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The Southern Slug Fest

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Jacob Zuma ANC

It’s only a few weeks to the much anticipated African National Congress (ANC) leadership race. The number of people who want to be president has grown – unheard of in the 105-year history of the embattled ANC, the oldest party on the continent. President Jacob Zuma, who anointed his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, expressed dismay at the number of candidates who want to replace him. But the party veteran and former acting president, Kgalema Motlanthe, thinks there’s nothing wrong.

“It’s actually an anomaly and I suppose it is also a sign of state of health of the ANC because these contenders are members of the National Executive Committee (NEC0, which issued a directive at the beginning of the year that nobody should mention any names,” says Motlanthe.

Dlamini-Zuma, the former Africa Union chairperson and the country’s former foreign affairs, health and home affairs minister, and Cyril Ramaphosa, the Deputy President of South Africa, are the hot contenders. Ahead of the elective conference, starting on December 16 in Johannesburg, ANC members are at loggerheads. Motlanthe decried the premature announcement of contenders and says it goes against party tradition.

Zweli Mkhize, the Treasurer-General of the party, is favored as a second choice by supporters of Dlamini-Zuma.

“We leave everything to the branches to select their leadership and we make ourselves available. I still intend to be part of that leadership, and therefore we believe that as that collective that will emerge, we will be able to work together to focus on issues that will help to build the economy and ensure good governance,” Mkhize told FORBES AFRICA.

Gwede Mantashe, the party’s Secretary General and one of the most powerful members of the NEC, said the number of contenders was ridiculous, during his address of OR Tambo memorial lecture in September.

“It’s ridiculous because we are an organization, we know one another and we know our capabilities. It’s not just a question of coin tossing,” says Mantashe.

Kgalema Motlanthe

Kgalema Motlanthe (Photo by Getty Images)

The ANC has been divided since the 2007 elective conference in Polokwane, in the Limpopo province, where former President Thabo Mbeki, who had hinted at a third term, lost to Zuma, the man he fired as Deputy President in 2005. Since then, competing factions sought control of the party. It continued at the elective conference in 2012, in Mangaung, in the Free State, where Zuma easily defeated Motlanthe’s faction.

“The eradication of factionalism is going to be a long process because it is not just a once-off process; it is going to be something that is going to be linked into rebuilding the values, political education and bringing back party education. There’s also action to those who are involved in corruption, those who are arrogant and those who are not serving the community. All those need to be acted upon so that people can be convinced the ANC is working on some of the things it objected to,” says Mkhize.

ANC is riven by all kinds of scandal; from thousands of illegal members in KwaZulu-Natal, the political murders of whistle-blowers and the leaked Gupta family emails implicating ministers in so-called state capture – that is the takeover of government by private business.

“The ANC has been in power for 23 years and what has happened; corruption is very rife, the generosity and selflessness of former freedom fighters has been turned into greed and desire for the acquisition of material benefits which of course creates a sense of grievance in a majority of people who felt left out. Many of our people are not asking for pity, they are asking for opportunities so they can do for themselves what others are doing for themselves. The number of people without jobs has increased,” says Motlanthe.

“When the Constitution was crafted we hoped we would always have people of Mandela’s strong character in office. Now we know better.”

Whoever emerges victorious in December will be put forward as the ANC candidate for the general election in 2019. The party needs a good one if it is to cling to power against the growing opposition.

“It’s a moot question whether the ANC will retain power beyond the December conference. I don’t know if the new leadership of the ANC that will be elected will understand that or whether they will think by using more slogans you can win people, or a well-couched policy position, will crack it. People go by their lived experience. It will take some doing,” says Motlanthe.

The pros and cons of the main candidates:

Cyril Ramaphosa – As the Deputy President of the country and the ANC, it is expected he should be the next man in line. The killings of 34 miners in Marikana in 2012 affected Ramaphosa’s popularity in South Africa. He was a shareholder in Lonmin, the mining company that operated Marikana. But he’s seen as a business-minded candidate and maybe a little too close to the boardroom for the unions.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – She is one of the longest serving parliamentarians, appointed in 1994 by President Nelson Mandela, she held a string of ministerial posts. Soon after serving as the chairperson of the African Union, Dlamini-Zuma was again sworn in as the Member of Parliament. The fact that she’s the ex-wife of President Zuma, she’s viewed as a proxy of her former husband who could yet face 783 criminal charges.  Dlamini-Zuma could be South Africa’s first female president.

Zweli Mkhize – He is the Treasurer-General of the ANC NEC and for a long time was an ally of President Zuma until he announced his interest to contest for his position. He is one of the favorites of the biggest ANC constituency of KwaZulu-Natal. The fact that he’s vying for the same support base as Dlamini-Zuma will make it tough.

Baleka Mbete – She is the Chairwoman of the NEC and was appointed Speaker of the National Assembly in 2014. Mbete was previously endorsed by ANC Women’s League, but she’s no longer their candidate since Dlamini-Zuma was endorsed early this year.

Lindiwe Sisulu – She’s one of surprise packages. The minister of housing is the daughter of the late Walter and Albertina Sisulu, both ANC stalwarts. ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu and opposition leader Julius Malema called her “politically immature” but she has solid cabinet experience and a famous name.

