ANC leadership 'deal' on the cards
Senior ANC leaders are desperately trying to hammer together a back-room ''deal'' to stave off a bruising battle before the party's elective conference in December.
The deal is said to have the backing of party veterans.
Yesterday, Gauteng ANC executive leaders met with their counterparts in KwaZulu-Natal after both provinces had endorsed different leadership lists.
The meeting at Isibaya Casino, north of Durban, is the first of many expected to be held between provinces as the nomination process continues at branch levels across the country.
The Gauteng delegation was led by its chairman Paul Mashatile and secretary David Makhura, while the KwaZulu-Natal delegation was led by its chairman Zweli Mkhize, deputy chairman Willies Mchunu and secretary Sihle Zikalala.
Sources close to yesterday's talks said the point of departure was the position of ANC president.
They said both parties presented their arguments for each name on the lists. KwaZulu-Natal wants Zuma to retain the presidency, but Gauteng wants Kgalema Motlanthe.
"If a deal is not found, we are likely to end up with a dead organisation on our hands. These talks are important as it is through trade-offs that a balance will be found.
"The discussion with our counterparts in KZN is one of the many scheduled meetings across the country. The purpose is to avoid the danger that slates have done to the organisation. We have lost good comrades in the process.
"For the ANC to survive we need to debate and influence each other's leadership preferences," said a senior Gauteng ANC member.
But, according to insiders, the candidates for party president remained a sticking point for the two provinces.
KwaZulu-Natal is believed to have insisted that Zuma be elected for a second term, but Gauteng pushed to have his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, lead the ruling party and the country after Mangaung.
KwaZulu-Natal is said to have maintained that while it would be taking the highest number of delegates - 974 - to Mangaung, compared to Gauteng's 500, it remained open to suggestions from other s.
Sources familiar with the KwaZulu-Natal strategy said the province wanted to persuade others that Motlanthe stand back until 2017 when he would then be elected president. One of the arguments was that, at 63, Motlanthe still had age on his side compared to Zuma, who is 70.
Part of this deal meant Zuma would delegate some of his powers to Motlanthe. This would be similar to the strategy that former president Nelson Mandela had adopted during his term in office while Thabo Mbeki was his deputy. By the time Mbeki became president in 1999, he had significant control of government already.
According to a statement issued after the Isibaya Casino meeting, both Makhura and Zikalala said the discussions had been "frank, robust and constructive, with the sole aim of building a common approach to the upcoming national conference".
While yesterday's meeting in KwaZulu-Natal continued late into the afternoon, the ANC Limpopo executive committee and its counterparts in Mpumalanga released their leadership slates.
Limpopo has nominated Motlanthe as its preferred presidential candidate, while Mpumalanga supported Zuma for a second term.
The Mpumalanga executive committee said it wanted to continue with what it called leadership that is "in touch with the people, accessible and flexible".
Just like KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga put forward the names of businessman Cyril Ramaphosa for deputy president and Jessie Duarte as the party's deputy secretary.
It wants KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize as the next ANC treasurer-general, while incumbent secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and party chair Baleka Mbete would retain their posts.
Limpopo has opted to nominate Housing Minister Tokyo Sexwale as deputy president.