/ 20 January 2008

No ANC decision on Motlanthe

It has not been decided whether African National Congress (ANC) deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe will become South Africa’s deputy president, the party’s secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, said on Sunday.

At a meeting with President Thabo Mbeki this weekend, ANC leadership moved to have him appoint Motlanthe as a second deputy president of the country, the Sunday Times reported.

The Mail & Guardian also reported on Friday that a group of senior ANC leaders aligned to party president Jacob Zuma was planning to approach Mbeki in the next few weeks with a proposal to appoint Motlanthe as the country’s deputy president.

”The speculation about the deputy president is a speculation,” Mantashe said on Sunday afternoon at the close of the ANC national executive committee’s (NEC) three-day lekgotla (meeting) in Midrand.

ANC policy is that the president and deputy president of the party serve the country in those capacities. However, there will be two centres of power — the government and the ANC — until the next general elections in 2009 following the election in December of Jacob Zuma as ANC president and Motlanthe as his deputy.

”One of the things I resist is to report on discussions. I report on decisions,” Mantashe told the media at the lekgotla. ”It was not a preoccupation [that Motlanthe be made deputy president of South Africa] at the lekgotla — there was no decision taken on this matter.”

Mantashe said the NEC confirmed as an ”urgent resolution” that those members of the National Prosecuting Authority’s Directorate of Special Operations — known as the Scorpions — performing police functions be absorbed into the South African Police Service by June this year.

He emphasised that charges against Zuma had not informed the decision.

Mantashe said the electricity crisis was also debated in depth at the lekgotla and that the ANC would look into a number of interventions. He said South Africans should try to consume energy efficiently.

Mantashe also announced that diplomat Jesse Duarte would be appointed as the ANC’s new spokesperson, replacing Smuts Ngonyama in the role.

Best for the people

Earlier on Sunday, Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Sandra Botha said any moves to change the Cabinet should be prompted by what is best for South Africa and not by internal differences within the ruling party.

”Reports that indicate that the ANC NEC is placing pressure on President Mbeki to give ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe a Cabinet position, and possibly even a deputy presidency, are further evidence of the effects of having two centres of power.

”Any moves to change the composition of Cabinet must not be solely motivated by the desire to deal with the internal differences within the ANC, but rather by what is best for the people of South Africa,” Botha said in a statement.

Changes to the Cabinet should also set the tone for an improved administration, by replacing some of its worst performers. Among these are:

  • Minerals and Energy Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica, who needs to explain why she did not ensure South Africa’s electricity problems were addressed;

  • Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, who had acted as ”a continual brake” on the liberalisation of telecommunication regulations;

  • Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who is undoubtedly the Cabinet’s ”greatest problem”. Throughout her tenure she has persisted in undermining any constructive attempts to manage South Africa’s Aids epidemic, and presided over a department ensnared in inefficiency and mismanagement; and,

  • Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who has ”presided over a department rendered almost useless by mismanagement”. Her department’s latest annual report sketches a situation of virtual financial anarchy.

Botha said South Africa is facing myriad crises, and it is absolutely essential the best men and women are selected to deal with them.

”If … executive positions are going to be used to settle political scores, then there is every chance that the situation in South Africa will continue to go from bad to worse,” she warned. — Sapa