Emboldened by its successful nomination of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as a preferred candidate for the ANC presidency in Mangaung, the party’s Liliesleaf farm branch has moved to “launch him properly”.
Independent Newspapers understands that the branch immediately decided to invite Motlanthe to address its members on his plans for the party and the country should he take over at the ANC’s elective conference next month.
This came after the branch, based in Midrand, nominated Motlanthe over the weekend.
It also immediately launched a scathing attack against “scandal-prone” President Jacob Zuma, saying he had presided over a country and party crippled by one crisis after the other.
It is believed that Motlanthe will challenge Zuma for the party’s top job.
The elite branch boasts as members senior ANC, government and business leaders such as Gauteng ANC secretary David Makhura, former director-general in the Presidency Frank Chikane and former national director of public prosecutions bosses Vusi Pikoli and Menzi Simelane.
Independent Newspapers has seen a statement issued by the branch in which it lambasts Zuma.
It said that under his leadership, the ANC has been marred by scandals “leading to a mass and fast erosion of public confidence in the ANC and state by society it leads”. It added that the ruling party needed Motlanthe to restore confidence and ensure that they did not lose power in Gauteng to the DA in 2014.
“As a leader of society, [Motlanthe], as a matter of urgency, [must] restore that lost confidence. Lest we go through the same political cul-de-sac that all African liberation movements went through after their 20 years in power, or lose to the DA in 2014,” read the statement.
Branch chairman Luther Lebelo declined to comment on the nomination outcome, the apparent intention to invite Motlanthe to address the branch and the statement attacking Zuma. But a branch member, who did not want to be named, confirmed that the branch had decided to invite Motlanthe.
He said this would be an opportunity to “launch” Motlanthe, who has not declared whether he would be challenging Zuma.
“We intend inviting him towards the end of November. The sole purpose is to launch him properly. His silence is frustrating our campaign,” the branch member said.
He added that the branch also wanted to use the occasion to intensify the campaign for Motlanthe.
The elite branch gave Motlanthe the nod to lead the ANC with a landslide majority. Of the 173 delegates who took part in the nominations, Zuma only got 13 votes. Independent has learnt that Simelane was among the members who voted for Zuma.
“It’s his choice,” said a member who wanted to remain anonymous.
It is understood that Motlanthe is leading Zuma in Gauteng with a bigger margin. He apparently won 138 of the 232 branches that have nominated their preferred leaders so far.
Independent Newspapers has been reliably told that there has been a dramatic increase in nominations for Motlanthe in provinces such as Mpumalanga and the Free State.
A Zuma lobbyist denied this was a setback for the ANC leader. “The reality is we are neck and neck with the ABZ camp. There is no such thing as clean sweep in Gauteng. They must not make claims and say they have an upper hand. We are confident that we’ll deliver Zuma.”
But a Motlanthe lobbyist said: “Change is both necessary and unstoppable!”