As the gov­ern­ing party pre­pares for a highly charged pol­icy con­fer­ence this week, se­nior lead­ers are work­ing to pro­duce a list that in­cludes all fac­tions at the top-tier

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The ANC could end up with a bloated top struc­ture as fu­ri­ous horse trad­ing among the party’s provinces took place this week to avoid a bruis­ing con­test at the na­tional con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber. As things stand, Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and for­mer African Union Commission chair­per­son Nkosazana DlaminiZuma are the fron­trun­ners in a pres­i­dency race that could po­ten­tially be worse than the 2007 Polok­wane race be­tween Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki.

There was a scram­ble this week to com­pare lists and reach con­sen­sus, with chair­per­sons and sec­re­taries of provinces criss­cross­ing the coun­try to lobby about a lead­er­ship col­lec­tive that would ap­peal to all sides within the ANC.

An ANC in­sider, who at­tended the meet­ing, said: “The meet­ing hap­pened on Tues­day ... There have been nu­mer­ous meet­ings, for a while now. This thing in­volves chairs and sec­re­taries. That is how deep this thing is.

“All things are co­or­di­nated. In these meet­ings of ba­sic-minded peo­ple who want unity, we throw all names in a pot and see how best we can work on con­sol­i­dat­ing unity.”

Sev­eral provinces held pro­vin­cial gen­eral coun­cil (PGC) meet­ings this weekend to prepare for the ANC’s na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence, which starts on Friday.

The need to foster unity is in­formed by the threat of a ma­jor elec­torate loss when South Africans go to the polls in 2019.

The dif­fer­ences over lead­er­ship are al­ready af­fect­ing a prov­ince such as KwaZulu-Na­tal, where sup­port­ers and lead­ers are caught be­tween loy­al­ties to Zuma and to ANC trea­sur­ergen­eral Zweli Mkhize.

Strik­ing a dis­cor­dant note, Zuma at­tended KwaZulu-Na­tal’s PGC, which took place at the Univer­sity of Zu­l­u­land, where he was re­ported to have warned “against the bar­gain­ing of can­di­dates by provinces”.

While the push to add more of­fi­cials to what has tra­di­tion­ally been a top six was ini­tially punted by the pro-Zuma group, there is grow­ing con­sen­sus from all sides to in­crease the num­ber so that can­di­dates from all slates can be ac­com­mo­dated.

Rep­re­sented in a meet­ing of provinces this week were Gaut­eng, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, North­ern Cape, Lim­popo and KwaZulu-Na­tal.

The name of Gaut­eng ANC chair­per­son Paul Mashatile was among those of the can­di­dates put for­ward by Gaut­eng to be in the top lead­er­ship.

Other names thrown in the hat by other pro­vin­cial and re­gional lead­ers who at­tended the meet­ing in­clude ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, Mkhize, for­mer KwaZulu-Na­tal premier Senzo Mchunu, Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza and Hu­man Set­tle­ments Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu.

Ide­ally, an un­con­tested list go­ing to the na­tional elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber would in­clude Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma, who have both been tipped for the top job.

On Friday night, Mashatile said pro­pos­als to change the lead­er­ship struc­ture in­cluded a sec­ond deputy pres­i­dent and two ad­di­tional deputy sec­re­taries-gen­eral.

He said the idea was to strengthen the head of­fice of the ANC so that it truly be­came a strate­gic cen­tre of power.

Mashatile con­firmed that he had been meet­ing some ANC lead­ers in his open­ing ad­dress to the Gaut­eng PGC, say­ing there was al­ready a view in the pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee that he must go up to na­tional level.

But he was quick to tell Man­tashe, who was at the gath­er­ing, that he was not cam­paign­ing.

Mashatile said they had al­ready started dis­cus­sions on lead­er­ship and would share pro­pos­als with struc­tures soon.

City Press has learnt that in Gaut­eng’s case, the in­ten­tion was to push to the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) some of its cur­rent pro­vin­cial lead­ers.

