Battle for ANC: Jacob Zuma's survival plan
Lucrative state tenders, worth hundreds of millions, have emerged as a massive electoral carrot and intimidation tool as the ANC leadership battle hots up.
And KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC’s biggest province and President Jacob Zuma’s home province, has emerged as the epicentre of the battle for the ANC presidency.
With two weeks before the ANC is expected to formally open nominations, the undeclared race for leadership between Zuma and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, reached fever pitch this week with lobby groups ramping up their activities.
The Sunday Tribune has established that important second-tier ANC leaders, provincial and regional chairs, have been strongly lobbied – and those contemplating voting against Zuma have been reminded that they would lose their access to influence government tenders.
“We were told that we would be out in the cold… that we would go hungry,” said one.
The “national coalition”, an informal structure formed to work for the return of Zuma to office, met in KZN this week to ramp up its activities. The coalition was expected to convene in the Northern Cape at the weekend where members were expected to lobby the provincial chairman, John Block.
Sources said Block would be told corruption charges against him would be dropped in return for his support for the Zuma lobby. In KZN fraud and corruption charges were dropped against ANC heavyweights Peggy Nkonyeni and Mike Mabuyakhulu in a case that involves Block. The Sunday Tribune has it on authority that the national coalition includes KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize, Free State Premier Ace Magashule, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza and SACP chairman and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.
In Limpopo, Zuma lobbyists include Joe Paahla and Joe Maswanganyi. In the North West, the national coalition key member is provincial chairman Supra Mahumapelo.
The Sunday Tribune understands that one of the main reasons the pro-Zuma lobby was in KZN was to deal with divisions in what was thought to be a fully Zuma province.
A number of regional leaders have been upset by utterances from Sibongiseni Dlomo, chairman of the eThekwini region, who pronounced the structure would support Zuma’s re-election.
Working for the accession of Motlanthe to power is a group called the “change coalition”, which includes senior leaders from KZN, Gauteng, Limpopo and North West.
The group wants Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale as Motlanthe’s deputy.
The coalition is built around Motlanthe, who is said to have expressed a desire to be ANC president, but not president of SA.
He wants to be an ANC president based at party headquarters Luthuli House, with the mission of building the ANC.
This scenario would be attractive to a running mate – the person who would emerge as ANC deputy president at the Mangaung elective conference. While Sexwale is the front-runner, this position is regarded as “open”.
Several sources revealed members of the change coalition as Motlanthe, Sexwale and leading ANC officials in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KZN, Limpopo and the North West.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is the presidential candidate of a group campaigning for a change of leadership in the African National Congress (ANC), following a meeting of provincial leaders and campaign managers in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Behind-the-scenes lobbying has reached fever pitch a month before the ANC allows candidates for national leadership positions to be nominated in preparation of its December conference.
Several sources in the party said yesterday that senior leaders from eight provinces, some serving in the national executive committee, met to thrash out a list of potential leaders.
The campaign managers will take the list to branches, the key structures nominating leaders for election at the conference.
The meeting was dominated by politicians associated with the Anyone But Zuma (ABZ) group, who also call themselves the "forces of change".
Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has been the face of the ABZ campaign, speaking out around the country despite the party’s attempts to keep a lid on the succession debate.
Party leaders who attended the meeting, who did not want to be named, said they agreed that Mr Motlanthe would be the presidential candidate, with Mr Sexwale as his deputy president. Neither Mr Motlanthe nor Mr Sexwale were at the meeting.
The emergence of distinct leadership lists — called slates in the ANC — has been cited by the party’s leadership as the cause of lasting divisions.
Compared to the past, where ANC leaders were elected on a consensus basis, with lobbyists combining teams of the best leaders available, the slate system has been criticised for its "winner takes all" approach.
A team working to ensure the re-election of President Jacob Zuma as leader of the party is also finalising its candidate list.
An SMS doing the rounds in the party punts Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor as the next treasurer-general, replacing Mathews Phosa in a slate topped by Mr Zuma.
Mr Motlanthe is on Mr Zuma’s supporters’ slate as his deputy and Jessie Duarte is recommended to replace Thandi Modise as deputy secretary-general.
