Tags: safrica | zuma | anc | leadership | race

SAfrica’s Zuma May Face Fight as ANC Opens Leadership Race

Monday, 01 Oct 2012 05:54 AM

JOHANNESBURG South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) opened its nominations for a leadership vote in December that may see President Jacob Zuma challenged by his deputy.

“Nominations are now open” until Nov. 26, ANC Secretary- General Gwede Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg on Sept. 28. “Branches of the ANC must now talk names.”

The 100-year-old ANC said it limited the time for nominations because discussions about the leadership were proving divisive. The rebel former leader of the party’s youth wing, Julius Malema, has called Zuma, 70, a “dictator” and swung his support behind Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

At the last conference in 2007, the ANC endured a contentious leadership battle that saw Zuma, then backed by Malema, 31, and the ANC youth wing, oust former President Thabo Mbeki. With its almost two-thirds majority in parliament, the ANC can ensure the party leader becomes the president of Africa’s biggest economy.

The ANC in Malema’s northern Limpopo home province on Sept. 18 issued a statement pledging support for Motlanthe, 63, as party leader. It retracted the statement within hours, saying party provincial spokesman Makonde Mathivha had e-mailed it without authorization.

The ruling party’s 1.2 million members are spread across 3,687 branches, Mantashe said. Membership in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal swelled to 331,820 from 244,900 in January, he said. The Eastern Cape province now has 187,585 members, down from 225,597 in January.

Cosatu Influence

The ANC’s labor ally, the 2.2-million member Congress of South African Trade Unions, decided at its Sept. 17-20 national congress not to debate whether to back Zuma again. Some delegates sang pro-Zuma songs and others made hand signals use in soccer matches to indicate a player substitution.

Cosatu’s influence among South Africa’s workers has been challenged by a series of illegal strikes it didn’t support that have shut mines owned by Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Lonmin Plc and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.

After police killed 34 striking miners at Lonmin’s Marikana mine on Aug. 16, Malema described the government as a “pig that is eating its own children.”

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, a former ANC Youth League leader, criticized party restrictions on raising the leadership issue.

‘Taboo’ Talk

“The people who are creating a problem are those who come to you and tell you that to elect a leader is a taboo,” Mbalula, who the Youth League is touting as the party’s next secretary-general, said in comments broadcast on Johannesburg- based SAFM on Sept. 26. “You must never do that. Speak about your choices politically when you want change if you want it. And nobody must make you to be fearful.”

Only an ANC grouping from any of South Africa’s nine provinces can nominate a leadership candidate before the conference, according to the party constitution. Additional names will be accepted during the conference if they have the backing from a quarter of the delegates, it says.

Ninety percent of the voting delegates are elected by branches across the country of 50 million, according to the constitution. The rest are allocated by the provincial executive committees, the Youth League, the Women’s League and the Veteran’s League.

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South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) opened its nominations for a leadership vote in December that may see President Jacob Zuma challenged by his deputy.
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Monday, 01 Oct 2012 05:54 AM
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