Succession race to lead South Africa’s ANC heats up


The person regarded as the most credible alternative to replace South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma as the head of the ruling ANC has denied claims he will seek the party’s top job when it elects leaders next year.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, seen as a respected consensus builder, has been pushed by groups within the factious African National Congress who want to oust an ineffectual Zuma seen as doing little to push their left-leaning agenda.
“The deputy president’s office wishes to state categorically that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe… is not involved in any campaigning or lobbying for the presidency of the ANC and he has not spoken to anyone about his future role in the ANC,” a statement issued by Motlanthe late on Monday said, Reuters reports.

The knives are out for Zuma, ANC insiders have said, but the party that helped bring down apartheid and has ruled for 17 years since it ended, frowns on open campaigning for top party posts and considers it political suicide to declare intentions to seek office.
“There is no individual lobbying, not because of an absence of good people in leadership positions, it is the culture of the organisation that makes it difficult for these people to raise their hands,” said political analyst Sipho Seepe.

The worry for investors is that a weakened Zuma may try to win back support from political heavyweights organised labour and the ANC Youth League by backing their calls for nationalisation of major industries and labour reforms that would drive up costs for employers.
“People are not happy with Zuma and are not happy with the corruption and where the country is going,” said an ANC official who asked not to be named.

Zuma was elected as leader of the ANC in 2007 when it last voted for party leaders and South Africa’s President in 2009. The ANC candidate in the next national presidential election in 2014 is almost certain to win given its dominance over politics.

ANC insiders said Zuma’s lack of direction, his colourful personal life and multiple marriages have alienated him from his supporters who want a more credible alternative.

Motlanthe, a former ANC and National Union of Mineworkers secretary general, is seen as a unifying force in the party who commands the support of left leaning pro-poor factions as well as business elements within the party.

He served several months as president in 2008 and 2009 in a caretaker government, but did not advance any significant policies to alter Africa’s largest economy.
“Zuma is intimidated by Motlanthe and sees him as a real threat. If they go head to head, there is a possibility Zuma will come second,” the ANC source said.