President Jacob Zuma. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Durban - The ANC’s top six officials have retreated to a secret location to prepare for the party’s all important national executive committee (NEC) meeting this weekend.

This comes in the wake of what promises to be the ruling party’s “intense” weekend as it prepares for the upcoming general elections.

The committee, the party’s highest decision-making structure between national conferences, would meet in its second scheduled meeting of the year in Pretoria on Friday.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu on Thursday confirmed that President Jacob Zuma, his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, general secretary Gwede Mantashe, deputy general secretary Jessie Duarte, national chairwoman Baleka Mbete and treasurer general Zweli Mkhize were meeting at an undisclosed location.

However, he refused to elaborate, saying it was an internal party matter.

“Definitely from time to time we go to a retreat as officials, but this is an internal matter. So when the top six retreats, it doesn’t tell who will join it,” said Mthembu.

He said the NEC meeting would be followed by the party’s two-day lekgotla, “to review progress made on the objectives and priority areas of the current term of government”.

The outcome of the NEC lekgotla would shape the tone and content of Zuma’s State of the Nation Address next month.

On Monday, the party would hold its national list conference. It is expected to be an emotional process marred by intense lobbying.

Party lists, which often resulted in fallouts, would form the basis of who would be elected to parliament and the legislatures after the elections.

Mthembu said the list conference would be attended by NEC members, the national list committee and the provincial leadership to consolidate the candidate list for the general elections.

While the majority of ANC members would have to slug it out to make the cut, the top 25 percent of candidates – in terms of the number of votes received at provincial party lists – were guaranteed their seats as per ANC guidelines.

The guidelines further state that any candidate must be nominated by at least five ANC branches to be considered for the ballot that the list committee would draw up at provincial level.

“List processes by nature will cause tensions in the organisation because some win and some lose and the order of names is important,” warned the guidelines.

But Mthembu said the party was not anticipating any problems and would manage any fallout from the list process.

He said in the event, any party member who believed they had been treated “unfairly” could appeal.

The party’s list guidelines for the upcoming elections state that the party would need:

* 400 candidates for the National Assembly.

* 200 candidates on the so-called “national-to-national” list.

* 200 candidates on the various so-called “province-to-national” lists.

* Candidates for the nine provincial legislatures on the “province-to-province” lists which range from 30 to 80 in their number of candidates.

This weekend would also feature provincial election manifesto launches and the ANC’s 102-year celebrations.

Political Bureau