THE ANC has officially opened the succession debate, giving structures the go ahead to start discussing names of preferred candidates for the party’s top positions in December.
Secretary General Gwede Mantashe on Monday told reporters that the National Executive Committee (NEC) had decided to allow the process to unfold until September when the nomination period starts.
“On the succession debate, the NEC acknowledged that to continue to assert that the organization was not in the grip of leadership election fever was foolhardy. The NEC agreed that we should continue discussing the principles that should guide election of leadership in the ANC but allow structures of the ANC to start discussing the names,” he said.
Mantashe added that the discussions should be based on the principles discussed and Through the Eye of the Needle guidelines.
“Nominations though will only be opened in September 2017. All these activities dealing with succession should be monitored and as comrades discuss the names, nobody should ridicule or defame any other potential candidate nor should they tarnish the name of the ANC in the process,” said Mantashe.
The official opening of the succession debate comes months after supporters of former African Union Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the front runners to replace President Jacob Zuma as ANC leader, hit the campaign trail unofficially.
The two party heavy weights have been criss-crossing the country in a bid to garner support ahead of the all important elective conference.
Mantashe said the NEC also reflected on a period which had been politically hectic for the organisation.
He said the period was defined as having heightened levels of a state of restlessness in society requiring the ANC to develop an approach and provide leadership to society.
The highest decision making body of the organisation further deliberated on the issue of state capture. The ANC secretary general said they agreed that a judicial commission of inquiry was required to fully grasp how deep the issue goes. The inquiry would cover the period between 1994 and this year.
“The NEC accepted the proposal that was tabled in the Political Report for the establishment of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry into allegations of state capture without delay. The terms of reference of such Commission of Enquiry must be broad enough to uncover the influence of business on the state. The NEC expressed its desire to see all processes of reviewing the Public Protector’s State of Capture report accelerated so that they are not an obstacle to the speedy establishment of the Judicial Commission into State Capture,” he said.
The politically connected Gupta family, which is said to be extremely close to Zuma, has been at the center of allegations of state capture. They have been said to be the ones calling the shots and involved in the appointments of cabinet ministers.
Since the State of Capture report released by former public protector Thuli Madonsela, Zuma has been facing revolt within the party. Some members of the NEC, led by former Tourism Minister Dereck Hanekom, have been publicly calling for him to step down.
It was the same thing over the weekend when a second motion in six months was tabled calling on the president to leave office. ANC NEC member and party policy guru Joel Netshitenzhe this time tabled the motion, which was not on the agenda.
According to sources, 18 of the NEC members supported Netshitenzhe’s motion while 54 rejected it. Sources said the following NEC members spoke in favour of the no confidence motion:
Mantashe said it was agreed that the removal of a sitting president was bigger an issue than an individual.
He said that could not be allowed because it would be used by opposition parties to dislodge the ANC from power.
Despite surviving calls for his head within his party, Zuma’s woes are far from over. The Constitutional Court is still to deliver judgement on a legal challenge to have a motion of no confidence ballot cast secretly in Parliament.
Zuma’s detractors within the ANC and opposition parties hope that, if a secret vote is granted, it would boost their chances of toppling the president from power.
Mantashe was, however, adamant that ANC MP’s would vote within the party lines.
“On the motion of no confidence against the President proposed in Parliament, the NEC reaffirmed its confidence in comrades deployed as Members of Parliament (MP) trusting that they would continue to conduct themselves in line with Constitution, prescripts and norms of the African National Congress. Regardless of whether a secret ballot is granted by the court or not, ANC MPs, as always, are expected to vote in line with the decision of the Caucus of the ANC. Failure to do so is in violation of Rule 126.96.36.199 of the ANC Constitution,” he said