18 December 2012

South Africa: The Rocket That Failed to Launch

Photo: Presidency
President Jacob Zuma.


We can (sadly) conclude that Kgalema Motlanthe will not be elected as President of the African National Congress. From day one, delegates from all over the country were already singing and cheering for their preferred presidential candidates. Interested in hearing a different tune, I walked around and it was clear that Jacob Zuma was in everyone's rhymes and dance moves.

More importantly, three days into the conference, there has been very little lobbying from Kgalema's camp. There seems to be no strategy at all. It there is any strategy; 'roll over and die' best describes it. There are a few reasons why Kgalema Motlanthe will not win. Amongst many is Jacob Zuma's coordinated crusade to clutch all possible King Makers to him. The foxy Ace Magashule from the Free State is one of Zuma's King Makers. Early in the game, Ace pulled his card (an ace?) by declaring his allegiance to Zuma in May - a month before the Free State Provincial Conference. Seven months ago Zuma pocketed the Free State; seven months later many more provinces have followed.

Zuma understands this well. His decisive win at this conference will partly be secured because he not only made his intentions clear, but he also has the knack of drawing in King Makers and key allies. Kgalema, by contrast, does not get this. Calls for him to run for President have mainly come from the fringes of the ANC. No real ANC powerhouse in the form of a league or individual punted him, except the infantile ANC Youth League. Even their punting was treated with contempt.

Then of course the various vocal groupings (with little lobbying on the ground) have punted Motlanthe's name on rooftops. Forces of Change, Friends of the Youth League and the Anybody But Zuma groups have crippled Motlanthe's campaign in ways more than one, like their inability to lobby actively on the ground for him

For any rocket to launch it needs a base and Kgalema unfortunately, does not have one.

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