CLARION CALL: President Jacob Zuma greets the delegates at the ANC policy conference in Midrand last month. Delegates sought to renew the ANC in the run-up to the partys 53rd elective conference in Mangaung in December. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Moffet Mofokeng

The ANC’s Joburg region – the biggest and most influential in Gauteng – has decided that President Jacob Zuma is the wrong man to lead the party.

The region is also courting regions in other provinces to thwart Zuma’s re-election bid at the party’s quinquennial elective conference in December in Mangaung, Free State.

Zuma’s deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, is expected to accept nominations – if any – and challenge him.

However, an Ekurhuleni leader yesterday said his region and Tshwane could deviate from Joburg’s decision and defend Zuma’s leadership.

He said Joburg was “influenced” by the Gauteng provincial executive committee (PEC), which took a decision that Zuma’s leadership was weak, based on the quality of the party’s policy conference last month.

“(The Gauteng PEC) looked at the quality of policy discussion documents, the low standard of resolutions and that this was the worst policy conference ever.

“And on that basis, they decided that Zuma’s leadership could not take the organisation forward. But they will face resistance from us and Tshwane,” said the Ekurhuleni leader who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.

Gauteng has decided to allow its regions to evaluate the current leadership, without discussing names.

Joburg was the first to convene such an assessment meeting, which was held last weekend.

The regional meeting was attended by the top five regional executive committee members, four leaders from each of its 16 zones, five representatives from the region’s women’s league and four from the veterans’ league.

The regional youth league was invited to the meeting but, according to ANC regional secretary Dada Morero, could not attend because it had its own meeting that weekend.

“The (purpose of the) meeting was (to assess) the policy conference, but I can’t divulge its content, because it was a closed meeting,” said Morero.

It became apparent during the debate that delegates cared little about the policy conference, but wanted to assess the performance of the party’s national leaders since the 2007 Polokwane conference.

It was ruled that names would not be discussed, but this was not successful, as Zuma’s name dominated the meeting.

The other four regions – Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Sedibeng and West Rand – are expected to hold their own evaluation meetings this weekend and next month.

Eight ANC leaders and members from the four regions told The Sunday Independent that their evaluation of the current leadership would be fierce and frank.

ANC provincial executive committee member Nkenke Kekana was only prepared to say that the provincial general council took a decision in June that all regions should assess the leadership in accordance with the party’s constitution.

A senior Joburg regional executive leader who attended the meeting said the region decided on “leadership renewal and generational change”.

Pressed further, the executive – who could not be named because the meeting was a closed session – bluntly said the region was “clear that we don’t want President Zuma”.

He said some delegates in the meeting raised Zuma’s “scandalous and embarrassing” leadership and “the crises” that had engulfed his presidency since he came to power three years ago.

On generational change, he said this was in line with Gauteng’s general council’s decision in June, which included consideration for “intergenerational learning, balancing continuity and change to ensure the preservation of organisational memory and experiences, as well as renewal and replenishment”.

According to a Gauteng ANC executive committee member, this meant that Zuma and his generation – aged around 70 – should pass the baton on to the next generation.

“We hoped that Zuma would understand that his generation in the ANC comprises less than 10 people (such as) Pallo Jordan and Zola Skweyiya.

“They are supposed to be elders of the party and not jostle for positions,” said the provincial leader, who also asked not to be named. The Joburg region – according to the regional executive – will lobby for Zuma to hand over the leadership to a younger generation.

“We don’t want a general mix as espoused by the (Julius Malema) youth league, we need change, the handover from one generation to the next,” he said.

However, national chairman of the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association, Kebby Maphatsoe, who attended in his capacity as a regional leader, and Pretty Xaba (popularly known as MaMkhize), the treasurer of the women’s league in the region, defended Zuma.

Xaba – an ANC MP who was propelled to national politics after her famous dance routines outside the Johannesburg High Court during Zuma’s rape trial in 2006 – told the meeting that she would support Zuma because he was from her home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Xaba declined to comment, saying “that was an ANC meeting”.

“It has nothing to do with you. Please leave me alone,” she said.

Maphatsoe, who expressed his support for Zuma, cautioned the region against targeting the president, urging delegates to evaluate the entire presidency – which includes Motlanthe.

Maphatsoe declined to comment.

The Joburg region also discussed its “comrades’ factional slogans” during the policy conference.

Xaba apparently adamantly argued that KwaZulu-Natal delegates would continue “singing loudly” about Zuma in the run-up to Mangaung as they did in the build-up to the Polokwane conference.

One Joburg leader argued that some of the slogans were similar to those chanted by IFP members.

Maphatsoe apparently confirmed that some of the KwaZulu-Natal members who chanted the slogans were recruited from rural KZN and were indeed members of the IFP, but defended the slogans.

Meanwhile, Joburg is hoping to form an informal network of regional chairmen from six provinces, except the provinces that supported Zuma, such as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Free State.

Another Gauteng provincial leader said such an informal forum was actually co-ordinated at the policy conference to lobby for an anti-Zuma policy direction.

Three leaders from Gauteng, Western Cape and the youth league confirmed the unofficial structure.

However, Zuma’s campaigners claimed that the policy conference confirmed that he has a two-thirds majority support in the party.

Meanwhile, The Sunday Independent understands that the party’s provinces have managed to convince the national executive committee (NEC) – the highest decision-making body between conferences – to bring forward the date to nominate leaders to September.

This is according to two members of the NEC who attended the party’s lekgotla (an expanded meeting) this weekend in Pretoria.

The NEC had imposed a moratorium on succession and nomination until October.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe insisted yesterday that the October deadline remained.

“There was no such a debate in the NEC, let alone an announcement about the date,” he told The Sunday Independent.

However, our two NEC sources, and a Gauteng ANC official, stood by their statements, adding that they saw a letter informing them about the date change.