Zuma can’t change tra­di­tions willy-nilly

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Dr Thabisi Hoeane

PRES­I­DENT Ja­cob Zuma is right. There is no of­fi­cial pol­icy that notes that the vice-pres­i­dent of the party has to suc­ceed the pres­i­dent. But what he is not say­ing is that there is a con­ven­tion – a well ac­cepted prac­tice within the party that has been ce­mented in post-1994 South Africa.

Iron­i­cally, one of the ma­jor rea­sons for his as­cent to power was the ap­peal to this sen­ti­ment that Thabo Mbeki could not side­line him and deny him the pres­i­dency. Thus the ques­tion is why all of a sud­den Zuma and his al­lies want to deny this patent fact?

The an­swer is sim­ple. Con­trary to all the as­ser­tions that we are hear­ing from the ANC that the “nom­i­na­tions” for the pres­i­dency are not yet open the cat is out of the bag: in­tense lob­by­ing is al­ready go­ing on be­tween the sup­port­ers of Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and noth­ing that the ANC says will stop this.

This fact is un­der­lined by the state­ment Zuma made re­cently that the party is ready for a woman pres­i­dent which was of course a veiled call to rally sup­port for his ex-wife. In­deed tellingly, both – Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa – have re­mained mum about all of this lob­by­ing around their names show­ing that they are in agree­ment with what is go­ing on.

This then brings to the fore why the ANC wants to cling to the an­ti­quated view – that is clearly not re­al­ity – that no lob­by­ing is al­lowed in the ANC and it is the branches that nom­i­nate lead­ers.

The pub­lic knows very well that this is just diplo­matic talk. Right be­fore Polok­wane it was an open se­cret that the Zuma and Mbeki camps were rig­or­ously pitch­ing their can­di­dates. Kgalema Mot­lanthe, in all naivety in the lead up to the Man­gaung con­fer­ence, thought that he could ap­peal to del­e­gates at the con­fer­ence and he dis­mally failed.

Which raises a very in­ter­est­ing ob­ser­va­tion that ANC elec­tive con­fer­ences are not de­cided at the oc­ca­sion. They are de­cided in the lead up to such events. There­fore, the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence is just go­ing to be a mere for­mal­ity.

In this re­gard, the ANC must just jet­ti­son this pre­tence. It is true dur­ing the Strug­gle against apartheid there was no time to be in­volved in power con­tes­ta­tions as there was a big­ger en­emy out there to con­front and all en­ergy had to be fo­cused on this.

But times have changed. Any­body who wants to lead the ANC and con­se­quently the coun­try must come out into the open and be scru­ti­nised by the whole of so­ci­ety. Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma not only owe this to card-car­ry­ing mem­bers of the ANC, but the whole coun­try be­cause ul­ti­mately they want to lead it.

Thus they must tell us why they are fit to do so – and not do it in the dark and only ap­praise branch mem­bers of the ANC of their in­ten­tions. Eques­tria, Pre­to­ria East

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and then-deputy pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe bid­ding farewell to Nkosazana DlaminiZuma dur­ing the de­bate to con­grat­u­late her on be­ing elected chair­woman of the AU Com­mis­sion held in Par­lia­ment in 2012.

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