The ANC has said any pronouncements by its youth league about who it is backing in the party’s leadership succession race are “void of impact”.
ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola told supporters in Kimberly this weekend that the league would be backing ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe to take over as president in 2012 at the party’s Mangaung elective conference, according to the Cape Times.
Lamola also said the league wanted Minister of Sports and Recreation Fikile Mbalula to replace Gwede Mantashe as ANC secretary general.
The organisation has wanted the succession race debates kept out of the public sphere.
Political analyst Professor Steven Friedman says the ANC has “failed to manage the battles for power and position in a way doesn’t damage organisation”.
“You can have battles if they are competed fairly and openly but the ANC have failed to achieve that. The battles are fought in indirect ways,” said Friedman.
Lamola was defiant about orders not to speak about succession in public.
“Members of the league in KwaZulu-Natal speak of Zuma for a second term and that is fine. Is that not a succession debate?” the article quoted him as saying.
“Why are they not being disciplined? Why is it acceptable to speak of the succession to support [Zuma], but when you change the name in the debate it is no longer acceptable?”
Succession, the democratic way
ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza told the Mail & Guardian that it was up to “the leadership of the ANC to take a decision on how to deal youth league members or anybody that defies the standing decision not to discuss succession”.
But Freidman said the youth league gets away with saying such things as there are senior members in the ANC who protect the members of the youth league.
“A person won’t stand up and say they want to be president, so they have ridiculous surrogates say things … When challenged an ANC member can respond, ‘I didn’t say that, it was some impetuous young member’,” added Friedman.
But Khoza said “it was the branches of the ANC who would decide on the leadership of the ANC, not individuals”.
“The branches of the ANC have not started discussing the issue of leadership yet,” he added.
He said there were roughly 5 000 branches in the country and the decision on succession had to be made by them “in a democratic manner”.
The league declined to answer questions about Lamola’s succession comments and referred the M&G to him. He was unavailable to comment.