ANC conference likely to reveal fault lines on leadership


DELEGATES ATTENDING the African National Congress’s policy conference this week will debate South Africa’s economic future but the factions vying for top positions in the ruling party’s December election will also be out to secure their support.

From tomorrow until Friday evening the 3,554 ANC delegates will discuss how the party should proceed in relation to its stance on issues such as youth wage subsidy, land reform, the youth league’s autonomy, nationalisation and the transformation of the judiciary and the media.

However, insiders and political analysts expect the conference in Johannesburg to become a mini-battleground between supporters of president Jacob Zuma and those of his potential opponents ahead of the ANC’s five-yearly elective conference.

Although the ANC has insisted the party’s succession debate will not begin until October, when nominations will be made for the various positions, it has been reported that a number of senior members are willing to oppose Mr Zuma if he runs again.

Factions in the ANC have already expressed disillusionment with Mr Zuma’s rule, including the ANC Youth League and a number of the party’s provincial structures.

For many of those opposed to the president it is a case of “anyone but Zuma” as they believe their current leader has dictatorial tendencies.

The two senior ANC members mentioned so far as potential candidates in a leadership race with Mr Zuma are his party and presidential deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, and the current human settlements minister, Tokyo Sexwale.

Neither man has publicly stated he is interested in the job but sources within their camps have told reporters they will make their intentions known at the right time.

Mr Motlanthe is seen as a unifying candidate who could bring an end to factionalism in the ANC but not much is known about his ideological approach to issues such as the economy and social transformation.

In recent weeks Mr Sexwale, a former Robben island inmate and self-made multimillionaire, called on the current ANC leadership to change or face removal. He was a candidate in the ANC presidential race in 2007 but withdrew and backed Mr Zuma.

It is believed policy discussions around the “second transition” document, which has been supported by Mr Zuma, will likely reveal the fault lines that exist between the ANC president and other senior members.

According to the document the ANC needs to introduce a second transition, following its political emancipation, which focuses on the social and economic transformation of South Africa, as the structures of the apartheid era economy remained.

Mr Motlanthe reportedly questioned the idea of the second transition document at a recent dinner gala, saying it was littered with “smatterings of Marxist jargon”.