These in­clude Nkenke Kekana, Mondli Gun­gubele, Mandla Nkomfe, Linda Maseko, Bar­bara Creecy, Peter Skosana and Dipuo Mve­lase.

The idea is that Mashatile will hand over his deputy in the prov­ince David Makhura, who will, in turn, have Parks Tau and Le­bo­gang Maile on his side.

Man­tashe also made a call for unity this week, urg­ing ANC mem­bers to speak in one voice.

The sec­re­tary-gen­eral wants the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence to “elect a lead­er­ship that will send a sig­nal that we are se­ri­ous about stop­ping loot­ing from our peo­ple”.

“It is im­por­tant to en­gage with com­rades to in­flu­ence and be in­flu­enced. Let us not strive for win­ner takes all,” he said.

Man­tashe said the ANC was un­der siege from forces, in­clud­ing its al­liance part­ners, who be­lieved that the only solution to the gov­ern­ing party’s woes was to re­move Zuma as pres­i­dent.

He de­scribed as a myth the be­lief, also held by Gaut­eng’s ANC lead­er­ship, that Zuma’s de­par­ture would solve the cri­sis in the ANC. “We must build the move­ment,” he said. “When the move­ment is strong, it will re­build it­self and self-cor­rect. We may not even need to chant: ‘Zuma must go.’ He may see that it is necessary to go him­self.

“Now, be­cause if we are ex­pe­di­ent about it, we may plunge the move­ment into a cri­sis. When we plunge into a cri­sis, we are go­ing to have sat­is­fac­tion in the short term, but it may take longer to pull the pieces to­gether,” added Man­tashe.

ANC head of pol­icy Jeff Radebe con­firmed that var­i­ous struc­tures had made for­mal pro­pos­als re­gard­ing the num­ber of of­fi­cials in the NEC.

“There is an emerg­ing con­sen­sus that we re­quire in the NEC ded­i­cated lead­ers, who must be sta­tioned at head­quar­ters on a full-time ba­sis in or­der to service our mem­bers and re­spond to the cur­rent chal­lenges,” he said.

“At the last count in Mangaung [in the Free State] in 2012, we had a membership of more than 1 mil­lion. We have more than 100-plus mem­bers of the NEC, but four mem­bers who are full time at head of­fice.

“They are the sec­re­tary-gen­eral, his deputy, the trea­surer-gen­eral and the na­tional spokesper­son. “Four NEC mem­bers are not enough to service this huge or­gan­i­sa­tion. That is why it is un­der­stand­able that more branches are call­ing for this change,” Radebe said. EWN re­ported that Zuma said the ANC had de­cided in 1997 that bar­gain­ing by provinces about which can­di­dates would oc­cupy which po­si­tion would end. Mpumalanga chair­per­son DD Mabuza is us­ing the ticket of the only con­sol­i­dated prov­ince as an ace to ne­go­ti­ate with all those in­ter­ested in lead­er­ship.

KwaZulu-Na­tal, which his­tor­i­cally has been the big­gest and most united del­e­ga­tion, will head to con­fer­ence bit­terly di­vided. The prov­ince is torn be­tween cur­rent pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee chair Sihle Zikalala, and ousted premier Mchunu and for­mer eThek­weni mayor James Nx­u­malo. It is un­der­stood that the for­mer group is back­ing Dlamini-Zuma and the lat­ter group, along with al­liance part­ners in the prov­ince, will throw their weight behind Ramaphosa.

KwaZulu-Na­tal’s PGC was also at­tended by Dlamini-Zuma and Mkhize.

The ANC pro­vin­cial youth and women’s leagues re­it­er­ated their sup­port for DlaminiZuma at the meet­ing.

In North West, pro­vin­cial chair Supra Mahumapelo told del­e­gates that he also wanted the top six of­fi­cials in­creased to nine.

Mean­while, sup­port­ers of Ramaphosa strength­ened his hand when they won the fiercely con­tested Vhembe re­gion in Lim­popo on Friday.

FRON­TRUN­NER #2 Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa

FRON­TRUN­NER #1 Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Gwede Man­tashe

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