An ANC leader said yesterday that it was a "tragedy" that the lobbying groups had not by now settled on one list, to avert a bun fight at the conference that could weaken the party even further.
The 2007 Polokwane conference saw ANC leaders elected in a divisive ballot, with delegates unable to reach consensus.
Senior ANC leaders said yesterday that they were concerned that another bruising battle would leave the ANC paralysed. In the 2009 general elections and last year’s local government polls, the ANC’s majority was reduced — a result of the divisions following the 2007 conference, leaders said.
Sources who attended Wednesday night’s meeting, which ran into the early hours yesterday, said there was heated discussion about the list. While they agreed on Mr Motlanthe as presidential candidate, Mr Sexwale was up against Mr Phosa for the position of deputy president.
Mr Sexwale has done a lot of groundwork in the Eastern Cape, which resulted in an ABZ victory last month at the ANC OR Tambo region’s leadership elections.
A Zuma backer said yesterday that the decision on who would stand as Mr Motlanthe’s deputy was "the most crucial part of the campaign" and it had been "tearing people apart".
The jostling for positions in the change group could spark disunity among them.
There was also tension around the position of secretary-general, with supporters of Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula warding off a call to retain Gwede Mantashe.
Sources said another meeting was planned for Monday in Johannesburg, at which leaders from all the provinces would decide on the rest of the top six positions.
Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale might have to contest the ANC elective conference in Mangaung without the backing of the youth league, which is likely to propose party treasurer Mathews Phosa in his place.
The Sunday Independent has learnt that an increasing number of influential ANCYL leaders agreed to drop Sexwale, initially billed as a potential deputy to Zuma’s perceived main challenger Kgalema Motlanthe.
The ANCYL leaders meet at the end of this month in Joburg ahead of the ANC’s official opening of the nomination process next month.
Sexwale’s supporters, however, say he might just make it to the deputy’s post ahead of Phosa because his campaign got a shot in the arm when a clandestine meeting of ANC national executive committee (NEC) members, provincial leaders and “influential leaders” opposed to Zuma’s second term met in Joburg this week.
In what appears to be divisions in the anti-Zuma campaign, the ANC in Gauteng also has its list, which excludes Phosa but has Sexwale as a deputy.
The ANCYL leaders insist, however, that any campaign that has Sexwale will be stillborn.
“Tokyo harbours ambitions of becoming president. He is not going to give Kgalema a chance.
“He is going to want to be president the moment the elections in Mangaung have been announced,” one youth league leader said.
Mandulo Maphumulo, the acting spokeswoman for Sexwale, declined to comment.
“We are not commenting on that,” she said.
Phosa called on all ANC members to abide by the decision of the NEC not to start the nominations process until next month.
He said the ANC would “very soon” distribute the nomination forms to all its branches throughout the country for them to start nominating party leaders for the Mangaung conference.
“I am aware of the many lists [that are around]. We don’t think that is anything to be excited about at this stage. We respect the right of branches to assess us and we will not interfere but we will distribute the nomination forms in due course,” Phosa said.
The position of deputy secretary-general was left vacant, as not all at this week’s secret meeting could agree on a name.
Also, the group did not reach consensus on the next national chairperson, a position currently occupied by Baleka Mbete.
KwaZulu-Natal, the home province of Zuma, and the Eastern Cape – the provinces expected to send the largest number of delegates to the elective conference – are expected to fill either the deputy secretary-general’s or the national chairman’s positions. “KZN and EC will fill in the two vacant names, preferably with female candidates, though KZN raised Zweli Mkhize and Senzo Mchunu’s names for the chairmanship. What is clear from KZN’s six biggest regions, including prominent PEC members, is that they don’t want Jacob Zuma as president in December but most (are) scared…,” an SMS circulated to reporters after the meeting read.
KZN ANC secretary Sihle Zikalala said his province had not agreed to second Mkhize or Mchunu for a position in the top six in the ANC. “Issues of the ANC are not discussed through SMSes. They are discussed through structures,” Zikalala said.
The Northern Cape was the only province not represented at the secret meeting.