Jeff Radebe – He is seen as an outsider to lead the ANC. Since 2014, he has served as the Minister in the Presidency. As a cabinet minister, he has served in different portfolios since President Mandela in 1994. In late June, Radebe accepted a nomination from ANC Midvaal, in Gauteng, but ever since then is the quiet candidate whom many are not giving a chance.

Additional reporting by Thobile Hans

Current Affairs

Why Zimbabwe Is Not There Yet

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Despite the ample investment opportunities in Zimbabwe, post-election setbacks challenge its economic recovery

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First African Elected Female Head of State Urges Women to Be Bold

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has an iconic status in Africa and the world. As the first elected female head of state in Africa, she served as the leader of Liberia for two elected terms.

Those terms saw Liberia’s slow and steady march from what was considered a pariah state to a country with what the Mo Ibrahim Foundation calls a “trajectory of progress” that has helped transform its economy, survive the shock of Ebola, and restructure public institutions to respond to the needs of the people.

READ MORE: The People’s President

It is only fitting that FORBES WOMAN AFRICA gets to meet the Nobel Peace Prize winner in Rwanda, a country known for its high representation of women in Parliament, and where Sirleaf is awarded the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership at a special ceremony.

Q. Please share your thoughts on the African Union (AU) self-funding reform goal, the Kaberuka Proposal.
The dependency of the AU on external sources has been the subject of debate for many years, and the thinking of our leaders is that it is better to finance our operations by ourselves and alleviate pressure and dictation from these external sources. On the other hand, we know that to have financial autonomy, every country must be able to contribute consistently. So, the crux of the reform is to change the payment formula and make sure everyone knows they have to pay their part.

When it comes to the Kaberuka suggestion, it meets our objective of financing our organization ourselves. However, it does place a burden on the poorer states… So, our position with the Kaberuka plan is to study it some more so when we commit, we do not fall into arrears. We want to see the reform implemented, and for it to include cost-reduction in structural aspects such as travel and positions etc., thus reducing the burden on poorer countries.

Q: Will Africa really be able to tackle illicit financial flows? And with women being conspicuously absent from financial decision-making, yet being the greatest losers on such issues, how do we tackle these discrepancies?
We have to become more accountable and pass stringent mandates in institutions, as well as instill practical capacity to understand the complexities of these financial transactions. Also, we must implement a legal system that will enforce against such flow violations.

Access for women is difficult even in the case of legitimate flows. Even with a growing manufacturing sector and agri-industrial activities usually manned by women, access is still limited, for rural women particularly.

There is a big effort being put in by different regional institutions; in Liberia’s case, GIABA, the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa, has been analyzing the flows and determining what is illicit.
But it is up to women to stand up and put other women in leadership roles, because the record is clear: women are more credit-worthy when it comes to financial transactions, and this suggests the more women there are heading these institutions, the more we can be assured that regulatory laws will be more effective.

READ MORE: ‘Women’s Leadership Is Under Attack Globally’

Q: What are your plans? How would you encourage young women to follow in your footsteps, or even create their own path?
We are establishing the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development. The activities will center around five themes that will promote women in business; women in leadership; women in fragile states; women in migration; and education for women and girls. We will use the life experiences of women who have excelled in these areas. For the young women, I say to all, be self-confident and pursue your goals…Let us be bold as women.

– Interviewed by Laura Rwiliriza

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Prosecution And Praise For Jacob Zuma

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It proved a day short on time in court and big on political posturing and speeches. The former president of South Africa Jacob Zuma’s appearance lasted a mere 10 minutes, on April 6, and the trial postponed until June 8 – yet he managed to make political capital out of his day in court in Durban.

On a bright sunny day in the coastal city of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province of South Africa, the former head of state stood trial in his own court. Almost 10 years ago, 10 days after this day, 18 charges on 783 counts of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering were dropped against Jacob Zuma by former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Mokotedi Mpshe.

This decision was said to have been based on the recordings of the so-called ‘spy tapes’, which were presented to Mpshe by Zuma’s legal team. And almost a decade later, Zuma stands trial in the same court for the same charges which were reinstated by now NPA boss Shaun Abrahams.

The court was packed to full capacity with only 25 journalist allowed inside. Media came from all over the country, the continent and the world. Night vigils and pickets were held outside the night before the court case and on the day the case took place, led by different organizations supporting the former president. These organizations included Transform RSA, Black First Land First led by Andile Mngxitama, student groups from various KZN universities and members of the African National Congress (ANC) ruling party who claimed not to be operating under the party’s name.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC made an announcement a week before the trial that members of the party who liked to support Msholozi, as Zuma is affectionately called, could do so in their own personal capacity and not wear any party regalia. However, ANC members who attended actually did the opposite and when asked if they were defying their own party, countered “you cannot have an ANC without Jacob Zuma”.

Thousands of supporters in front of the Durban High Court chanted struggle songs and praised Zuma.

Zuma addressed the crowds after spending close to 15 minutes inside the court room.

“I keep asking them what have I done for them to keep trying to bring me down but they have no answers but one day they will,” he said.

Among the top-ranking ANC officials in KZN was the province’s MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Sihle Zikalala who vowed to aid in defending the former president.

What is clear is that the ANC in KZN is still divided, with its members committing to prove Zuma’s innocence and unseating current president Ramaphosa before the 2019 elections. On the other hand, some others are calling for his prosecution by the court of law.

This case may take years to be concluded and political wars in the province may not augur well for the ANC.

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