The emergence of more than five ANC leaders contesting for party presidency provides a stern test for the party. The situation must be handled carefully to avoid any further splits, KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial executive committee member and spokesman Mdumiseni Ntuli has warned.
Delivering the Saul Msane memorial lecture at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, he told the audience it was unprecedented to see such a number of people standing for party president ahead of the ANC elective conference in December.
While Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa were the only two names mooted for the top position earlier, other names had since been bandied about, including Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, and ANC veteran stalwart Matthews Phosa.
“This is a broader scheme of dividing the movement; you can’t go to a conference with eight or nine ANC leaders all thinking that they should be president. As for us in KZN, whether it is a blessing or curse, we do not know, but we are the hotbed of many of those seeking to be party president. Almost in every region of ours in the province there is somebody harbouring such ambitions,” said Ntuli.
He claimed that “individuals with money” would seek to divide the ANC, especially since the party had prioritised land redistribution and “sharing in the country’s wealth” as its primary targets. The unity of the ANC remained important and needed to be safeguarded against “capitalists” who wanted to weaken the party and “derail the revolution”.
“We must question why after 20 years of freedom when going to conference we have eight or nine people who, without the mandate from their branches, are saying they are ready to lead the ANC.
After 20 years since the attainment of democracy, people were increasingly becoming impatient with unfulfilled promises and it was important for the ANC to give hope for a better life or risk losing power as other liberation movements had in Africa.