Zuma criticises slates
President Jacob Zuma on Thursday urged delegates attending the ANC's Northern Cape elective conference to stop focusing on slates and elect mature leaders who will help the party grow.
Addressing 800 delegates in Upington, Zuma slammed the practice of lobbying for positions ahead of conferences, saying it could result in the election of "wrong persons who cannot fulfil the ANC's programme of action".
He told the delegates that they needed to be careful about the character of leader they elected to office.
"In other words, [the] conference has to look at comrades, their merits, their everything, not just the names. Not because I do toyi-toyi better than everybody else and then I must lead, because you are not going to do toyi-toyi every day. You need a comrade who will help the ANC to grow, to be stronger ... The ANC is an organisation of comrades, not of friends," he said.
Zuma's remarks could be viewed as a stab at incumbent chairman John Block, who has set his sights on re-election for a third term despite facing fraud and corruption charges involving hundreds of millions of rands.
Block was last night challenged by Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant. But 9pm indications were that Oliphant would not be able to garner enough support to topple the controversial ANC provisional chairman, who is to go on trial in the Kimberley High Court in February.
Block's entire leadership slate is expected to be retained.
Block's detractors accuse him of sidelining those who disagree with him politically.
Zuma, who received a warm welcome, told delegates that differences within the ANC needed to be resolved in a comradely fashion and that the party was not the domain of individuals.
"We acknowledge that at times there are ups and downs, but they need to be confronted by comrades, comradely. We need to participate to help solve the problem not help increase the problem.
"At times individual comrades become very active in undermining the organisation, at times not just individuals [but] groupings of comrades, almost trying to suggest that the organisation belongs to them ... We need to work hard to maintain the harmony of the ANC," he said.
But Zuma might find the province difficult to win over as he seeks support for another term at the ruling party's elective conference in Mangaung.
ANC leaders in Northern Cape are said to have aligned themselves with the ABZ [Anyone But Zuma] fever sweeping some sections of the party. They are said to be ready to back either Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, should he stand in Mangaung, or throw in their lot with Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who looks likely to challenge Zuma.
The conference started amid tight security. Elections for new leaders took place late on Thursday night.