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SLATES – the ANC leadership candidate lists – continue to make the rounds in the face of condemnation by senior leaders and officials, as factions in the party seek to position themselves for the December elective conference in Mangaung.
The permutations of lists floating around provinces, and regions within the provinces, seem endless. Some give weight to the ANC Youth League’s call for leadership change, to replace President Jacob Zuma with his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, as party president and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe with Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Others are decidedly pro-Zuma, linking him with those long considered to be close to him such as Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, a former youth activist, pops up on several lists, as do ANC disciplinary appeals committee boss and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel and even Higher Education Minister and SACP boss Blade Nzimande.
The latest slate, reportedly under the banner “Anything But Zuma”, features Tokyo Sexwale, the human settlements minister, as president.
“People who get involved in punting this stuff are behaving like it is an American primary,” says Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy. “We are in a situation in which, because we continue to have this absurd rule that nobody can talk about things, people are trying it on, are flying a kite, testing the waters. And they are doing this through the media.”
And so it is likely that the latest slate is a way to test the waters on behalf of Sexwale to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment of 2007, when he withdrew his push for presidency during the Polokwane conference after it became clear that he lacked support.
Senior Eastern Cape and Western Cape ANC officials dismissed Sexwale’s campaign in their provinces as “speculation”.
Sexwale has spent time in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape, where his budget speech coincided with the launch of another phase of the N2 Gateway housing development in Langa.
Meanwhile, Zuma has handed over cattle and tractors in the Eastern Cape, where he will find himself again next week to deliver the next ANC centenary lecture.
But at last weekend’s KwaZulu-Natal ANC conference, Zuma and Sexwale made a grand entrance together with Premier Zweli Mkhize. Sexwale sat next to Zuma, chatting and singing along to the delegates’ pro-Zuma songs.
Is it a case of Et tu, Brute?
No one touted on any given slate will confirm or deny their intentions. That would be “un-ANC”, given the party’s quaint notion of leadership as service of the people, regardless of the numerous examples of the grab for resources.
The ANC’s organisational renewal discussion document proposes a ban on “wrongful lobbying”, such as fund-raising for campaigns, producing T-shirts and posters and promising positions to gain support. It calls for candidates to be made to declare their financial interests and for this process to be streamlined by an integrity commission.
For now, however, the official party line emphasises process: nominations open only in October and will be followed by a series of gatherings of ANC structures, culminating in nine provincial list conferences close to Mangaung, most likely at the end of November.
The Sunday Independent