expelled youth league leader Julius Malema is still pulling the strings behind the scenes after he managed to sway his former organisation not to nominate Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale as the party’s candidate for deputy president.
The league’s national executive committee and provincial delegates met on Thursday when, according to impeccable sources, Malema lobbied hard to ensure that ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa was nominated as deputy president, while the league compromised on Sexwale as treasurer-general.
Phosa represented Malema, who used to be a Sexwale ally, at his first disciplinary hearing and has in the past defended the expelled leader.
The Sunday Independent has learnt that there was fierce division in the league over which of the two men should be on the ballot when the ANC meets for its conference in Mangaung next month. Some in the league have accused Malema of serving Phosa’s interests.
“Malema’s agenda is to make sure that at least one province nominates Phosa,” said a Gauteng leader, who asked not to be named. The league is treated as a province at the ANC’s national conference.
The names of Phosa and Sexwale have torn apart the camp that supports Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as its presidential candidate. Some in Gauteng are refusing to be associated with the Malema lobby and are indirectly distancing themselves from Phosa.
On the other hand, Malema and his lobby group are vehemently opposed to Sexwale ascending to the second- highest office in the party.
A senior ANC leader, who asked to remain anonymous because of infighting, said money was at the centre of the two fierce campaigns. He said he could not elaborate on who was funding whom.
Malema could not be reached for comment.
The youth league agreed that Motlanthe should take over from President Jacob Zuma.
Yesterday the youth league’s deputy president, Ronald Lamola, denied that Malema had influenced their nominations processes – or even taken part.
He said the league had been undecided on who out of seven names to nominate as deputy president and “still needed to consult with all the structures of the ANC Youth League in other provinces”, Lamola said.
The Sunday Independent was reliably told that the contest was fierce and the margin very close.
Malema’s close allies said Lamola and several other youth league members had preferred Sexwale.
It had been decided Phosa was the best candidate as he had done very well as the ANC’s treasurer general.
Phosa had also helped the youth league in difficult times.
The source said Sexwale should have been rejected after declaring on television that he was ready to become the president.
The source added: “In fact he should have been rejected by the ANC the moment he said that. That is un-ANC. You allow the branches of the ANC to nominate you.
“Tokyo wants to become the president by hook or by crook. We don’t need those types of leaders.”
He lashed out at Sexwale’s “uncontrollable ambition”.
When asked why Sexwale was nominated as a treasurer general, he said: “We are doing this for the sake of unity of the Forces of Change. It’s important we accommodate even those we have serious problems with. We are not arguing that he does not have the qualities.”
Meanwhile KwaZulu-Natal is expected to nominate Zuma today for a second term.
The Sunday Independent understands that some branches wished for Motlanthe to be retained while others want businessman Cyril Ramaphosa to replace the former.
KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairman and Premier Zweli Mkhize
said while they would be the biggest delegation in Mangaung, he cautioned delegates that they should use their powers and influence responsibly.
SACP general-secretary Blade Nzimande said KwaZulu-Natal should not be apologetic about being the largest province in the ANC.
The ANC audit teams sent out by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe are battling to complete the verification of branch meetings to nominate the next crop of ruling party leaders.
Most provinces are expected to hold their provincial nominations conferences this week, giving a clear indication whether branch members want Zuma to continue leading the party for the next five years.
Motlanthe is yet to openly and officially accept nominations or at least indicate that he would challenge Zuma in what could be the second most divisive power struggle after the 2007 succession battle between Zuma and Thabo Mbeki.
- Additional reporting by Babalo Ndenze, Marianne Merten and Shanti Aboobaker
from the Sunday Independent.