Choose mature leaders, warns Zuma
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has urged ANC delegates in the Northern Cape to stop focusing on slates and elect mature leaders who will help the organisation grow.
Addressing the ruling party's provincial elective conference in Upington yesterday, Zuma slammed the practice of lobbying for positions ahead of conferences, saying it could result in the election of "wrong persons who cannot fulfil the ANC's programme of action".
Zuma told the 800 delegates packed inside a marquee at the town's Eiland Pleasure Resort that they needed to be careful about the character of leaders they elected to office.
"In other words, conference has to look at comrades, their merits, their everything, not just the names. Not because I do toyi-toyi more than everybody else and then I must lead because you are not going to do toyi-toyi everyday. You need a comrade that will help the ANC to grow, to be stronger ... the ANC is an organisation of comrades, not friends."
Zuma's remarks could be viewed as a stab at incumbent John Block, who has set his sights on re-election for a third term in office despite fraud and corruption charges involving hundreds of millions of rands hanging over his head.
Block is facing a challenge from Deputy Minerals Resources Minister Godfrey Oliphant, but earlier indications were that Oliphant would not be able to muster enough support to topple the controversial ANC chairman, who is set to go on trial in the Kimberley High Court in February.
But Block's detractors - he has been occupying the seat since 2004 - accuse him of side-lining those who disagree with him politically.
Zuma, who received a warm welcome, told delegates that differences within the ANC needed to be resolved in a comradely fashion and that the party was not the domain of individuals.
"We acknowledge that at times there are ups and downs but they need to be confronted by comrades, comradely. We need to participate to help solve the problem, not help increase the problem.
"At times, individual comrades become very active in undermining the organisation, at times not just individuals (but) groupings of comrades, almost trying to suggest that the organisation belongs to them ... we need to work hard to maintain the harmony of the ANC," he said.
But Zuma might find the province difficult to manoeuvre as he seeks support for another term at the ruling party's elective conference in Mangaung.
ANC leaders in the Northern Cape are said to have aligned themselves with the "Anyone But Zuma" fever sweeping some sections of the ruling party. They are said to be ready to back either Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe or throw in their lot with Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale.
The conference kicked off yesterday, and elections for new leaders take place today.