power battle rages

Eric Naki

Eric Naki

Just more than two months after the ANC national conference in Polokwane, the battle for control of the party rages on.

The Jacob Zuma camp is not content with having taken power: they want to finish off their opponents by obliterating them from party and alliance structures. The purge of Mbeki supporters is a reality.

Since Polokwane the Zuma camp has taken over the national working committee, party sub-committees and parliamentary committees.

The preparations for the coming elective provincial ANC and ANCYL conferences will again provide the ground for renewed battles for positions. Polokwane-style tensions have been rekindled ahead of the provincial election indabas to be held between April and June.

Cosatu is brandishing names of preferred ANC provincial leaders in Mpumalanga and elsewhere, while the ANCYL in Limpopo has already pronounced that it wants provincial secretary Julius Malema, instead of Songezo Mjongile, to replace outgoing president Fikile Mbalula.

Mpumalanga Premier Thabang Makwetla and his Limpopo counterpart Sello Moloto are being targeted for axing, to be replaced by David Mabuza and Cassel Mathale, respectively.

Cosatu's provincial secretary Norman Mokoena says: "We want an ANC leadership collective that will unite the alliance and not undermine the NEC that was elected in Limpopo."

The Limpopo experience showed that Cosatu and the ANCYL are kingmakers and whoever they endorse is guaranteed election, just as happened with the current ANC top six and the majority of the NEC.

As happened prior to Polokwane, those likely to oppose the Zuma-camp candidates are being subjected to vilification and public rebuke.

Emissaries have been deployed to work with loyalists to pin-point "troublemakers" that must be "neutralised" and "destroyed" in the ANCYL.

The first action is to suspend known influential opponents and investigate trumped-up charges of misconduct, to prevent them from standing for elections.

The league's Eastern Cape task team coordinator Thabo Matiwane and Oliver Tambo regional secretary Mziwonke Ndabeni were recently suspended and replaced with Zuma loyalists.

Zizi Kodwa, the league's national spokesman, says the two were ill-disciplined, acted against the organisation's decisions and also insulted the national leadership on radio.

But ANCYL's OR Tambo regional chairman Mpendulo Stoyile, insists Matiwane and Ndabeni were being targeted for their pro-Mbeki stance.

With Willy Madisha now axed as Cosatu president, the future of other "troublesome leaders" also hang in the balance.

The SACP has already sidelined some members sympathetic to Mbeki in Limpopo and has set up an interim provincial leadership under Pandelani Ramagoma

But the SACP in North West has adopted a more flexible approach and denounced the lists, maintaining ANC processes should be left to the party.

"The SACP will not enter into the debate of the ANC list, but is mandated by council to interact with the leadership," says Madoda Sambatha, SACP provincial secretary.

He says North West favours the election of a united ANC provincial executive council.

"We call on those at the forefront of the development of lists to desist from these acts as they are divisive. The ANC deserves better," says Sambatha.

He deplored the harsh treatment and purging of SACP members who hold different views.

Leaders like Sambatha may show flexibility, but the silent purge continues ahead of the 2009 elections.

A pro-Zuma source, who prefers to remain anonymous, says: "By 2009 the right leaders will have been elected in the ANCYL, PECs and all ANC, Cosatu and SACP structures, top echelons of government will have been filled with our people and the Scorpion will be history."

Aubrey Matshiqi, a political analyst at the Centre for Policy Studies, says the purge was to be expected.

"Firstly, we cannot pretend that Polokwane did not happen. The tensions that divided the ANC since 2005 will not simply disappear. There is an expectation that the victorious faction should be represented in positions of influence and that is what is happening," he says.

Matshiqi says the Zuma camp will not wait for Mbeki's term to end in 2009, but will purge his allies until they fully entrench themselves.

"But this does not mean that the Zuma camp is united. There are cracks emerging already.

"There may be some who did not want Zuma as head of state. So in 2009, he will be facing opposition not only from the Mbeki side, but also from within his own faction," Matshiqi says.

He says Zuma's alliance with the Left is bound to crumble because they have nothing in common.

"This new alliance between Zuma and the Left is not ideological. They came together to remove Mbeki. Zuma is closer to Mbeki than he is to Blade Nzimande ideologically."

Matshiqi, like other political analysts, maintains that Cosatu and the SACP are worried that Zuma wants to keep the Gear economic strategy.

Another anonymous analyst says: "I am sure Cosatu and the SACP are still strategising about their response to Zuma's Gear statement.

They are waiting for the right time.

Remember that Zuma was never their real favourite, but he was convenient to use to achieve the objective to oust Mbeki."

He says even neutral leaders like Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya and Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan, don't see Zuma as suitable president of the country.

The Left also does not trust Kgalema Motlanthe, ANC deputy president. They think he is too soft, level-headed and unpredictable.