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Johannesburg - The ANC Youth League will “never turn its back on comrade Tokyo”, insiders told The Star on Sunday.
This was stated despite reports that it had dumped him in favour of ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa for the position of deputy president at the ANC’s national conference in Mangaung in December.
However, while the league will back Sexwale for re-election to the national executive and working committees of the ANC, it does not consider Sexwale a suitable deputy to its chosen candidate for the top job, Kgalema Motlanthe.
“You want a president who will have stability, with an executive that supports him. You can’t trust comrade Tokyo… to do that,” said a senior member of the league, who cannot be named as the ANC has banned speculation ahead of the opening of the official nomination process.
She said it was common knowledge that the league supported leadership change, and would nominate Motlanthe for the position of ANC president when the nomination process opens next month.
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza confirmed on Sunday that the audit of the party’s branches was “complete or nearing completion” and that the nomination process would begin on schedule.
The ANC’s highest decision-making body between conferences, its national executive committee (NEC), is expected to finalise the process when it meets at the weekend.
The youth league member said Sexwale’s history of “lobbying” was perceived as a problem, adding that it did not “take the issue of the deputy presidency lightly”.
“So we are going to be sceptical [of him],” the league NEC member said.
She said the call for Sexwale to fill the position of president of the ANC come Mangaung, had never emanated from the league. “There are many capable people – comrade Tokyo has never been our candidate.”
She said the ANCYL’s 24th national congress in Midrand last year had taken a resolution to nominate its former president, Fikile Mbalula, for the position of ANC secretary-general in Mangaung, adding that the position of secretary-general was “non-negotiable”.
The league would also continue calls for current deputy secretary-general Thandi Modise to be retained, and for Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile to be elected into one of the top six positions.
In light of reports that Mashatile had recently lambasted expelled youth league president Julius Malema as a “project that went wrong”, the senior league member said the names it had put forward were “tried and tested”.
“If comrade Paul spoke out against comrade Julius… the leadership should be able to speak out. We take it in the spirit of debate within the ANC.”
Meanwhile, a source inside the Sexwale camp said calls for the retention of Gwede Mantashe as ANC secretary-general had come from Sexwale backers who wanted continuity in the top-six leadership.
He warned, however, that things were “fluid” and were likely to look very different from week to week in the run-up to the ANC formally opening the nomination process.
He said that when the so-called “Anything But Zuma (abz)” camp came into the open about four months ago, it consisted of a “loose grouping of people in the country who were [questioning] Zuma’s ability to run the country”.
“There were no names attached. The second phase is much broader – the so-called ‘forces for change’, with some backing Tokyo and some backing Kgalema,” the source said.
He said the league’s support of Phosa might be viewed as a concession towards continuity, but that the treasurer-general had had a historically good relationship with the league.
“This is the kind of jockeying [you find] in the closed process. I think it’s going to be much less structured and harder to read [once the formal nomination is opened],” he said, adding it appeared it would be much more murky than in the run-up to the last national conference in 2007.
“It’s very different from Polokwane, where, I think, provincial leaders came confident that the provinces would vote as a bloc,” he said.
In the run-up to Mangaung, however, there were differences over leadership preferences, even between districts within a region, let alone provinces.
He cited the recent OR Tambo regional conference in the Eastern Cape – perceived as a victory for the ABZ camp – as an example, saying there were districts who “don’t want Kgalema”.
He added a “potential scenario” in which Zuma took on Sexwale on his slate “to keep Kgalema [at bay]”.