High noon at ANC race

This week’s lek­gotla is set be over­shad­owed by bit­ter fac­tional bat­tles as sup­port for ri­val pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates reaches boil­ing point

CityPress - - Front Page - SETUMO STONE, HLENGIWE NHLABATHI and S’THEM­BILE CELE politics@city­press.co.za

Ten­sion is likely to run high this week when the ANC’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) meets for its midyear lek­gotla. The an­nual sum­mit, held to as­sess the party’s per­for­mance at var­i­ous lev­els of gov­ern­ment and deal with in­ter­nal dy­nam­ics, is be­ing over­shad­owed by the deep rifts re­sult­ing from an in­creas­ingly bit­ter suc­ces­sion race. This will be the first time the ANC’s top lead­er­ship meets since the June pol­icy con­fer­ence, where the two dom­i­nant camps sized each other up ahead of the of­fi­cial start of the count­down to the De­cem­ber elec­tive con­fer­ence.

The gath­er­ing will be ex­tended to se­lected na­tional, pro­vin­cial and mu­nic­i­pal pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives who are not NEC mem­bers.

Go­ing into this sum­mit, the ANC’s lead­er­ship will be con­fronted with threats of dis­band­ment of struc­tures, the leak­ing of “se­cret files” on how their op­po­nents’ cam­paigns were be­ing funded and dodgy busi­ness deals.

BAT­TLE OF THE CAPES

A lead­er­ship fac­tion aligned to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and his pre­ferred suc­ces­sor, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is push­ing for the dis­band­ment of the North­ern Cape and Western Cape pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive coun­cils (PEC). Both struc­tures are aligned to Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, who is go­ing head to head with Dlamini-Zuma in the suc­ces­sion race.

The Zuma camp ar­gues that the Western Cape PEC is dys­func­tional and that the cred­i­bil­ity of the con­fer­ence that elected the North­ern Cape struc­ture is in ques­tion.

In turn, Ramaphosa’s sup­port­ers say the same logic should then ap­ply to KwaZulu-Na­tal, where the le­git­i­macy of the PEC, who back Dlamini-Zuma, is also be­ing ques­tioned by the group which lost out at the De­cem­ber 2015 pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence.

Last week­end, Zuma ini­ti­ated and led a high-level ANC del­e­ga­tion to Kim­ber­ley in the North­ern Cape, where branches aligned to Dlamini-Zuma were ac­corded a full day to make a case for the dis­band­ment of the Ramaphosa-friendly pro­vin­cial ANC ex­ec­u­tive.

City Press heard that the North­ern Cape in­ter­ven­tion was spear­headed by Zuma af­ter “a group of peo­ple ap­proached him di­rectly to com­plain, with a view to cre­at­ing a cloud over the elected lead­er­ship”.

Peo­ple who were part of the meet­ing also told City Press that: “On the ba­sis of what he had been told, Zuma then re­quested that the of­fi­cials come and lis­ten to those com­rades.” Zuma al­lies are push­ing hard for a re­run of the con­fer­ence. Even though it will be send­ing the small­est del­e­ga­tion to the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence, the North­ern Cape will be the main bat­tle­ground next month, show­ing that every vote counts.

Zuma is sched­uled to lead the Au­gust 9 Women’s Day cel­e­bra­tions in Galeshewe in Kim­ber­ley, where he is likely to em­pha­sise the im­por­tance of fe­male lead­er­ship.

City Press un­der­stands that a coun­ter­plan is be­ing hatched by the Ramaphosa group to se­cure his re­turn for an­other event in the prov­ince shortly there­after. Ramaphosa was the key­note speaker at the pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence in May. Dlamini-Zuma’s sup­port­ers are con­fi­dent that they will suc­ceed in get­ting the Western Cape PEC dis­banded, es­pe­cially af­ter that PEC dis­solved the pro-Dlamini-Zuma Dul­lah Omar re­gion, which cov­ers the Cape Town metro.

Just like its neigh­bour, the Western Cape was vis­ited by a Zuma-led del­e­ga­tion last week­end, but this time the top six of­fi­cials were ac­com­pa­nied by mem­bers of the party’s pow­er­ful na­tional working com­mit­tee (NWC).

“We have given our branches a full man­date to move for the dis­so­lu­tion of the Western Cape struc­ture,” said an NEC mem­ber who is a se­nior lob­by­ist in the Dlamini-Zuma camp. “We are push­ing for the dis­band­ment of the ex­ec­u­tive and have mo­bilised our branches to present that one mes­sage.” The leader said the feedback was that the Dul­lah Omar branches had “made a strong case” to the NWC, which is dom­i­nated by Zuma loy­al­ists. How­ever, a pro-Ramaphosa NEC mem­ber warned that a willy-nilly dis­so­lu­tion of pro­vin­cial struc­tures could spark a cri­sis and force the post­pone­ment of the De­cem­ber na­tional con­fer­ence.

