/ 5 October 2012

Provinces nail colours to the mast

Free State premier Ace Magashule shows his allegiance to Jacob Zuma while campaigning for re-election as provincial ANC chairperson earlier this year.
Free State premier Ace Magashule shows his allegiance to Jacob Zuma while campaigning for re-election as provincial ANC chairperson earlier this year.

With just more than two months left before the ANC's crucial 53rd conference in Mangaung, a number of party members have raised fears about possible vote-rigging and "buying" of members to ensure a particular faction emerges victorious.

Both the anti- and pro-President Jacob Zuma camps have claimed the upper hand after the ANC national executive committee released the final figures of delegates who will attend the conference in December. But it was the sudden membership increase in Zuma's home province of KwaZulu-Natal, from 252 000 in May to 333 000 in June that raised eyebrows, with some committee members questioning how the audit committee came up with the figures because the party's membership system had not been running between November last year and March.

Two ANC national executive committee members who spoke on condition of anonymity claimed that the numbers Zuma presented at the January 8 celebration, which showed that the party had exceeded the million-member target, were projections from provinces, because the system was not yet in operation.

Following complaints by some committee members, there was a significant increase in the number of delegates, particularly in anti-Zuma provinces. The Eastern Cape increased membership by just more than 120, whereas KwaZulu-Natal lost about 60 members.

Here is how various provinces are likely to vote at the ANC's national conference, after the committee officially opened nominations on Monday:

The ANC provincial executive committeeas and as the women's, youth and veterans' leagues have declared their support for Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as president and Fikile Mbalula as secretary general. All regions in the province are run by Premier Cassel Mathale's allies and are expected to lobby for leadership change. There has been serious tension between the provincial ANC leadership and Zuma supporters, with party members accusing Zuma and his administration of abusing state resources to settle political scores. This relates to the government's decision to put six departments in the province under administration and the move by the Hawks to charge expelled youth league leader Julius Malema with money laundering. The campaign to oust Zuma was launched in Limpopo.

Gauteng has become one of the leading provinces, after Limpopo, to call for leadership change in Mangaung. The ANC leaders in the province, including chairperson and Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile and secretary David Makhura, have been lobbying ANC leaders from other provinces to support Motlanthe for the position of president. However, the provincial youth league and women's league are divided between Motlanthe and Zuma. According to ANC insiders, all regional executives in Gauteng – except Ekurhuleni – support Motlanthe. There are, however, a number of branches, particularly in Sedibeng, the West Rand and Johannesburg, who want Zuma to retain his position.

The ANC provincial executive committee is fully behind Zuma's re-election. Although the youth league in the province has been disbanded on account of its support for Motlanthe, the women's and veterans' leagues support the provincial committee's call for continuity in leadership. Last Friday, the national executive committee announced that ANC membership in the province had grown by 90000, which could boost Zuma's bid for a second term. The increase from 252 000 in May 2012 to 333 000 now has raised eyebrows, but ANC provincial spokesperson Sihle Zikalala dismissed claims it had anything to do with tribalism or gerrymandering. He said he was not aware of any divisions in the province over the leadership question.

That Mpumalanga is behind Zuma's re-election is no longer a matter of debate. Although the ANC's provincial executive committee has not yet announced its nomination, it is no secret that it prefers Zuma to continue to lead the ANC and the country beyond Mangaung. Zuma, a close ally of Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza, also enjoys support from the province's women's league. The veterans' league in the province is in a state of disarray, but the ANC Youth League has made it clear that it supports Motlanthe. A youth league leader told the Mail & Guardian that 150 out of 456 voting delegates ­travelling to Mangaung would not support Zuma's re-election.  

Free State
The province's executive committee supports Zuma. In a recent interview, Free State premier Ace Magashule said his province was 100% behind Zuma. He lambasted those calling for Zuma's removal despite his "great" record in running the ANC and the government. But regions such as Thabo Mofutsanyana, Motheo and Lejweleputswa do not agree with the committee's choice. Fezile Dabi, Magashule's home base, is the only region not divided over the leadership question. The provincial women's league supports Zuma's re-lection.

North West
The ANC regions in North West are torn between Zuma and Motlanthe. However, its provincial executive has pledged its support for Zuma. The M&G understands that the committee met this week and apparently agreed to propose to branches that all the party's national office bearers – led by Zuma – should be re-elected for the sake of unity and continuity.

ANC deputy chair and local government MEC China Dodovu slammed the decision, saying it amounted to imposing leadership on the branches. "Some members of the provincial executive did not participate in that discussion to support JZ as president and retain the status quo, because we believe it is the branches that must … choose leaders without undue influence." He said Motlanthe was an ideal candidate to extricate the ANC from its current crisis. "I believe in change. I also believe that the overwhelming number of voting delegates attending the conference support change." Although the women's and veterans' leagues are likely to support Zuma, the youth league backs Motlanthe.

Eastern Cape
The provincial executive and women's league support Zuma, but the youth league and most regions, including OR Tambo and Nelson Mandela Bay, support Motlanthe.

Northern Cape
The provincial executive supports Zuma and the youth league and the majority of regions want Motlanthe.

Western Cape
Former Western Cape ANC chairperson Mcebisi Skwatsha and his enemy, the incumbent Marius Fransman, who is deputy minister of international relations, want Zuma to retain his position. But there has been such bad blood between the two that even their supporters are questioning the new relationship. Fransman is an ally of former premier Ebrahim Rasool and both were implicated by former journalist Ashley Smith in the "brown envelope saga", when Smith claimed they were behind a media campaign against Skwatsha. "Because of their antagonistic past, they refuse to even address the same meetings of the pro-Zuma caucus and both of them are struggling to get their supporters to buy in to the new relationship," said a friend of Skwatsha's.

Most provincial executive members want change in Mangaung.