13/01/2014. Dr Thabo Mbeki delivers the keynote address on the opening of UNISA's College of Human Science (CHS) at UNISA, Pretoria. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Johannesburg - Some Gauteng ANC branches have nominated former president Thabo Mbeki to return to Parliament as an MP in a list packed with President Jacob Zuma’s critics or political rivals.

Mbeki’s name appears on the 51st spot on the province’s list of 200 candidates for the National Assembly.

Mbeki’s endorsement comes a few months after Gauteng ANC secretary David Makhura reportedly said the province had asked him to help woo middle-class voters to the ruling party, because of Zuma’s perceived unpopularity with that section of society. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has since dismissed the plan.

Gauteng has also nominated Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to be an MP, just over a year after the province unsuccessfully campaigned for him to replace Zuma as ANC president at the Mangaung conference.

Also nominated by the province are former ANC national executive committee (NEC) members Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa, who opposed Zuma at Mangaung.

The Gauteng list is topped by Zuma, who toppled Mbeki as ANC president in 2007 and subsequently led an ANC national leadership that fired him as the country’s president in 2008.

Mbeki’s former cabinet ministers – then public works minister Thoko Didiza and former provincial and local government Minister Sydney Mufamadi – also made the list. Both resigned from their positions in 2008 in protest against Mbeki’s ousting.

Gauteng, which did not support Zuma’s re-election in Mangaung, also nominated former Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale to return to Parliament.

Mathale, under whose leadership the Limpopo ANC opposed Zuma’s second-term bid, was fired as premier by the ANC NEC last year and redeployed as an MP.

Metalworker union Numsa’s general secretary Irvin Jim and his ally, embattled Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, have also been nominated. Both are known Zuma critics, and have apparently declined nomination.

Gauteng’s nominations came as the ANC’s national list conference was due to begin in Centurion today. The list conference is usually marred by tension and fallouts.

Gauteng ANC spokesman Dumisa Ntuli confirmed Mbeki’s nomination, saying he was the choice of several branches in the province.

“Our branches have nominated Mr Thabo Mbeki. They have shown their confidence in his leadership.”

Ntuli added it was up to ANC leaders at Luthuli House to contact Mbeki personally to confirm whether he was available. He said it was up to Mbeki to decline or accept.

Mbeki’s spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said he could not comment as he had not spoken to Mbeki about the matter.

Ntuli confirmed Jim and Vavi had declined nomination.

Under Jim, who is 83rd on the list, Numsa took a resolution to withhold its election funds from the ANC and not to support the party’s campaign.

Motlanthe is in the 11th spot, followed by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, ANC national chairwoman Baleka Mbete and Struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

ANC Gauteng chairman Paul Mashatile is fifth, with AU Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma 17th. Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj and former ANC Youth League treasurer Pule Mabe, who is facing criminal charges, have also been nominated.

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The Star