/ 23 July 2007

The third way

Tokyo Sexwale’s star is on the rise. He has secured a foothold in at least four major provinces where senior party leaders have been lobbying for his election as ANC president.

A ‘national coordinating committee”, led by Gauteng finance minister Paul Mashatile and national executive committee member Enoch Godongwana, has been meeting once a month since Sexwale announced in May that he would be available for nomination.

They will meet more frequently in the weeks leading up to the formal nomination process, which opens in September.

They already have a preliminary list of the names of the other ‘top six” ANC leaders — deputy president, national chairperson, secretary general, deputy­secretary general and treasurer general — who would serve with Sexwale at the helm of Luthuli House.

Secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe would retain either his current position or move to deputy president; Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would either be deputy president or national chairperson; Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete would become either national chairperson or secretary general; Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu would be either secretary general or national chairperson; and NEC member Mathews Phosa would be treasurer general.

In the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State Sexwale has the backing of senior provincial leaders who hold weekly meetings to galvanise support. In Gauteng Mashatile and the ANC chairperson of the Sedibeng region, Simon Mofokeng, are key coordinators. In the Eastern Cape Godongwana, ANC veteran Mcebisi Jonas and former Nelson Mandela Metropolitan mayor Ncebu Faku are driving the process. In Mpumalanga ANC veteran and businessman Lassie Chiwayo and, to a lesser extent, Phosa are key players. In the Free State ANC deputy chairperson Pat Matosa is coordinating the process.

The Mail & Guardian understands that on Wednesday at least 11 Free State regional and branch secretaries met in Bloemfontein to discuss Sexwale’s presidential campaign. Matosa said: ‘At this stage I cannot comment [on our strategy], but I can confirm that I am supporting Sexwale.”

Mofokeng said: ‘We had a regional general council more than a month ago, in which we resolved that we would not pronounce on any individual until the process is opened. Therefore, as the regional chairperson, I cannot disregard that decision.”

The M&G contacted, but did not receive comment in time from all the leaders who are said to be supporting Sexwale.

The M&G understands that Sexwale used the ANC’s policy conference as a platform to ‘reintroduce” his political image. ‘People know him now only as a business baron, they forget that he is grounded in ANC politics,” said a source close to Sexwale.

The day before the policy conference started in Midrand, Sexwale delivered a speech at the ANC Western Cape’s fund-raising dinner in which he outlined his vision of a developmental state — a key theme at the policy conference and central to the ANC-led government’s future strategy.

‘During these modern times within our globalised world it is no longer an issue for debate as to whether the state should intervene in the economy or other­wise. It is a given. The market forces of supply and demand left on their own do not have inherent mechanisms to ensure intervention on the side of those who still carry the scars of historical, political and socio- economic injustice,” Sexwale said.

It is accepted generally that any candidate hoping to launch a successful presidential bid should have the support of at least one of the three most powerful provinces — KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng or the Eastern Cape.

At present there is no overwhelming support in any province for one presidential candidate — even KwaZulu-Natal has pockets that do not support ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma. This is a recipe for aggressive lobbying — President Thabo Mbeki is believed to have phoned each provincial chairperson personally following the ANC’s policy conference to thank them for their support.

‘At the moment there is the Mbeki way, the Zuma way and the third way,” said a source close to Sexwale. ‘The support dynamic is very fluid, but as a result there is a sense that internal democracy has been revived to some extent.”

In the past Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan, Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula and Minister of Social Development Zola Skweyiya have been said to support Sexwale, but the M&G understands that as party elders they have been talking to all stakeholders in the succession race, including Mbeki, in a bid to engineer a compromise to unify the party again.

The M&G understands that recently appointed home affairs director general Mavuso Msimang, who is historically close to Mbeki and an ANC veteran, has been brought into the fold.

How strongly the backing of these provincial leaders will translate into grassroots support remains unclear because of the unpredictability of the succession battle. However, there is a growing section of ANC members who are seeking an alternative to both Mbeki and Zuma.