So maybe the TM-JZ race is tighter than we thought, and it isn't "JZ's to lose". But I don't know if nominations accurately represent overall support, or indeed how the branch representation works at the electoral conference (not all 650,000 members trek to Limpopo to vote you see). Do provinces vote in blocs? Or do individual branches vote however they like? Hmmm - maybe Andy Faull can help!
AS PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki told media in Namibia yesterday that the African National Congress (ANC) would reject leaders who sought political positions by campaigning publicly, businessman Tokyo Sexwale was taking an early lead among candidates seen as providing a “third way” in the ruling party’s presidential race.
Mbeki, who was on a state visit to Namibia, told the SABC yesterday it was against ANC tradition to campaign openly. He said that leaders who were doing so would be rejected by the party at the elective national conference next month.
He also repeated his willingness to stand for re-election as leader of the ANC if the party asked him . “If, in the nominations process, the membership of the ANC says we want Thabo Mbeki to continue to be president of the ANC, you can’t say no,” he said.
“Indeed, if the membership of the ANC feels that I should be the president of the ANC, I’m saying it’s within the culture and traditions of the ANC, and I understand them very well.”
Business Day independently verified that Sexwale ha d secured more than a dozen presidential nominations from branches in the party’s Waterbe rg region in Limpopo. Sexwale was on a whirlwind presidential campaign trail in the run-up to the ANC’s conference next month.
A Sexwale lobbyist in Limpopo said yesterday he had managed to gain support in the region by “weakening” an already “disillusioned” Mbeki support base.
“The simple fact is that TM (Thabo Mbeki) has not done enough as ANC president — the party is on its knees, as the country’s president — our people are still living in poverty. They have bought into the Sexwale dream.
“He told us to hold our leaders to account,” the source said.
But the race continues to be dominated by Mbeki and the party’s deputy president, Jacob Zuma.
Steven Friedman, a political analyst at the Institute for Democracy in SA (Idasa), said although Sexwale “needed” an entire ANC province to support him before “being considered” for a presidential nomination, the more nominations he got “the more seriously” he would be taken.
In Eastern Cape, the ANC’s strongest province, 345 of 468 branches had finalised their nominations for the party’s presidential race. A senior ANC leader in the province told Business Day that of the branches that had voted, 80% favoured an Mbeki third term.
“Seventy-three percent of the branches have completed their branch general meetings.
“Mbeki has about 270 nominations for president and Zuma about 80 nominations for president. That is how it stands. We have the big picture but not the full picture,” the source said.
Although Zuma only had about 20% support in the province, he had made inroads into what had traditionally been an Mbeki stronghold. Of the ANC’s 2700 branches, 468 were in Eastern Cape.
Friedman said Mbeki’s support among Eastern Cape ANC structures gave the “first indication” of how the province’s 906 delegates would vote in the party’s poll.
“This indicates that Mbeki’s support in the province is stronger than we have been led to believe up until now,” Friedman said.
He said this posed the question whether Zuma’s Eastern Cape support was real or had “all been hype” .
However, branch nominations are more public declarations than the secret ballot that would be used should the ANC’s presidential seat be contested.
In such an election, Eastern Cape would have 906 votes, KwaZulu-Natal 608, Limpopo 400, Gauteng 354, Free State 363, Mpumalanga 325, North West 280, Northern Cape 220 and Western Cape 219. With Reuters