Monday, November 26, 2007

Jacob Zuma is Leading in the Race to Become the Next Leader of the African National Congress


Zuma takes the lead

Mariette le Roux
Mon, 26 Nov 2007

Axed deputy president Jacob Zuma narrowly overtook head of state Thabo Mbeki on Sunday in the nominations race for leadership of the ruling ANC, as the two now clearly head for a showdown.

The KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces nominated Zuma as their candidate late on Sunday, giving him the support of five of the African National Congress' nine provincial branches.

E Cape backs Mbeki

Mbeki had an early lead when the Eastern Cape, the province taking the largest group of voters to a party elective conference next month, backed him to stay on for a third term as party leader.

He had also received the backing of the North West, Western Cape and the third largest province of Limpopo, SABC public radio reported.

The four provinces have 1805 of the 4000-odd voting delegates due to attend the conference in the northern town of Polokwane next month.

But KwaZulu-Natal, the second biggest voting bloc with 608 ballots, Gauteng, the Free State, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape all opted for Zuma, who Mbeki fired as deputy head of state over graft allegations in 2005.

Zuma's five provinces represent 1870 votes.

The women's league vote

The ANC Youth League, which will have 68 voting delegates, has nominated Zuma, while the women's league, also with 68, has yet to make its preference known.

With less than a month to go before delegates gather to elect their new leader by secret ballot, the ANC's nine provinces and two leagues held special meetings this weekend to anoint their presidential nominees.

With newspapers reporting only a smattering of votes for alternative candidates Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramaphosa, the race appears to be heading towards a two-man affair.

Mbeki, a pro-business moderate, is seen as increasingly aloof and autocratic, while Zuma is being touted as a pro-poor candidate of the left.

But Zuma faces being re-charged with corruption after losing an appeal this month, while Mbeki's position is complicated by the fact that he has to step down as head of state in 2009.

Since the ANC took power following the collapse of apartheid in 1994, the head of the party and the president of the country have been one and the same person, with Nelson Mandela followed by Mbeki.

Zuma has popular support

Political analyst Steven Friedman said the nominations so far were the clearest indication yet that Zuma had enough popular support to get elected, predicting "a very serious race".

"This is the first time we have concrete evidence of how people vote in secret ballots on this issue," he said.

"We now know there is substantial support for Zuma, quite possibly enough to elect him."

But Friedman stressed an alternative candidate could still be nominated from the conference floor in December, and said delegates might not vote identically to the ballots they cast this weekend.

Despite party tradition frowning on campaigning, the two lead contenders came out fighting in the past week.

I'm fit to govern – Zuma

In the most outright confirmation to date of his presidential ambitions, Zuma told a meeting of businessmen he was fit and ready to govern the country when Mbeki leaves office, reported the Sunday Times.

Mbeki, in turn, urged ANC lawmakers not to vote for criminals and rapists — interpreted by many as a reference to Zuma who was tried for raping a family friend last year.

Though acquitted, Zuma was ridiculed for having testified he showered after having had consensual sex with the HIV positive complainant to avoid infection, and for saying she had provoked the encounter by her choice of dress.

"If I am asked, I will be ready for the task," Zuma was reported as saying in the week — also criticising the government for being too soft on crime and for politicising HIV and Aids instead of tackling the pandemic.

Mbeki has said he would be prepared to stand for the party leadership if asked, a statement some analysts have interpreted as a bid to keep out Zuma rather than an attempt to cling on to power.

Sunday newspapers said the race was too close to call, with the City Press describing it as a "cliffhanger" and the Sunday Independent leading with: "Mbeki, Zuma neck and neck".

The ANC declined to comment.



Who will ANC women back?

Mon, 26 Nov 2007

The African National Congress Women's League is to finalise its nominations for the party's leadership on Monday.

Earlier, it was reported that the Women's League favoured Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to lead the party.

The league, however, refuted this saying it would "speak for itself" once it had consolidated the provincial nominations.

The Women's League is regarded as a province in the election process, along with the ANC Youth League.

Youth League backing Zuma

The Youth League on Friday reaffirmed its support for party deputy president Jacob Zuma as president at a press briefing. Its nomination list included Kgalema Mothlante as deputy president, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as national chairperson, Gwede Mantashe as secretary general, Baleka Mbethe as deputy secretary general and Matthew Phosa as treasurer.

