ZUMA BACKS UNITY
‘Power-sharing a practical proposal’
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has thrown his weight behind a proposed power-sharing deal between Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa.
But his supporters are divided on the matter. At the ANC national policy conference in Nasrec, Soweto, KZN chairperson Sihle Zikalala proposed a compromise deal that would see either of the two presidential candidates becoming deputy president if he or she loses to the other in the race for the top spot.
This, Zikalala believes, would prevent a bloodbath and a possible split after the party’s elective conference in December. The Star has reliably learnt that, in one of the closed commissions, Zuma expressed support for the arrangement, as the basis for trying to mend the fissures within the party that arise out of contestation.
“In our commission, it was only Zikalala and Zuma who articulated it. Other people just ignored it. It’s a new proposal, which we obviously need to consult widely on,” said a source, who asked to remain anonymous.
Another source confirmed Zuma’s support for the proposed arrangement. “He (Zuma) said people don’t sleep these days, spending sleepless nights lobbying… He even said it would be good if it (the proposal) could be replicated at lower levels.”
However, some of the influential Zuma supporters don’t agree with the mooted arrangement.
ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Collen Maine said he felt the move would not pass the test of the ANC constitution, which allows for every position in the top six to be contested.
“It means that if there are 10 candidates, and the other one gets 12 votes and others each get seven votes, are we going to have all of them as deputy presidents?” Maine asked.
The ANCYL secretary in KwaZuluNatal, Thanduxolo Sabelo, said they stood by their view that Mpumalanga Premier and ANC provincial chairperson, David Mabuza, should be the next deputy president.
He said uniting the ANC should not be based on who gets elected to certain positions. “If you are not elected in the ANC, the culture of the ANC says you must then be able to support the leadership that has been elected.
“Unity of the party must be the unity of purpose. You cannot be united by positions. We must be united by programmes, which we are here to discuss today,” he said.
However, eThekwini region secretary Bheki Ntuli said the ANC’s biggest region was fully behind the proposal. “The situation whereby we have our own top six and others have their own top six leads to breakaways after conferences. We should have a system that would allow the loser to be accommodated as the deputy president and the deputy secretary-general,” said Ntuli.
Mdumiseni Ntuli, ANC chairperson in KZN, said the proposals were meant to destroy slate politics. He agreed it would mean changing the way voting happens.
A delegate said some viewed the proposal as a sign that KZN “is panicking and now they just want to secure NDZ’s (Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s) future”.
A member of the KZN provincial executive committee said the province had realised that, while it was powerful, it could not afford to be arrogant or overstate its influence.
“Even when the small provinces come to us with proposals, we will engage with them and adopt those positions if it makes sense,” another source added.
ANC Northern Cape chairperson Zamani Saul also slammed the KZN proposal, asserting that the province was trying to achieve “leadership through arrangement”. He added that his province still backs Ramaphosa “because it is a matter of principle” as, since 1956, “all presidents of the ANC had been deputy presidents before”.
Eastern Cape secretary Oscar Mabuyane said he backed the proposal as “a practical proposal when we are confronted with slates”.
THEY might not still be around, but the spirit of the late ANC leaders like Nelson Mandela, Fatima Meer and Oliver Tambo are visible around the party’s policy conference in Nasrec.
Statues of iconic leaders have been placed at the venue, and yesterday, President Jacob Zuma walked through the exhibition to admire them and show respect.
The statues are the brainchild of Tambo’s son Dali Tambo and are usually exhibited at the Groenkloof National Heritage Monument.
On day four of the conference, Zuma said one of the important issues they were wrestling with was the implementation of policies once the conference was over.
“There is a very strong focus on that because we realise that on the implementation side there are some hitches and we are trying to solve those issues,” Zuma said after walking through the exhibition centre and interacting with business people.
He said the conference was “going absolutely very well” and that he believed the party would be able to rise above its current challenges.
Zuma, who was flanked by ANC treasurer-general Dr Zweli Mkhize, praised the veterans for their contribution. He said: “The level of debate has gone up, especially when you listen to the stalwarts and the youth in particular. The fact that this time we had more days is an opportunity to have more debate so there is time to clarify all the things that need to be clarified.”
His comments came as a surprise following Zuma’s opening address on Friday, when he launched a scathing attack on the veterans. During the speech he accused the stalwarts of not respecting party branches and procedures. This was apparently because the veterans refused to be part of the two days set aside for a consultative conference; they said it was too short a time.
Zuma yesterday praised delegates for coming out in their numbers and giving positive input. “The recommendations therefore for the national conference in December will take us very far.”
AMANDLA!: ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa emulates a statue of Nelson Mandela during the fourth day of the ANC’s national policy conference held at Nasrec, Soweto.
BREAK: Members of the ANC sitting outside the main conference hall.