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PIET RAMPEDI and LEBOGANG SEALE
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A WIN for President Jacob Zuma in Mangaung will be a win for the DA – and expedite the demise of the ruling party, a political analyst said.
Professor Lesiba Teffo told The Star yesterday that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe would disappoint many party members and some South Africans who are non-ANC members should he not challenge Zuma.
The president looks set to be re-elected at the party’s national elective conference next month.
But Motlanthe’s aides have repeatedly said he would stand if nominated by the branches because he respected their right to elect leaders and would not be party to “leadership by arrangement”.
While Teffo believed Motlanthe would challenge Zuma and possibly win, two other analysts – Professor Steven Friedman and Ralph Mathekga – said it was unlikely because branch nomination figures did not favour Motlanthe.
Friedman said Motlanthe was unlikely to avail himself because most branches seemed to favour Zuma.
Mathekga said Motlanthe faced a dilemma because if he withdrew from the race, he would have betrayed the political careers of many of his backers.
If he went ahead and challenged Zuma, the president’s supporters would accuse him of being a detractor.
Speculation that Motlanthe might not challenge Zuma comes after some of his backers privately expressed concerns about his failure to show his hand, saying his fence-sitting harmed their campaign.
Mathekga and Teffo said that the level of politically motivated violence, intolerance, intimidation and threats in the run-up to Mangaung was high compared to the same period before the 2007 conference in Polokwane
Teffo said victory for Zuma would be a boost for opposition parties ahead of the 2014 general elections.
“If Jacob Zuma wins it is also a plus for a party like the DA because that would expedite the demise of the ruling party. And that is why some members of the ruling party are so anxious that Zuma shouldn’t win, or if possible, should withdraw because his victory would definitely ensure the collapse of the ANC,” said Teffo.
He said even the ANC’s rank-and- file agreed that Zuma was not doing a good job, “but a few influential souls” who would benefit from his return to office were pushing for his re-election.
The determination and spirited campaign of Motlanthe’s lobbyists showed he was already in the race, added Teffo.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe dismissed as “rubbish” Teffo’s assertion that a win for Zuma would amount to a victory for the DA.
“Zuma contests no elections. The reality is that we are not America. We are not running an election of a president. We are running an organisation and not Zuma. The ANC is not Zuma.’’
Friedman said there was a “significant” chance of Motlanthe remaining Zuma’s deputy after Mangaung.
Mathekga agreed that Motlanthe was likely to withdraw from the race and “talk unity”, but said that would have serious political implications for him, more so than his supporters.
“If he withdraws, he will go down in history as someone who betrayed many people.
“Someone who is calculating and someone who did the cost-benefit analysis where he is serving his own skin and he does not have integrity,” Mathekga warned.