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HUMAN Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale might have to contest the quinquennial ANC elective conference in Mangaung without the backing of the youth league, which is likely to propose party treasurer Mathews Phosa in his place.
The Sunday Independent has learnt that an increasing number of influential ANCYL leaders agreed to drop Sexwale, initially billed as a potential deputy to Zuma’s perceived main challenger Kgalema Motlanthe.
The ANCYL leaders meet at the end of this month in Joburg ahead of the ANC’s official opening of the nomination process next month.
Sexwale’s supporters, however, say he might just make it to the deputy’s post ahead of Phosa because his campaign got a shot in the arm when a clandestine meeting of ANC national executive committee (NEC) members, provincial leaders and “influential leaders” opposed to Zuma’s second term met in Joburg this week.
In what appears to be divisions in the anti-Zuma campaign, the ANC in Gauteng also has its list, which excludes Phosa but has Sexwale as a deputy.
The ANCYL leaders insist, however, that any campaign that has Sexwale will be stillborn. “Tokyo harbours ambitions of becoming president. He is not going to give Kgalema a chance. He is going to want to be president the moment the elections in Mangaung have been announced,” one youth league leader said.
Mandulo Maphumulo, the acting spokeswoman for Sexwale, declined to comment. “We are not commenting on that,” she said.
Phosa called on all ANC members to abide by the decision of the NEC not to start the nominations process until next month.
He said the ANC would “very soon” distribute the nomination forms to all its branches throughout the country for them to start nominating party leaders for the Mangaung conference.
“I am aware of the many lists that are [floating] the air. We don’t think that is anything to be excited about at this stage. We respect the right of branches to assess us and we will not interfere but we will distribute the nomination forms in due course,” Phosa said.
The position of deputy secretary-general was left vacant as all present at this week’s secret meeting could not agree on a name. Also, the group did not reach consensus on the next national chairperson, a position currently occupied by Baleka Mbete.
KwaZulu-Natal, the home province of Zuma, and the Eastern Cape – the two expected to send the largest number of delegates to the elective conference – are expected to fill either the deputy secretary-general’s or the national chairman’s positions.
“KZN and EC will fill in the two vacant names, preferably with female candidates, though KZN raised Zweli Mkhize and Senzo Mchunu’’s names for the chairmanship. What is clear from KZN’s six biggest regions, including prominent PEC members, is that they don’t want Jacob Zuma as president in December but most (are) scared…” an SMS circulated to reporters after the meeting read.
KZN ANC secretary Sihle Zikalala said his province had not agreed to second Mkhize nor Mchunu for a position in the top six in the ANC. “Issues of the ANC are not discussed through SMSes. They are discussed through structures,” Zikalala said.
The Northern Cape was the only province that was not represented at the secret meeting.
Former national police commissioner Bheki Cele attended Wednesday’s meeting in Johannesburg as the group’s point-man in KwaZulu-Natal.
At a separate meeting, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile apparently tore into Zuma, whom he did not name, telling the provincial leaders that the ANC, under Zuma, has been “worse” than what it was before the Polokwane conference five years ago.
Brian Hlongwa, the head of the ANC political education department in Gauteng, followed with a similar attack.
The provincial leader said it was strange though that Mashatile used the occasion to launch an attack on expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema despite the fact that the two belonged to the so-called “forces of change” cohort.
“He said Julius was a project that went wrong, he cannot be trusted and that he is a demagogue.”
Mashatile reportedly told the meeting that the ANC took too long to discipline Malema and that this was a sign of the crisis in the ANC.
Mashatile – the man credited with stopping the ANC general council in September 2010 from collapsing, using his position as the “chair of chairs” to rein in the youth league – is punted as the national treasurer on the Gauteng list. The Gauteng provincial leaders have proposed ANC NEC member Joel Netshitenzhe for the secretary-general’s position, and not Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula.
The move is likely to pit the youth league and the ANC in Gauteng because the league took a resolution two years ago that it would nominate, for the secretary-general’s job, Mbalula, who, interestingly, was nominated for the same position by the NEC members, provincial leaders and the “influential leaders” this week’s clandestine meeting.
Yesterday, Gauteng ANC spokesman Nat Kekana confirmed that the PEC met last weekend to conduct the final assessment of the leadership but declined to comment on the list. He said the provincial leaders have completed their assessment of the ANC leadership.
“It is up to the regions to conclude theirs and for branches to start the process of nomination. The regions are meeting this weekend. We are talking to our regional leaders.
“However, the PEC has concluded its part in terms of the assessment,” Kekana said.
The stance of the youth league – which has gained a reputation in the country for being the kingmaker in ANC elections – is significant as Sexwale had in the past helped the league financially and had gone to the extent of defending Malema during his disciplinary hearing.
Sexwale’s testimony at the hearing in defence of Malema cemented the perception that the youth league would support him in the acrimonious battle for the leadership positions in the ruling party.
The SACP had in the past also dismissed Malema’s call to nationalise the country’s mines as a ruse to bail out struggling black economic empowerment companies like Mvelaphanda Holdings, the mining firm which Sexwale founded.
The Sunday Independent spoke to eight leaders – three of whom attended the Gauteng PEC meeting and two from the secret gathering – about the proposed names and most claimed there could be a clash ahead of Mangaung because the youth league would insist on Mbalula, as opposed to Netshitenzhe.
The eight spoke on condition of anonymity because the ANC has banned any talk of possible names for leadership positions ahead of the Mangaung meeting.
The so-called “forces of change” lamented, among other issues, Zuma’s moral stature, his “misogynist” view of women and “attempting to please all”.
One provincial leader who attended the Gauteng meeting said Zuma had become an “arbitrator of the parties with differing interests instead of being the president of the country”.
A youth league leader said a list without Mbalula, or with Sexwale would not succeed in Mangaung.
“Wait for the youth league to pronounce. Wait for mkhomba ndlela (lead the way) from the youth league,” the leader said.
Gauteng proposed that former youth league leader Febe Potgieter be the deputy secretary-general and that Mashatile take over from Phosa as party treasurer.
“They are mad. How is this going to fly with three candidates – Motlanthe, Sexwale and Mashatile – coming from Gauteng. You can’t have the top six dominated by Gauteng. Gauteng wants us to support them but they don’t want to support our candidate. This is mad,” the youth league member said.
Yesterday, Mashatile, Mkhize and Mchunu could not be reached for comment.