South Africa: Mbeki Stalwarts Swept Away in Pro-Zuma Vote

Johannesburg — At least eight cabinet ministers and deputies were axed from the African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee (NEC) last night, as supporters of ANC president Jacob Zuma put their stamp on the party following his dramatic election victory this week.

The ministers and deputies, all of them considered loyalists in the camp of Zuma's election rival, President Thabo Mbeki, failed to win re-election to the ANC's NEC.

Among those who won-relection were Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, whose office yesterday also denied that Manuel would quit public office. However, Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin lost his bid for re-election.

Among other high-profile losers were Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi, Public Service Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, and Provincial Affairs Minister Sydney Mufamadi.

Perhaps the most dramatic loser was Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad.

While much of the focus on the conference has been on the elections for the top-six positions in the party, it is in the NEC where policies are decided. The preponderance of Zuma loyalists now puts his camp firmly in charge of the party's policy direction.

None of the nine ANC provincial premiers made it back on to the NEC as delegates rebelled against Mbeki's centralised style of leadership.

Surprisingly, controversial Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla and Foreign Affairs Minister Nkoszana Dlamini-Zuma, won re-election, largely by virtue of having been included on the Zuma slate. Candidates were voted in or out depending on whether they were on the Mbeki or Zuma slates.

Also retained were Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya, Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan, Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile and Transport Minister Jeff Radebe.

Contrary to speculation, Mbeki's chief strategist Joel Netshitenzhe as well as businessman Cyril Ramaphosa are back on the NEC. Businessman Saki Macozoma, another Mbeki loyalist, lost out.

The principle of gender parity, which was ratified by the conference, saw a number of new faces and unexpected senior women party figures added to the NEC.

They include ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela -- who proved the most popular among the party faithful, garnering the most votes-- former Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo, former Northern Cape education MEC Tina Joemat, and Gauteng education MEC Angie Motshekga.

Former Gauteng safety and security MEC Jesse Duarte made a comeback to national politics.

Western Cape finance MEC Lynne Brown, a close ally of the province's secretary, Mcebisi Skwatsha, who is in the Zuma camp, was also elected. Sankie Mthembi- Mahanyele was the only woman to be re-elected from the former top six of the party.

Close Zuma ally Bathabile Dlamini, the ANC Women's League secretary-general, who swung the league behind Zuma in the run-up to the conference, also made it onto the leadership.

Businessman Tokyo Sexwale, who was number 13 on Zuma's list, was rewarded for stepping down as a national chair nominee in favour of National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete and received overwhelming support for a seat at the ANC's top table.

The 3900 voting delegates elected several Mbeki foes on to the NEC, among them axed spy boss Billy Masetlha, former confidant Ngoako Ramathlodi and former South African National Defence Force chief Siphiwe Nyanda.

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