Tokyo Sexwale says that by standing for ANC deputy president despite slim chances, he was honouring democracy within the ruling party.
Tokyo Sexwale believes his contestation of the ANC's deputy president position, and that of others who were competing against what appears to be a shoo-in pro-Jacob Zuma slate, were demonstrating the "courage" required to "kill" the politics of slates and "fear".
Sexwale told the Mail & Guardian on Monday that by contesting, "we are killing a number of things, we are killing the politics of slates, we are killing the politics of dragoons, the politics of fear, the politics of people who say 'I have more power than you'."
He added that the aim was to create "a free flowing society. Nationally it is there … The problem is within the organisation – as the president has condemned it."
Sexwale said he didn't want to "pay lip-service" in his criticism of slate politics and was not going to "chicken out" when "many hundreds" of branch members supported his candidacy and worked hard at branch level to see him contest.
"Democracy must be freeflowing, that's number one," Sexwale reiterated, "Democracy should not just be a zero-sum game … When it comes to the slate politics, everybody has condemned it. We hope that by standing in the positions in which one has been nominated, you are beginning to break down the whole dangerous mentality of slate politics. It is not enough for the president and other people to merely condemn this, its important that people like me should stand up and not just pay lip service, we need to stand up and be seen to be destroying this kind of thing," said Sexwale.
The ANC had, on Monday afternoon, opened nominations for the party's top six and national executive committee positions to the conference floor and Sexwale declined his nomination for the treasurer general position with the words "I can't count the money, so I decline."
Sexwale's withdrawal leaves the ANC's KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairperson and premier, Zweli Mkhize (who is on the Zuma ticket), to contest the position with the arts and culture minister and Gauteng chairperson, Paul Mashatile. Mashatile has been keen on Zuma's removal as ANC president and considered part of the Anyone But Zuma (ABZ) faction.
Sexwale will go up against current treasurer general Mathews Phosa (an ABZ-er) and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa (who is on the Zuma ticket) for the deputy president position. Current deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, who will go up against Zuma for the ANC presidency, declined nomination for the deputy presidency.
Commenting on Motlanthe's year-long position that he would not appear on the slate of any particular faction, Sexwale said: "I admire Kgalema, who had a secure position, he had a secure position as deputy president … He is a man of principle. I have worked with him in many, many structures and I respect him more today, when I see what he has done."
The secretary general position will see incumbent Gwede Manatashe challenged by sports minister and staunch ABZ-er, Fikile Mbalula while the deputy secretary-general position saw the pro-Zuma Jessie Duarte standing uncontested.
The contest for ANC chairperson will see Thandi Modise take on incumbent Baleka Mbete. Free State premier and Zuma backer Ace Magashule earlier declined nomination for the position and he told the M&G that this was because Mbete showed "quality, reliability and decisiveness" in her job.