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Johannesburg - Emboldened by their victories in Limpopo and the Western Cape, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s supporters have vowed to make a dent in President Jacob Zuma’s support in Mpumalanga, the Free State and parts of KwaZulu-Natal before Mangaung.
The Motlanthe camp say their win in these two provinces has boosted their campaign to depose Zuma, adding their lobbyists would sway votes in their favour, “barring the rigging of elections”.
This came as Zuma’s supporters in Limpopo credited former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema for their defeat, saying he had engineered their downfall.
They also blamed their woes on the national executive committee’s (NEC) alleged failure to sort out the dispute over credentials and their provincial leaders’ decision to boycott the conference.
Limpopo ANC leaders said their victory had boosted their political standing and confirmed that party members had confidence in Premier Cassel Mathale.
Apart from Motlanthe, the tense provincial nomination meeting had endorsed ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa as deputy president, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula as secretary-general and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale as treasurer.
Political analyst Professor Tinyiko Maluleke said Motlanthe’s victory in the two provinces was unlikely to be enough to dislodge Zuma.
However, Limpopo was a potential swing province at Mangaung because it is the third biggest ANC province after KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
“If KZN and Eastern Cape do not necessarily vote according to what the nomination tells us, Limpopo’s votes could become very critical in tipping the scale one way or the other,” said Maluleke.
Motlanthe’s lobbyists believe their forces on the ground could convince Zuma supporters to ditch him “because his time is over”.
They reiterated that removing Zuma was the only way to “save” the ANC and convince those who had left the ruling party for Cope after the 2007 national conference in Polokwane to return “home”.
The Peter Mokaba ANC regional chairman in Limpopo, Lawrence Mapoulo, said their victory was confirmation that a significant number of ANC members were tired of Zuma’s “poor” leadership.
“Zuma’s time is over. We want to inject new blood so that by 2014, people will rejoin the ANC, including those who have left for Cope. They will return if we elect Motlanthe. We are certain that we are going to influence most provinces. As much as we can be seen as rural and backwards, we are going to give direction to the whole country,” Mapoulo said.
He said Motlanthe’s victory in Limpopo did not come easily, because the conference was “facilitated by those who were conflicted and they are having interest”.
“We need people not to [pull the] rug [from under] processes, but it is unfortunate that some of the leaders, not all, are trying to collapse conferences of the movement because of these interests,” Mapoulo added.
A pro-Motlanthe provincial executive committee (PEC) member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their successful nomination had boosted their political agenda across all fronts.
“Politically, it has also boosted our standing as the leadership of this province because we were doubting the capacity and capability of this leadership.
“It also shows that people have confidence in this PEC because we did everything by the book to allow everybody to participate, including those who had their own ulterior motive to collapse the conference to send a message that there is no leadership in Limpopo, which I think backfired,” said the PEC member.
“We are convinced that, moving forward, we will convince other comrades to support our cause.”
But Zuma supporters dismissed this as wishful thinking. They blamed their defeat on the “misguided” decision to walk out in protest against alleged bogus voters.
“They have proved that they can’t be leaders. In politics, you can’t win a conference from outside. According to me, this is Grade 1 political science,” the source said.
Apart from crediting Malema, another Zuma lobbyist blamed the NEC members who oversaw the conference, saying they had failed to resolve the dispute involving 94 delegates.
“Julius is happy where he is. That guy is dangerous… He knows how to mobilise,” said the Zuma lobbyist.
Malema declined to comment on Thursday. - The Star