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Sat Nov 01 10:52:38 SAST 2014

JZ and Motlanthe on collision course

SIBUSISO NGALWA, SIBONGAKONKE SHOBA and DOMINIC MAHLANGU | 18 December, 2012 00:00
DATE WITH DESTINY: ANC President Jacob Zuma and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, at the ruling party's elective conference in Mangaung shortly before they were both nominated for the party presidency
Image by: DANIEL BORN

DEPUTY President Kgalema Motlanthe has finally shown his hand in the ANC leadership race, stunning thousands of delegates at the party's elective conference.

Instead of accepting various nominations, Motlanthe decided to go for broke by accepting nomination only for the ANC presidency, setting himself on a collision course with President Jacob Zuma.

If Motlanthe loses, he could be out of the government next year.

It all comes down to Zuma and whether he can forgive Motlanthe for standing against him.

Analyst Professor Sakhele Buhlungu said yesterday that much depended on whether Zuma's supporters insisted on taking a hardline stance against Motlanthe for "daring" to oppose Zuma.

"If this hardline to humiliate him and [send] him into the wilderness prevails, then you can see more divisions in the party [developing]. But if a softer, conciliatory position emerges, he [Motlanthe] might be allowed to serve his term."

Buhlungu said Zuma was believed to have been upset by Motlanthe's surprisingly bold move and might be tempted to take a hard line.

Though Zuma will have the final say about whom he wants in his cabinet, several changes are expected.

In a drama-filled day, the dominant Zuma faction booed and jeered each time Motlanthe's name was mentioned. Tension was palpable inside the giant marquee as the electoral commission named the nominees.

When the first names were called out - those of Zuma and Motlanthe for the party presidency - Zuma received loud cheers. In contrast, there was only mild applause for Motlanthe.

Though Zuma's slate is expected to be announced as the winner this morning, the "forces of change" group, which backs Motlanthe, was still in a fighting mood last night.

Shortly after the completion of the nominations process, Motlanthe's supporters held an impromptu mini-rally in the parking ground at the University of the Free State's main campus.

ANC Western Cape secretary Songezo Mjongile, who said Zuma had to be challenged "for the sake of [protecting] the image of the ANC", urged the Motlanthe supporters to fight on to the end.

He said their choice of leadership would bring hope and restore the image of the ANC.

He described the Zuma-led ANC as the "ANC of the Guptas".

"Comrades, our date with destiny has arrived. The hour has arrived, comrades.

"We knew the road was going to be difficult . Even the highest court in the land can be undermined. The Free State delegation is not supposed to be here. These comrades were elected in an illegal gathering.

"We stand firm on our convictions . None of us is going to run away. We must never be afraid," said Mjongile, in reference to the dispute about the participation of the Free State delegation to the conference.

But the matter was settled when the dominant Zuma grouping decided not to entertain the call for the Free State delegation - which supports Zuma - to be barred from participating.

The Constitutional Court on Friday ruled that the ANC Free State conference was "unlawful" - thus excluding the 20-member provincial executive committee from the conference.

Among those who had gathered in the parking ground were ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola, Nelson Mandela Bay ANC regional chairman Nceba Faku, Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau, Gauteng MEC for sports Lebogang Maile and infrastructure development MEC Qedani Mahlangu.

Buhlungu said Motlanthe's decision to go head-to-head with Zuma illustrated a fundamental point about democracy in the ANC.

Buhlungu said Motlanthe was also showing delegates that no one was above contestation.

"He's saying that if I don't win, I don't win, but I'll stay on in the organisation," said Buhlungu.

Cyril Ramaphosa, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and outgoing ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa will contest for the deputy presidency of the ANC.

The party's secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, will be up against Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula for the position.

Mbalula said that he did not expect to win.

"I had to respect the nomination that came from the ANC branches. This is not about me but a principle," said Mbalula.

North West Premier Thandi Modise will contest against Baleka Mbete for the national chairmanship. Free State Premier Ace Magashule and ambassador to Italy Thenjiwe Mtintso declined nomination.

Jesse Duarte was elected unopposed as deputy secretary-general after other candidates withdrew.

Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile and KwaZulu-Natal chairman Zweli Mkhize will vie for the position of treasurer-general.

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