Gauteng slams Zuma allies
ANC leaders in Gauteng are angry about what they say is premature campaigning by senior party leaders and cabinet ministers linked to President Jacob Zuma's campaign.
A Gauteng leader who spoke on condition of anonymity said the matter dominated discussion at the party's two-day provincial executive committee (PEC) this weekend.
Insiders said the PEC had recently been informed that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Public Enterprise Minister Malusi Gigaba, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi and MK Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) leader Kebby Maphatsoe had held "secret" meetings with branch leaders in Soweto, the West Rand and Kempton Park.
A PEC member said if the allegations were true, these leaders had violated a national executive committee (NEC) directive that party members must refrain from discussing succession until October, when nominations would be opened.
"The campaigning in Gauteng is in full swing ... They have been putting our branch and regional leaders under a lot of pressure. Their behaviour is factional," said a PEC member who also asked not to be named.
Maphatsoe denied holding secret meetings with branch leaders but reiterated the MKMVA's support for Zuma.
"The MKMVA was at the forefront of Zuma's campaign in 2007. That stance still stands. We have done an assessment of the performance of the leadership. We think Jacob Zuma has performed very well. We don't see why he should not be retained," said Maphatsoe.
Gigaba dismissed the claim. "What rubbish is that?" he said.
"It is that season ..... You are going to hear more of this nonsense."
Nxesi's spokesman, Sabelo Mali, said the allegations were "founded" because his interaction with ANC branches was part of his duties. "The minister is deployed by government as a parliamentary constituency officer in Kempton Park. Part of his responsibility is to interact with his constituency and ANC branches."
Mthethwa's spokesman, Zweli Mnisi, said the minister was not aware of such accusations: "The process of nomination of ANC leaders only commences in October this year and as a disciplined member [Mthethwa] does not and will not discuss internal ANC matters through the media."
The ANC's spokesman in the province, Nkenke Kekana, confirmed that the PEC had received complaints about campaigning.
"Some of our branches have raised this concern that they are being put under pressure to attend secret meetings.
"These are bad habits that emerged before Polokwane. And we have discouraged that and indicated that any evaluation of the performance of the leaders of the ANC belongs to our branches and our structures. Any person who feels they need to discuss this thing with our branches should go to their branches or raise them within the structures of the ANC," said Kekana.
The Gauteng PEC, under the leadership of Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, is known to be hostile to Zuma's second-term campaign. It is expected to endorse an "Anything But Zuma" campaign.
According to an ANC insider, Gauteng leaders are, however, unlikely to back Fikile Mbalula's campaign to remove secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
A Gauteng leader said Zuma's lobbyists were failing in their attempts to sway the province in Zuma's favour.
"People are telling them, 'On what basis are you calling us to secret meetings? It is the same approach towards Polokwane when ministers moved around (campaigning for former president Thabo Mbeki). The NEC said you can't do these things."
However, a youth league leader in the province said the Gauteng PEC was itself campaigning for Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. "People are obviously campaigning. Why are they complaining about the same thing that they themselves are doing?" said the youth leader.
Gauteng is scheduled to hold a provincial general council in the next two weeks, when the succession issue is expected to be discussed.