[DEBATE] : Succession battle takes toll on ANC
grinker at mweb.co.za
Thu Nov 22 12:44:58 GMT 2007
Succession battle takes toll on ANC
Karima Brown, 22 November 2007, Business Day
THE political overview presented to the African National Congress at the
weekend meeting of its national executive committee (NEC) reflects
"consequences" of the fact a successor to party president Thabo Mbeki has
not been anointed, say analysts.
In the very frank paper, not released to the public, Joel Netshitenzhe,
senior party thinker and NEC member and a close Mbeki ally, said: "Quite
clearly, the NEC - the highest decision-making body between conferences -
has failed to resolve the divisive issues that have plagued the movement in
the past two-and-a half years."
The ANC's presidential race is dominated by the two frontrunners, Mbeki and
ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma.
Netshitenzhe said not addressing the divisions would be tantamount to
"bury(ing) our heads in the sand". It needed to be acknowledged that "the
Mbeki-Zuma template has become part of the frame of reference beyond the
>From Mbeki's many public statements on the succession battle, and apparent
insistence on holding on to the ANC leadership for a third time, the
president has created the impression that the issue of succession cannot be
openly debated, unless the debate is framed by predetermined parameters.
"The subtext of Joel's overview seems to suggest the ANC can't have an
election which will decide who is the party's next president and that it
will have to find consensus on an individual that can be negotiated,"
political analyst Prof Adam Habib said.
Steven Friedman, a political analyst at the policy think-tank Idasa,
concurred. He said Netshitenzhe's overview reflected the result of the fact
that a successor had not been selected .
"There seems to be no centre of authority left, there are no elders such as
(Oliver) Tambo, (Nelson) Mandela or Govan Mbeki, which leaves the party with
one of two options.
"One option is to say 'we have a contestation, let's manage it.' The second
option is to admit that they need a compromise candidate," Friedman said.
Netshitenzhe also said that, "except during elections, the ANC's engagement
with the mass terrain is woeful. This relates to issues such as workers'
rights, consumer issues, hurdles faced by SMMEs (small, medium and micro
enterprises) anticrime and anticorruption campaigns and so on."
Habib said this was indicative of an inertia within the party that had led
to a "divided state".
"He is telling the national leadership what shape the party is in as a
result of this fight. But it's not as if they don't know it. The key thing
is he also has to tell the nation this, as it affects not just the ANC but
the state," he said.
The criminal justice and intelligence agencies were deeply divided, which
often led to an inability to make proper decisions, Habib said. Netshitenzhe
seemed to be suggesting that unless a compromise was reached, the ANC would
end up the big loser.
Netshitenzhe's comment that "income inequalities had worsened and that the
share of workers' income as a proportion of national income has declined"
was, he said, a "concession" to Zuma's leftist backers in the Congress of
South African Trade Unions and South African Communist Party.
More information about the Debate-list