As the ANC comes under pressure for a compromise candidate to avoid a costly split in the organisation amid fears losing the 2019 national election, new developments around replacements for various key positions would emerge, a political analyst has said.
Analyst Steven Friedman said it was not surprising that Police Minister and ANC national organiser Fikile Mbalula suggested the name of Gauteng Premier David Makhura as his preferred replacement for Gwede Mantashe as party secretary-general.
Mbalula this week surprised all when he announced his support for Makhura to take over from the Luthuli House-based Mantashe, who occupies a crucial position that is equivalent to a managing director or chief executive of an organisation. Mantashe has made it clear he does not wish to stand for re-election at the end of the year.
In a series of tweets posted on Thursday, Mbalula described Makhura as a “good leader” and a “hard-working and honest comrade”.
“Makhura has all the ingredients you like in a good leader. If somebody asked I’ll say David Makhura will make a good secretary-general for the ANC,” he wrote on Twitter.
Mbalula went further to appeal to the ANC Youth League to rally behind Makhura as a replacement to Mantashe.
In their reactions to the Mbalula tweets, analysts Steven Friedman and Dr Somadoda Fikeni put the issue into perspective.
“There are strong pressures within the ANC for a compromise betweeen the factions because there could be a split if they don’t,” Friedman said.
Fikeni said Mbalula’s sudden support for a different candidate for secretary-general as opposed to Ace Magashule, who was proposed by the ANC Youth League, was due to his historic political differences with Magashule as a Free State homeboy.
The two had not seen eye to eye politically for years, something the analyst described as a “story in itself”.
“Makhura has never been a factional leader. For that reason he is seen as a compromise candidate by some in the current leadership succession debate. It should not be surprising that his name would crop up from time to time in the run-up to the December ANC conference,” Fikeni said.
He said young leaders such as Mbalula may want to dispel the perception that they are part of the state capture network.
They would want to dissociate themselves from the Gupta family or the leaked emails that tainted the ANC government by making statements that indicate where they stand with regards to President Jacob Zuma.
“As young people, Mbalula and others may have ambitions and therefore they would not like to be tainted by these reports around state capture,” he said.
The ANC’s Gauteng spokesperson, Motalatale Modiba, said such matters were discussed by the ANC and its NEC resolved that the constitutional structures should continue discussing leadership principles guided by the Through the Eye of the Needle document.
“In addition, structures are expected to link leadership principles to names of possible candidates for the ANC NEC.
“Guided by this NEC decision and, after thorough internal discussion, ANC Gauteng province will at the correct time announce its preferred candidates for the ANC NEC. Comrade Makhura remains very determined to focus on serving the people of Gauteng up to the end of his term as Premier in 2019,” Modiba said. – email@example.com