Addressing hundreds of Christian followers and ANC supporters in Durban at the weekend, ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala said it was high time the party’s national executive committee (NEC) opened the succession debate.
The gathering of church leaders from various denominations at People’s Park in Durban was to pray for President Jacob Zuma, who was also present, to be protected from his adversaries within and outside the ANC.
Late last year, the NEC put a lid on the debate, saying members should focus on matters to be discussed at the party’s national policy conference next month.
However, Zikalala, whose leadership structure supports Dlamini-Zuma to replace Zuma, said the debate “should just be opened once and for all”.
“It is the high time that the national executive committee releases structures of the ANC to discuss the leadership issues. If the leadership issues are not discussed openly we will continue to have senior leaders and national officials dividing provinces by addressing cadre forums, which are outside the framework of the organisation, at night,” he said.
The ANC in the province last week lashed out at deputy president Ramaphosa for addressing a cadres’ forum in Newcastle without informing the province.
The province was also annoyed when Ramaphosa and former KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu visited a Shembe church gathering in Empangeni, on the North Coast. They interpreted this as part of Ramaphosa’s campaign for the ANC national conference next month.
During the prayer service, eThekwini regional secretary Bheki Ntuli said the biggest ANC region in the country had endorsed Dlamini Zuma as the next president.
However, Zikalala said he would not concur with Ntuli until the NEC opened the leadership debate.
“But what eThekwini region is saying makes sense to me,” he said.
Zikalala outlined reasons why Zuma had become a target within the ANC and among opposition parties.
He said Zuma had created enemies by calling for radical economic transformation, which angered the monopoly capital “led by the DA”.
“They are angry and they are launching a war against the ANC, and they are starting by targeting the president as the head of the ANC,” he said.
Ntuli said the eThekwini region had decided who would be elected at the December conference: “As the region we will fight until we break hands and feet, conducting door-to-door campaigns, because we want Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to occupy Mahlambandlovu (the presidential residence in Pretoria).”
Zuma called on the SACP and Cosatu to stay out of the ANC leadership debate and focus on solving their own problems: “We don’t hear them discussing the future of the workers, but they are busy discussing the ANC. Ever since the ANC was started, you never heard it, even for a single day, discussing one of the alliance partners.”
He said whenever the ANC had its meetings it would either discuss its own way forward or its challenges. “You never heard us mentioning the name of another organisation in the alliance. Cosatu should focus on issues of the workers, SACP should focus on its own business and Sanco should stop dividing the country,” he said.
Last week, Sanco endorsed Ramaphosa as the next ANC president.