Two sources – an NEC member and a provincial leader – said former national police commissioner Bheki Cele attended Wednesday’s meeting in Joburg as the group’s point-man in KwaZulu-Natal.
However Cele denied this on Saturday. “I was at my home in Durban on Wednesday, sleeping. Unless somebody says I was a holy ghost, which can be at two places at once,” Cele said.
Cele was fingered in an intelligence report that he, Sexwale and a group of ANC leaders intended to topple Zuma at Mangaung.
At a separate ANC Gauteng meeting, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile reportedly tore into Zuma, whom he did not name, telling the provincial leaders that the ANC, under Zuma, had been “worse” than what it was before the Polokwane conference five years ago.
Brian Hlongwa, the head of the ANC political education department in Gauteng, followed with a similar attack.
The provincial leader said it was strange though that Mashatile used the occasion to launch an attack on expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema despite the fact that the two belonged to the so-called forces of change cohort.
“He said Julius was a project that went wrong, he cannot be trusted and that he is a demagogue.”
Mashatile reportedly cited the Limpopo textbook saga and the Marikana tragedy, which Malema exploited, to demontrate that the ANC was in crisis.
Mashatile – the man credited with stopping the ANC general council in September 2010 from collapsing, using his position as the “chair of chairs” to rein in the youth league – is punted as the national treasurer on the Gauteng list.
The Gauteng provincial leaders have proposed ANC NEC member Joel Netshitenzhe for the secretary-general’s position, and not Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula.
The move is likely to pit the youth league against the ANC in Gauteng because the league took a resolution two years ago that it would nominate for the secretary-general’s job Mbalula, who, interestingly, was nominated for the same position by the NEC members, provincial leaders and the “influential leaders” at this week’s clandestine meeting.
On Saturday Gauteng ANC spokesman Nat Kekana confirmed that the PEC met last weekend to conduct the final assessment of the leadership but declined to comment on the list. He said the provincial leaders had completed their assessment of the ANC leadership.
“It is up to the regions to conclude theirs and for branches to start the process of nomination.
“The regions are meeting this weekend. We are talking to our regional leaders. “However, the PEC has concluded its part in terms of the assessment,” Kekana said.
The stance of the youth league – which has gained a reputation in the country for being the kingmaker in ANC elections – is significant as Sexwale has in the past helped the league financially and has gone to the extent of defending Malema during his disciplinary hearing.
Sexwale’s testimony at the hearing in defence of Malema cemented the perception that the youth league would support him in the acrimonious battle for the leadership positions in the ruling party.
The SACP had in the past also dismissed Malema’s call to nationalise the country’s mines as a ruse to bail out struggling black economic empowerment companies like Mvelaphanda Holdings, the mining firm that Sexwale founded.
The Sunday Independent spoke to eight leaders – including three who attended the Gauteng PEC meeting and two from the secret gathering – about the proposed names and most claimed there could be a clash ahead of Mangaung because the youth league would insist on Mbalula, as opposed to Netshitenzhe.
The eight spoke on condition of anonymity because the ANC has banned any talk of possible names for leadership positions ahead of the Mangaung meeting.
The so-called forces of change lamented, among other issues, Zuma’s moral stature, his “misogynist” view of women and “attempting to please all”.
One provincial leader who attended the Gauteng meeting said Zuma had become an “arbitrator of the parties with differing interests instead of being the president of the country”.
A youth league leader said a list without Mbalula, or with Sexwale, would not succeed in Mangaung.
“Wait for the youth league to pronounce. Wait for mkhomba ndlela [lead the way] from the youth league,” the leader said.
Gauteng proposed that former youth league leader Febe Potgieter be the deputy secretary-general and that Mashatile take over from Phosa as party treasurer.
“They are mad. How is this going to fly with three candidates – Motlanthe, Sexwale and Mashatile – coming from Gauteng? You can’t have the top six dominated by Gauteng. Gauteng wants us to support them but they don’t want to support our candidate. This is mad,” the youth league member said.
On Saturday Malema, Mashatile, Mkhize and Mchunu could not be reached for comment.