Nominations from the ANC provinces placed Zuma in the lead for the top job with a total of 2270 votes. His archrival and president, Thabo Mbeki, received 1396 votes.

Zuma trumped Mbeki in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape, Gauteng and the Free State.

The Eastern Cape, North West, Western Cape and Limpopo backed Mbeki.

Compromise candidates

The provincial nominations placed Zuma and Mbeki at the centre of the battle, with other possible candidates including businessman Tokyo Sexwale and former trade unionist and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, largely absent from nomination lists.

Meanwhile, the SA Council of Churches (SACC) gathered, as the provincial nominations were being finalised on Sunday in Limpopo, to pray for "peace, stability and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the processes leading to the ANC national conference in Polokwane".

"I cannot overemphasise that we could lose it all — much more easily than we gained it. Thirteen, fifteen, twenty five years later, it can all be gone!" said SACC president Professor Tinyiko Maluleke.

Referring to the media and politicians, he said the country found no "entertainment in the scandals with which the public is fed week after week".

"We have watched you disgrace and smear one another in ugly media wars of words and more recently the fist scuffles and fights inspired by your own conduct.

"We have heard our leaders call one another names in public. We have come to ask you all to stop and remember where we come from, as a fledgling nation and as a people recently formed," he said.



ANC provincial nominations see Zuma chances soar

Michael Hamlyn
Mon, 26 Nov 2007

The past few days have seen a huge boost to the morale of the camp that supports Jacob Zuma for president — first of the ANC and then of the country. The weekend provincial congresses make it plain that there is to be a head-to-head contest now between Zuma and the incumbent president of both, Thabo Mbeki, with other candidates fading away.

The mathematics of Zuma's victory at provincial congresses around the country show he is likely to win election as party leader at the national congress in Polokwane next month. All that will stop him is a deal between himself and Mbeki for them both to step aside in favour of a third candidate — and given the groundswell of support for Zuma, this seems a remarkably remote possibility.

You can, of course, not tell what goes on in what used to be called smoke-filled rooms, where threats of prosecution, could be abandoned in return for some yielding on his part. But deal-making aside, even if the Scorpions decide to charge him again with corruption, he could well brush it off, and persuade his supporters that it stems from ill intentioned opponents who are anxious to see him fail.

And even if charged there is certainly not enough time to see him convicted — unless he comes to a negotiated plea bargain which could allow him to receive a sentence les than the 12 months that would disqualify him from sitting in Parliament after the 2009 election.

(It is true that the president is not a Member of Parliament but he has to sit as an MP for a brief time in order to be elected as president of the country.)

This weekend's math looks like this. Nominations from the ANC provinces placed Zuma in the lead with a total of 2270 votes. Mbeki received 1396 votes.

Zuma won overwhelmingly in KwaZulu-Natal, and decisively in Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape, Gauteng and the Free State. Mbeki won more narrowly in the Eastern Cape, North West, Western Cape and Limpopo.

Other possible candidates including businessman Tokyo Sexwale and former trade unionist and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, were nowhere. Except that the former seems to have accepted that he is not going to be president, and has been reported to be manoeuvring to become Zuma's deputy.

The votes of his supporters were said to have swung to Zuma in Limpopo, where Mbeki had the narrowest of victories - carrying the province by only 14 votes. In the Western Cape his supporters swung behind Mbeki, and in return he was nominated for the party chairman's job, beating Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma by 123 votes to 21.

But for president he got only one vote there. Ramaphosa got two.

Mbeki's coattails were also not long enough to have a number of his prominent supporters nominated for high office. The most vociferous of them, Mosiuoa Lekota, the defence minister, and a former Free State premier was humiliated in his home state by failing to be nominated for any one of three of the top party posts, He had five votes wanting him nominated as deputy president, only four people wanted him as chairman (the position he currently holds), and 49 supported his nomination for secretary general.

In KwaZulu-Natal the provincial council removed the presidential policy head Joel Netshitenzhe from the provincial list, and also justice minister Brigitte Mabandla.

They were replaced by Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, whom Mbeki fired as deputy health minister, and Ruth Bhengu who was drummed out of Parliament after pleading guilty to defrauding parliament in the Travelgate scandal. The premier, Sbu Ndebele was only saved from humiliation by the provincial executive who blocked a motion to remove him from the list.

Former Northern Cape premier Dipuo Peters, and his predecessor Manne Dipico — both Mbeki supporters — were both dropped from the province's list of nominees.

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