ANC Leadership Race is Governed by the Rules of Yesteryear

Zuma and Motlanthe

The ANC leadership battle over who will next lead the 100-year-old organisation is in full swing – and it seems no one can call a ceasefire.
Efforts have been made to manage the race, with the current ANC leaders telling party members that they will be told when they can start discussing who the next batch of leaders should be.

But the party’s members, marching towards Mangaung, where they will elect their new leadership, are defying this restraint. The race has started, many of them say, and they will not wait to make their views felt.

What happened yesterday at the ANC Youth League’s centenary celebrations at Nkowankowa stadium, in Limpopo, confirms this.

Those who attended the event were happy to be seen wearing T-shirts bearing the face of ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, whom they want to take over from party leader Jacob Zuma.

They were also happy to sings songs about Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula being their choice to take over from Gwede Mantashe as ANC secretary-general.

While this was happening, Mantashe yesterday again tried to bring order to a situation that is proving difficult to control.

Speaking after the ANC’s national executive committee meeting yesterday, Mantashe said the ruling party was putting a lot of energy into ensuring that ANC conferences were disciplined and orderly.

But what Mantashe and the ANC should realise is that times have changed and the ruling party now operates on a different terrain.

Though the ANC cannot allow contention to descend to the gutter, with members behaving as they wish, some of its traditions should be looked at and changed to suit the current realities.

Open the leadership race and let party members and the public enrich the outcome. It is already a feature of dinner-table conversation and attempts to manage it will just push the expression of opinion underground.