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Divisions over ANC leadership race deepen

ANC flag at the party's national policy conference. (News24)


Johannesburg – Divisions in the ANC leadership contest over how to manage the succession battle for the positions of president and deputy president have deepened.
This has emerged on the sidelines of the ANC’s national policy conference underway in Nasrec, where delegates are lobbying each other ahead of the hotly-contested December elective conference.
The ANC Youth League and the Northern Cape ANC have rejected KwaZulu-Natal’s proposal for the loser of the presidential race to automatically become deputy president.
The party’s biggest province made the proposal in an attempt to end slate politics that have fractured the party, leading to splinter groups.
"We must not go for slate politics, we must accommodate each other, if there is a strong view that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa must be president, let them contest each other, but the loser becomes deputy president, minimising a situation where we have victors and vanquished," ANC KwaZulu-Natal leader Sihle Zikalala said.
Everyone must be accommodated, so that we don’t have people leaving the conference bitter, he said.
The Northern Cape has labelled the proposal "excitement" over succession talks. The National Executive Committee delegated provincial chairpersons and secretaries to start talks on the leadership battle, in an attempt to minimise fallouts after the conference.
ANC Northern Cape chairperson Zamani Saul said the proposal takes away the powers of the branches to decide who should lead the party, and leaders are appropriating the right to choose ANC leadership.
But the proposal has been rejected by both the Northern Cape and ANCYL in KwaZulu-Natal and nationally.
"We can’t come up with such a proposal, putting up leadership by arrangement. ANC branches will nominate who they want and go to conference to elect; you will be eroding the very essence of democratic contestation of ANC leadership," Saul said.
Remove the 'kingmaker syndrome'
The ANCYL said the political arrangement would reduce the ANC to a "chieftainship" and would be a violation of the party’s constitution that says every position must be contested, ANCYL president Collen Maine told News24.
"So it’s not going to be automatic, this means if there are four candidates losing should they then all four be deputy presidents?
"As it stands, we’ve got our top seven and we stand by that because nobody has persuaded us otherwise thus far," Maine said.
The ANCYL has nominated Dlamini-Zuma for president, with Mpumalanga chairperson David Mabuza as deputy.
But the KZN proposal received support from the Eastern Cape, the second largest ANC province. Provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane said it would remove the "kingmaker syndrome" and factionalism.
Mabuyane said the economic transformation commission had already begun debating the proposal.
"I once raised the issue myself in one of the NEC meetings, saying when we grew up in the ANC structures, at some point you had that system. When two people are contesting each other, the one who loses becomes a deputy."
He said that the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal had perfected the system and the idea was not "far-fetched".
"We are really trying to come up with practical solutions to deal directly with issues of slates. As long as ANC is unable to deal with slates, the ANC will continue being plunged into crisis after crisis… We are all busy looking for a permanent panacea to the organisational challenge that we have."
Mabuyane added that he did not see any issues with the proposal, as the two presidential hopefuls Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa had worked together in the past.
'ANC a voluntary organisation'
"We want to have a collective leadership of the ANC. These people have worked together for a very [long] period."
We should not allow for people to have proxy battles around the leadership of the ANC, he said.
"The leadership of the ANC are not representatives of certain individuals. The national leadership has a responsibility to oversee the entire organisation. As long as people are nominated at that level that simply tells that they are competent to lead the ANC, so it’s not a bad idea."
But the ANCYL in KwaZulu-Natal said unity cannot be built through positions, but should be by policy proposals adopted at the conference.
"ANC is a voluntary organisation; everyone is a volunteer here, you are not entitled to be a president or deputy president," provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo said.
He said they are yet to be persuaded to change their leadership preferences.
The ANCYL’s other preferred leaders are Free State Premier Ace Magashule as the secretary general, Jessie Duarte as the first deputy secretary general, Fikile Mbalula as the second deputy secretary general, Nathi Mthethwa as the chairperson and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane as the treasurer general.
Free State Provincial Executive Committee treasurer Mosebenzi Zwane said he was confident that the candidate his province announces will become president.
The province is yet to announce its preferred leadership to succeed President Jacob Zuma, but they are widely expected to back Dlamini-Zuma.
"If you ask me this question in September, I will be able to properly respond. What I know is that ANC is dynamic, it will find a way in that dynamism. We will also allow branches to speak. Once we have spoken, the candidate will be president," he said confidently.

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