THE ANC Youth League (ANCYL) has implored the mother body’s leaders to openly pronounce their preferred presidential candidates than hide behind so-called “ANC tradition” as a ploy to endorse some.
This comes after ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe told party supporters and church congregates in Limpopo over the weekend that the ruling party would plunge into crises if any candidate than Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa were to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC leader in December.
At least seven candidates including ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are vying for the party’s top job.
Other presidential hopefuls include ANC National Chairperson Baleka Mbete; Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize; his predecessor Mathews Phosa; and NEC members Lindiwe Sisulu and Jeff Radebe.
Mantashe said the party needed to follow its “smooth” tradition, which said the deputy president should succeed the incumbent when their term of office lapsed.
“When Tambo handed over to Mandela, that was smooth. Mandela handed over to [Thabo] Mbeki. When Mbeki resisted, there was a crisis. If we elect Ramaphosa to be a President, let us have a woman Deputy President. That will be smooth. That is my personal advice,” Mantashe said, adding there would be a crisis if Zuma “resisted to hand over to” Ramaphosa.
He also appealed to the United African Apostolic Church in Venda to pray for the ANC, saying that the church prayers will help the party during this period that is “going to be characterized by betrayal”, leading to the highly anticipated elective conference.
Whoever is elected ANC president will be the front runner to become the country’s president in 2019.
However, Mantashe’s utterances didn’t seat well with the ANCYL.
Mlondi Mkhize, ANCYL National Spokesperson, said the stance taken by Mantashe to ‘beat around the bush’ in his pronouncement of his preferred presidential candidate was not reasonable.
He said this was because most leaders within the ANC were voted into positions, even if they didn’t serve as deputies. This dated back to the time of Walter Sisulu, he said, who served as the ANC Deputy President but never assumed the presidency.
Mkhize questioned why the “tradition” was only applicable now, when it was not invoked when successive National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) leaders like Mantashe himself were elected as ANC secretaries general.
The last three ANC secretary generals cut their political teeth in the NUM. They include Mantashe, Kgalema Motlanthe and Ramaphosa himself.
“In the ANC, the constitution itself says that a member is eligible to be elected in any position, making it clear that there is no one who will be elected on the basis that a person was the deputy before. If people want certain leaders to be elected, they must just say so and leave the issue of tradition aside.” Mkhize told African Times.
He also said the ANC will not violate its constitution, because of Mantashe’s comments, to feed a supposed tradition which seems to be reserved for the position of ANC presidency only.
Dlamini Zuma and her camp, led by ANC Kwazulu-Natal Chairperson Sihle Zikalala, have hit back against Mantashe.
“Anyone who predicts chaos in the ANC when the branches are exercising their democratic right is not a true cadre of the ANC,” Dlamini-Zuma told ANC members at the party’s Cadres Forum on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.
However, ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu, a staunch Ramaphosa ally, took to social media to defend Mantashe from the attacks.
“Comrade Gwede’s principled stance that Deputy President Ramaphosa, current Deputy President, must accent to the position of ANC President is correct,” Mthembu said.