Limpopo - The biggest ANC region in Limpopo by numbers, Sekhukhune, seems to have broken ranks with the province’s resolution not to support President Jacob Zuma at the ruling party’s elective national conference in Mangaung in December.
Delegates at the regional general council threw their weight behind Zuma on Sunday, but it is not clear whether this will translate into votes to boost the ANC leader’s bid for a second term.
Sekhukhune’s decision flies in the face of the province’s resolution not to support Zuma’s second-term ambition.
Limpopo is the home province of Zuma’s arch-rival, axed ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, who is an ally of provincial chairman and Premier Cassel Mathale.
The two politicians want Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to take over from Zuma. Motlanthe has yet to publicly declare his intentions.
Sekhukhune’s decision may threaten Motlanthe’s support in the province and undermine Mathale and Malema’s efforts to deliver the province as a block in Mangaung.
But Motlanthe leads Zuma by a small margin because anti-Zuma forces won four of the province’s five regional conferences early this year.
They are Sekhukhune, Mopani, Vhembe and Capricorn, although with mainly smaller margins.
Zuma’s allies are in charge of Waterburg, but are said to be making inroads in Sekhukhune and Capricorn.
A majority of delegates wore newly printed T-shirts bearing Zuma’s face.
Soon after Mathale addressed the delegates, they expressed their confidence in Zuma through song.
“Sihamba no president, sihamba no Msholozi (We are going with Zuma),” they sang.
The Sekhukhune region is the home of Mathale’s deputy, Dickson Masemola, who supports Zuma.
Stoffel Sekwane, a member of the Mmanoko Tshehla branch in the Elias Motsoaledi municipality, made it clear he wanted a second Zuma term.
He criticised a discussion document drafted by the ANC Limpopo leadership, singling out the positions of ANC president and secretary-general as those that required unique leadership qualities.
The document is designed to guide and influence ANC branches in the province ahead of Mangaung.
Zuma detractors also want ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe to make way for national executive committee member Fikile Mbalula, who is sport minister.
Sekwane said: “If you want to assess the Presidency, assess Kgalema too. And if you want to assess the secretariat, you must also assess Thandi Modise [Mantashe’s deputy].”
Sekwane said they did not have a problem with Motlanthe. “Kgalema is the next president after Zuma, as long as he does not contest [the president’s position] in Mangaung,” he said.
Another Zuma supporter, Namudi Matjomane, chairman of the Rietfontein branch, said: “Sekhukhune says Zuma for second term.”
Paul Mnisi, from the Batau Bakone branch in Tubatse, said Zuma had to be defended because he was an elected ANC leader.
He also said Sekhukhune was a no-go area for Malema.