The Star Late Edition

Zuma, Mbeki to speak at Mangaung dinner

But no slot for Malema as ANC hosts heads of state and top party members

- MICHELLE PIETERSEN

WHILE President Jacob Zuma will lead the ANC comrades into their centenary celebratio­ns in Mangaung at the weekend, former president Thabo Mbeki was likely to make an address too. But Zuma’s other political foe, loudmouth ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, will not be given a slot, says ANC spokesman Keith Khoza.

“It’s an ANC celebratio­n, an ANC day (January 8), so no, only the president (Zuma) will speak,” said Khoza. The ANC youth league did not form part of the official programme, said Khoza.

He said Mbeki was likely to make an address on Friday evening at the gala dinner which takes place at the Vista Campus of the University of the Free State.

Just over 1 000 guests will attend the lavish dinner, among them heads of state, businesspe­ople, party bigwigs and members of the ANC’S alliance partners. Khoza said ANC national executive committee members had been deployed to various regions to mobilise the masses.

Around 100 000 people were expected to descend on the grounds of the university on Saturday, where Zuma will deliver the party’s statement on Sunday.

It will outline the party’s political trajectory for the next 12 months. This is an important year for the ANC. Not only is it its centenary, but in June the party goes to its policy conference which will be followed in December by its national general congress at which it will return to its place of birth to elect the new leadership of the ANC.

While the succession debate has yet to be deemed open, the focus, especially after this weekend’s celebratio­ns, will completely shift to the outcome of the all-powerful congress at the end of the year. This is to the disdain of some in the party, mostly the faction including Malema, who are trying to counter the incumbent’s attempts to secure

another term. The ANC would undoubtedl­y like all eyes to be fixed on the accomplish­ments of the movement over its century-long life this coming weekend.

However, with Zuma as the face of the movement in present day politics, it’s more likely that what will draw more attention is the tension between the president and the former president; and the president and the youth league president.

Mbeki recently emerged from the political wilderness after Willem Heath, who Zuma

No other movement has lasted this long

appointed to the head of the Special Investigat­ions Unit, made damning allegation­s against Mbeki in a press interview early last month.

The former president then demanded that Zuma provide “proof ” by Christmas Eve of the “defamatory” and “malicious” claims against him.

Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj yesterday refused to confirm if this had been done or not.

Malema has made no secret of his desire to oust the man he helped to the throne of the ANC. He and Zuma have not seen eye to eye for some time, with Zuma and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe having led a charge against the young lion.

Malema has since appealed against a decision by the ANC’S national disciplina­ry committee to suspend him from the mother body for five years.

The party moves into its next phase as a deeply divided and wounded organisati­on as a result of bitter infighting, destructiv­e power struggles and devious political wheeling and dealing.

But Khoza is adamant that the ANC will live to see another 100 years. “This is a historical celebratio­n. The ANC is the first liberation movement in SA – and on the continent – to celebrate 100 years, no other movement has lasted this long. We are the oldest surviving liberation movement.

“This means the decision to build a better SA has remained alive for 100 years. We will live to see another 100.”

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