Ido Lekota and Sapa

Ido Lekota and Sapa

The ANC yesterday said it expected its former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki to lobby people quietly ahead of next year's general election.

ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe said yesterday that the party did not expect the two leaders to play such prominent roles as they did when they were presidents "but they are expected to speak to whoever they meet".

"It is a question of disciplined cadres of the movement doing what they should do," Mantashe said.

He was responding to reports that Mandela had indicated that he had retired from politics.

Recent reports also revealed that Mandela had turned down an attempt by the ANC to get him to spearhead its election campaign.

This was in response to the recent development in which a group of ANC dissidents, led by the party's former chairman Mosiuoa Lekota and former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa, started an initiative to form a breakaway party.

In another development the ANC in Gauteng yesterday dismissed the Shikota initiative, saying it would not have any serious impact in the province.

Spokesman Nkeke Kekana said this was because of "the quality of cadreship that the province had".

Kekana said all ANC branches in Gauteng were united and had "recommitted themselves to doing election work".

"Shikota will not have any impact in Gauteng," Kekana said. "The numbers they are throwing around are not branches but individuals."

A warning to the initiative by the normally media-shy former ANC general secretary Cyril Ramaphosa has been seen as an example of the hardening of attitudes against Lekota and Shilowa.

In a newspaper interview at the weekend Ramaphosa warned that Lekota and Shilowa would have to deal with the perception that they wanted to cling to power.

Shikota is expected to hold a national convention at the Sandton Convention Centre this weekend.

But by yesterday there was still confusion as to which political parties had been officially invited to the convention.