Mbeki Could Tackle Zuma Head-On in 2007 Anc Poll
- From: WWW.AfricanCrisis.Org
[Here we see how Mbeki and Zuma could be challenging each other for the
soul of the ANC in 2007 as the President of the ANC itself. Currently,
Zuma is the Vice President of the ANC as well. But there has been a lot
of talk about Zuma becoming the President of the ANC in 2007. So now it
appears, we will be seeing a struggle inside the ANC itself between Zuma
and Mbeki. Interestingly enough, Zuma looks like he might be the front
PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki says he will consider staying on as African
National Congress (ANC) leader after 2007, potentially pitting himself
against Jacob Zuma in the race for the party's presidency.
Mbeki said yesterday he might think about again running for ANC president
when the party holds its national conference in 2007, where the party
will choose new leaders.
This is the first time Mbeki has publicly made known his willingness to
serve a third term as ANC president.
His comments came at the end of a tumultuous national general council
(NGC) meeting in Pretoria at which delegates gave Zuma a new lease of
The party's constitution places no limit on the number of terms its
president may serve, in contrast to the South African constitution.
But the only people who have so far spoken about the possibility of Mbeki
staying on as ANC leader have been Mbeki supporters such as KwaZulu-Natal
premier S'bu Ndebele.
However, Mbeki insisted last night that he would step down as SA's
president when his term ends in 2009.
Speaking during an interview with the SABC after the end of the NGC,
Mbeki said: "We don't want the professionalisation of power ... where I'm
president for 50 years -- that's out of order."
He said his decision to stay on as ANC president in 2007 would depend on
the "comfort levels" of ANC members and his availability for the job at
If Mbeki decided to run for ANC president in 2007 and assuming that Zuma
was acquitted in his corruption trial, the two men would likely find
themselves up against each other for the post.
Zuma is bidding for the post and his backers in the ANC Youth League and
the ANC's trade union and communist allies have tended to regard Zuma as
automatic frontrunner to succeed Mbeki as both ANC and South African
president. However, this would change if Zuma were running against Mbeki
for the top party post. There is no guarantee that a Zuma challenge
against Mbeki would succeed.
In the event that Mbeki remained ANC president and Zuma became
heir-apparent after 2007 as head of state, this could result in two
centres of political power in the land, something that has caused the ANC
headaches in the past, especially in the provinces.
As ANC president, Mbeki would be in a stronger position to influence the
choice of his successor and his presence in the party would make a Zuma
presidential bid difficult.
Asked if he had a view on the party succession issue, Mbeki said: "I do
have a very firm view. The ANC should not deal with this matter ahead of
2007. It's completely unnecessary. It would be exceedingly unwise and I
would most certainly discourage it very firmly."
Asked whether he should be grooming a successor, Mbeki said the ANC had
never "groomed" anyone for the presidency.
"I don't think we should groom anybody. When the time comes, people will
say 'we trust this one to succeed'," he said.
"We don't want to divert the ANC from its normal business, two-and-a-half
years away from national conference."
Mbeki's comments came after delegates to the council meeting rejected
Zuma's "request" to be relieved of party duties pending the outcome of
The party's national working committee had asked delegates to endorse the
Mbeki also dismissed suggestions the ANC's alliance with the Congress of
South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party
(SACP) would break up. "It isn't going to fall apart. I do not see
circumstances in which it could �-oe I'm quite certain that workers would
say the one party that can address their challenges is the ANC."
He said, however, that tension would remain a feature of the alliance.
"The ANC, as a ruling party, may very well sympathise with worker
concerns, but what about the rest of society? We all have different tasks
and different mandates. It's not the responsibility of Cosatu to find out
what business is saying."
Cosatu and the SACP are firm backers of Zuma and believe a Zuma
presidency would be better disposed towards their concerns.
Meanwhile, Cosatu and the SACP appear to have succeeded in pushing debate
over a dual labour market off the party's agenda at the NGC. The party
resolved to refer the matter to its branches.
However, Mbeki said government had the right to consider economic reforms
and defended the role senior government officials played in policy
making, saying they had better access to information.