ANC branches in the Dullah Omar region have endorsed Mathews Phosa as their preferred presidential candidate for the party’s elective conference in December. Picture: Phando Jikelo
The ANC succession race is heating up as individuals and groups chop and change names in a bid to make their preferred candidates known ahead of the party’s national elective conference in December.

In what marks a start to a rigorous lobbying campaign, some members are seemingly turning down positions while others are lapping up endorsements from regional and provincial structures.

On Saturday, Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula confirmed he had not approached the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) before he publicly endorsed Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Twitter as the man he preferred to succeed Gwede Mantashe as secretary-general of the ruling party.

The youth league had cited Free State Premier Ace Magashule for the post.

“No, I haven’t talked to the league,” Mbalula commented, saying “it’s ok” when asked about what his views were about the ANC in Gauteng stating that Makhura was not interested.

In a series of tweets, Mbalula said while he was not part of any faction, Makhura had all the ingredients of a good leader and was a hard-working, honest cadre.

ANCYL spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize would not be drawn into whether the league would entertain Mbalula’s sentiments on Saturday. 

“We have not considered what he has said,” Mkhize said.

He added that the young lions' national executive committee had already announced its top six candidates as Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for president, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza as her deputy, Magashule as secretary-general, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane as treasurer-general and Jessie Duarte as deputy secretary-general, with Mbalula as her deputy.

“It is an issue that involves structures and about sitting down as the ANCYL and mapping a way forward once we have consulted everyone,” he said.

Nominations will be put forward in September.

And while the succession debate gains momentum and ANC members prepare themselves for the policy conference on June 30, some analysts say it is common for leadership talk to overtake policy matters.

Political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi said: “No one ought to cry foul at the rapid manner in which this is going because this succession race kicked off without the blessing of the leadership.

"This is partly because some leaders themselves violated the rules by announcing who should lead the ANC in the future. The horse has already bolted.”

Matshiqi said delegates to the ANC policy conference will most likely face challenges as the centre is no longer holding because of internal leadership strife.

Sunday Independent