October 30, 2007

ANC branches moot 'third way' option

African National Congress (ANC) branches have raised the possibility of a "third way" in a party presidential succession race dominated by President Thabo Mbeki and party deputy president Jacob Zuma, with other names being thrown into the hat. ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe, businessman Cyril Ramaphosa and Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma have been nominated for the top job, to be decided at the party's elective conference in December. The Motherwell branch in Port Elizabeth has nominated Motlanthe while branches in Soweto and King William's Town, Eastern Cape, have nominated Dlamini-Zuma. A Ramaphosa presidency has been suggested by a branch in Johannesburg's northern suburbs and another in Cape Town. Meanwhile, Ramaphosa for the first time did not deny he would stand for the position if nominated. This is in sharp contrast to his previous categoric statements that he was not interested in the job.
But analysts said it was still too early to start reading much into the latest developments. Steven Friedman, a senior research associate at policy think-tank Idasa, warned that although Motlanthe's, Ramaphosa's and Dlamini-Zuma's names had been thrown into the hat, they might not make the grade.
"My understanding of the ANC's constitution is that in order for a presidential candidate's name to make the ballot paper, they have to have the support of two provinces. One or two branch nominations will not be enough, but at least it injects new life into the succession debate," Friedman said.
The ANC's 2700 branches must put forward nominations for the top six positions to regional structures, which draw up provincial lists for submission to the ANC electoral commission before November 26. While provincial structures can nominate candidates for the top posts, branches will hold 90% of the vote at the elective conference. "Only when the majority of branches make their decision on who they want for ANC president will we have an indication of who is leading the race, but anything could happen at the conference," said Friedman.
Lobbyists for Mbeki and Zuma have expressed confidence that their man would win. In a boost for the Mbeki campaign, the president has secured a nomination in KwaZulu-Natal, a Zuma stronghold. The branch at Groutville near KwaDukuza named Mbeki as its candidate.
Meanwhile, businessman Tokyo Sexwale, who has been on a rapid presidential campaign trail, has evidently not received any formal support so far. Two weeks before the December 15 national conference in Polokwane, the party's electoral commission made up of party veterans will officially announce the names of successful nominees for executive posts. (Business Day, Johannesburg)


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