Call­ing the in­ter­ven­tion “not hon­est”, es­pe­cially since the Western Cape was due to hold its pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence in a few months’ time any­way, he said: “It will be disin­gen­u­ous to deny that there were prob­lems in the Western Cape, be­cause the pro­vin­cial lead­er­ship is also deeply di­vided. But the ques­tion is: How do you dis­solve a struc­ture four months be­fore con­fer­ence?

“It will look like you are try­ing to ma­nip­u­late the num­bers.” The in­sider added that while the Western Cape PEC was be­ing tar­geted for dis­solv­ing the Dul­lah Omar re­gion, noth­ing was be­ing done about the North West PEC, which had dis­banded three re­gions.

He said some mem­bers of the NWC “have been clear that they are go­ing to dis­solve the prov­ince and they do not hide it. But we will be wait­ing for them when it gets to the NEC.”

WHITHER KZN?

An­other pro-Ramaphosa lob­by­ist said if the Cape prov­inces were touched, they would push for sim­i­lar ac­tion in KwaZu­luNatal. “So, it is a case of: ‘If you pull that [stunt], I will re­tal­i­ate with some­thing else’. They are ready for com­bat ... KwaZu­luNatal is even worse be­cause there are po­lit­i­cal as­sas­si­na­tions.”

The source added that Ramaphosa’s al­lies, such as for­mer ANC Youth League secretary-gen­eral Sindiso Ma­gaqa – who re­cently sur­vived gun­shots – were be­ing tar­geted.

Ma­gaqa’s branch was also dis­solved by the Dlamini-Zuma group, City Press heard.

The ANC lek­gotla will also be mind­ful of the court case chal­leng­ing the le­git­i­macy of the KwaZulu-Na­tal PEC, which is sched­uled to be heard in mid-Au­gust.

The court could con­ceiv­ably re­in­state the pre-2015 status. This would place Ramaphosa ally and for­mer KwaZulu-Na­tal pre­mier Senzo Mchunu in charge of the na­tional con­fer­ence, un­less a new pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence was or­gan­ised be­fore then.

“Senzo al­ready showed his might at pol­icy con­fer­ence. He com­man­deered at least half of the del­e­gates,” said the Ramaphosa lob­by­ist.

Un­set­tling the Dlamini-Zuma camp is Ramaphosa’s planned visit to sought-af­ter Mpumalanga. Both sides claim to en­joy the sup­port of Pre­mier David Mabuza, who is also pro­vin­cial chair. He is aim­ing for the deputy pres­i­dency and is the only chair­per­son who will be lead­ing a united del­e­ga­tion to the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence.

It is ex­pected that Ramaphosa will use that oc­ca­sion to in­di­cate that Mabuza will be ac­com­mo­dated some­where at the top of his slate.

“It has been agreed with [Mabuza] that [Ramaphosa] will be given a plat­form to ad­dress ANC mem­bers in that prov­ince. It is at that gath­er­ing where he is ex­pected to then come out to say Mpumalanga must de­liver one of their own,” said the source.

How­ever, Mabuza’s cam­paign has been mud­died by al­leged threats of “a crim­i­nal ar­rest if he does not toe the line”.

City Press heard that the threat had been made as a pun­ish­ment for de­fy­ing Zuma. But Zuma’s loy­al­ists have dis­missed it as a pro­pa­ganda cam­paign in­tended to dis­credit him.

LET’S ALSO DISBAND LIM­POPO

In Lim­popo, a clean-up by the Dlamini-Zuma group is rop­ing in new heavy­weights to bol­ster a cam­paign that has been los­ing ground to Ramaphosa, who has been en­dorsed by three re­gions. For­mer youth league leader Lehl­o­gonolo Ma­soga and for­mer pre­mier Cas­sel Mathale have been men­tioned among those who will drive the fal­ter­ing cam­paign.

There are also moves to disband the Lim­popo PEC, with a view “to re­vers­ing the re­gional con­fer­ences that favoured Ramaphosa”. At least four ANC NWC mem­bers were ex­pected to cham­pion this move.

“The NWC is be­ing pushed,” said an in­sider.

MAGASHULE’S MBALULA BO­GEY

For Pre­mier Ace Magashule in the Free State, the up­com­ing pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence is an all or noth­ing af­fair as he faces a chal­lenge from his num­ber two in the ANC, Thabo Many­oni.

Magashule has to win if his am­bi­tions for the ANC top six are to re­main alive. He is be­ing pushed by some Dlamini-Zuma back­ers to take over from Gwede Man­tashe as secretary-gen­eral.

Magashule is fac­ing pres­sure from a man who has pub­licly de­clared his dis­dain for him and his lead­er­ship abil­i­ties. Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula, who has some in­flu­ence in the Free State, is said to be back­ing the Many­oni camp. A Many­oni vic­tory could see Mbalula emerge as the prov­ince’s pre­ferred can­di­date for the secretary-gen­eral post – leav­ing Magashule out in the cold.

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