Can Jacob Zuma wins ANC Leadership?
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe will go head to head in the battle to lead South Africa’s ruling ANC, after both were nominated by party members.
At a party conference, Motlanthe disregarded calls to avoid an embarrassing internal power struggle, as well as pundits who predict a Zuma landslide, by accepting the nomination.
His decision sets up a night of party voting and jockeying that – thanks to the electoral dominance of the African National Congress, the party that has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid – will very likely decide who rules South Africa until 2019.
As Motlanthe’s name was read out to the 4000-plus ANC delegates gathered for the conference in Bloemfontein on Monday, there were cheers, some boos and rival motioning and singing.
Zuma supporters flashed a two-fingered salute to call for a second Zuma term, while Motlanthe supporters rolled one hand over the other in a gesture calling for change.
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Since taking control of the storied party in 2007, Zuma has been embroiled in a series of scandals, prompting some members of the ANC to agitate for leadership change.
Criticism of his administration reached a crescendo earlier this year when police killed 34 striking miners in one day and it emerged that about $US27 million ($A25 million) of taxpayers’ money had been used to refurbish his private home.
But Motlanthe, a former trade unionist and caretaker president who once considered entering the clergy, makes an unlikely stalking horse.
Despite wanting to lead Africa’s largest economy until the end of the decade, the 63-year-old has yet to make a single public campaign speech.
Delegates say his softly-softly public approach to running has been mirrored in the backrooms of the conference, leaving some supporters aghast.
Party insiders and political analysts give him slim chances of winning.
Voting will begin later in the day and the results are expected late on Monday or early on Tuesday (Tuesday AEDT).