Mangaung, 17 December 2012. Trevor Manuel arrives at the ANC's 53rd conference. He has said he is not available to be re-elected to the NEC. photo Greg Marinovich / Newsfire

Cape Town - Senior officials in the ANC’s provincial office say Trevor Manuel has the potential to play a significant contributing role in the party’s bid to reclaim the Western Cape in 2014.

This comes in the wake of Manuel’s announcement on Saturday that he would decline a nomination to the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC).

Cobus Grobler, media liaison for the ANC in the province, would not comment on whether Manuel is a likely candidate to lead the party going into the 2014 elections. He agreed that Manuel could.

“Manuel and Marius Fransman (the current chairman of the Western Cape’s ANC) are close friends with a long history together in the party’s Mitchells Plain office. I do not foresee a situation where they will become adversaries,” he said.

“If Manuel was to commit to the election campaign, it will substantially increase our firepower. To incorporate someone with his expertise and stature would be no mean feat. Apart from just that, he resonates well with the people of the Western Cape.”

Fransman has also declined a seat on the NEC, saying that he does not want to divert his attention from reclaiming the Western Cape in 2014.

“Whilst it would undoubtedly be an immense honour to serve on the NEC, it is in the best strategic interest of the ANC Western Cape that as chairperson I rather remain fully committed to intensifying our programme in the province, which includes unifying and rebuilding our movement,” he said in a statement on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, he added: “My national and international duties already take up a lot of my time; to further split my responsibilities is not what I want to do.

“Reclaiming the Western Cape, which is socially and politically the most complex province in South Africa, is not a provincial matter.

“It should be high on the national agenda, and that is the message that I and a number of delegates want to convey at Mangaung.”

Fransman said Manuel would be welcomed as a role-player in the party’s election campaign.

“He is an individual who has stood the test of time in the ANC. In so doing, he has become a household name nationally, internationally and in the Western Cape. Manuel has all the elements to help us. My leadership style has been to open up the ANC and to embrace the capacities and the capabilities of other comrades,” he said.

Manuel’s office could not be reached for comment this morning.

He has, however, not given any indication that he will play an active role in the ANC’s bid to win elections in the province come 2014.

In an interview with WhatsUpANC, Manuel said he had been a member of the NEC for 21 years and the time had come for him to move aside and allow younger people to step up.

Cape Argus