|February 1, 2005
ANC Youth to campaign for Zuma
The African National Congress (ANC) Youth League has vowed to lobby support from branches and regional structures of the ruling party for Jacob Zuma to succeed President Thabo Mbeki as leader. The league's unwavering support for Zuma despite the damage arising from the trial of his financial adviser Schabir Shaik disproves the view that the there is not yet a debate within the political party about post- Mbeki leadership. It was through the endorsement of the then-influential league that Mbeki assumed the party presidency without opposition. According to the youth league’s president Fikile Mbalula Zuma is believed to be "a natural successor according to party tradition. Those (other candidates) with uncontrollable desire for power should patiently wait in line. It is Zuma's chance and their turn will come.”
Political analyst Dumisane Hlophe said the league had been kingmakers within the ANC since the party engaged in an armed struggle. However, in the last few years, the tradition of the league being a catalyst of ANC programmes and leadership "has weakened considerably". This was an attempt to re-establish the league's influence in the party, he said.
Other hopefuls cast as possible contenders in the ANC presidential race ahead of the party's conference in 2007 include Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, former secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa, Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni, Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe. Candidates for the post are likely to be debated at the party's general council in June.
ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama said that while the party had no problem with the youth league's choice, it believed the league should have vigorously debated the matter within party structures instead of going public. "It is premature to assume about the fate of their candidate. In the end, it is a democratic process of and a collective decision of all ANC structures that will determine the party's choice for a leader," Ngonyama said.
The youth league also defended its members who have received business opportunities in various black economic empowerment deals. It said those who were objecting and complaining about the alleged abuse of political connectivity, wanted to exclude people by virtue of their political affiliation. "Our members have every right to participate in any form of economic activity and the youth league equally has a right to raise funds from any business individual willing to donate as well as investing in the portfolio of our choice in the same way trade unions and civil society do," Mbalula said.
(Business Day, Johannesburg)