Aug 17, 2012
Lead-up to Mangaung exciting South Africa’s popular imaginationBack
Mangaung|South Africa|Jacob Zuma|Julius Malema|Kgalema Motlanthe|Thabo Masebe|Tokyo Sexwale
© Reuse this
Ordinarily, the internal leadership battles of a political party, even those of a ruling party, should not excite the popular imagination in the manner that the ANC’s presidential race has. If South Africa had a competitive party system, the excitement would not be limited to what happens inside a single politi- cal party. Because ours is an uncompetitive party system in which the gap in electoral support between the ANC and the rest remains wide, the outcome of the Mangaung conference of the ANC will, besides other things, deliver the next President of the country. In short, the person who will be elected ANC president in December will, without a shadow of doubt, be elected head of State when South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy in 2014.
Who, then, will lead South Africa into its third decade of democracy? Is it going to be the incumbent, Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe or Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale? Who are the individuals and political forces that are going to determine the direction of the leadership battle? What is the nature of the resources that will be required? And do policy issues matter?
To begin with, there is this thing called the slate. In fact, in the leadership race, each ANC faction enters the field of battle armed with its own slate. For the uninitiated, a slate is simply a list of the individuals a faction believes should be elected to key positions. Since the slates are not the same, three things will happen. First, lobbying in support of preferred candidates will take place. Second, there will be some horse trading. Third, some dirty fighting will occur.
However, the thing to remember is that, despite the decision of the ruling party’s national executive committee to bar ANC members from engaging in succession talk until October, there has been a lot of unofficial lobbying and lobbying disguised as official ANC and government business. Some have used their positions in government to use official functions as an opportunity to lobby for support. Others have resorted to giving lectures in the name of ANC icons to disguise their true intentions. For instance, extolling the leadership virtues of an ANC icon has become a way of creating an ‘other’ in contradistinction to such an icon to highlight or invent the leadership weaknesses of an opponent. Over and above all these shenanigans, two things have happened: there is a perception that it is only those who support Zuma who have been able to campaign without fear and policy and other debates have, to some extent, become proxies for the expression of narrow leadership and political preferences.
With four months to go, who are the frontrunners?
The leadership race will probably turn into a three-horse race that will wind down to a two-horse race. The people worth mentioning in this regard are Zuma, Motlanthe and Sexwale. Motlanthe has been characteris- tically reticent about whether he is going to throw his hat into the ring. The closest we have got to an indication that he will run are two statements from his spokesperson, Thabo Masebe. During a radio interview, Masebe argued that no one was entitled to a position in the ANC and then clarified that when one enters a leadership race in accordance with the wishes of ANC members, such a person is challenging no one.
According to my decoder, what he meant is that Zuma is not entitled to the position of ANC president and ANC members are free to nominate anyone for that position. Masebe also intimated that Motlanthe would serve in any capacity in accordance with the wishes of ANC branches. Signals from my decoder suggest that it is reasonable to think of Motlanthe as a presidential candidate. But Motlanthe has three problems. Some of his supporters do not believe he has the stomach for what may be a dirty presidential campaign. In addition, former Youth League president Julius Malema and Sexwale may become a headache for his strategists. Motlanthe needs to manage the perception that Malema will be reinstated as a member of the ANC and Youth League president if Zuma is unseated.
There is always the possibility that even some of the opponents of the President may vote for his re-election if the alterna- tive is the reinstatement of Malema. Given some of the errors Sexwale has been making and the fact that some slates have him in the position of Motlanthe’s deputy, Motlanthe must decide whether it is having him too close or at a distance that will work against his ambitions.
Tune in next month for the next instalment of the succession story.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other Aubrey Matshiqi News
Article contains comments
Recent Research Reports
Automotive 2014: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
The report provides insight into the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local construction demand, geographic diversification, competition within the sector, corporate activity, skills, safety, environmental considerations and the challenges...
Construction 2014: A review of South Africa's construction sector (PDF Report)
Construction data released during 2013 hints at a halt to the decline in the industry during the last few years, with some commentators averring that the industry could be poised for recovery. However, others have urged caution, noting that the prospects for a...
Electricity 2014: A Review of South Africa's Electricity Sector (PDF Report)
This report provides an overview of the state of electricity generation and transmission in South Africa and examines electricity planning, investment in generation capacity, electricity tariffs, the role of independent power producers and demand-focused initiatives,...
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
Road and Rail 2013: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2013 Report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Liquid Fuels 2013 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Liquid Fuels report examines South Africa’s liquid fuels market, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing,...
This Week's Magazine
A structured approach, wherein managers personally engage at each level of the project, is necessary to mitigate delays to the workflow on mega construction projects, says State-owned Eskom Kusile power station projects GM Abram Masango. The 4 800 MW Kusile power...
Construction of transmission lines to evacuate power from a regional hydroelectric project in East Africa, which was hanging on the balance following the withdrawal of financing by key partners, is now back on track. After six months of uncertainty, the African...
Three Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between South African and Malaysian companies at the Malaysian High Commission in Pretoria on Friday. These MoUs are part of the indirect offsets programme South Africa is providing in return for Malaysia’s...
The South African new vehicle market may well dip to 640 000 units in 2014, says Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) sales and marketing senior VP Calvyn Hamman. This is the first prediction that anticipates a drop in the market. To date economists and industry bodies...
Nissan will re-enter the South African minibus taxi industry in March, when the new NV350 Impendulo goes on sale. The 16-seater has been specifically tailored to meet the terms of government’s Taxi Recapitalisation Programme, which aims to replace South Africa’s...