Monday, November 26, 2007

Dead Heat in South African Leadership Contest

by Joe sims

It appears the nominations process in the race for the next president of South Africa’s African National Congress has produced a veritable dead heat, with Jacob Zuma securing a slight lead. According to press reports, Zuma has been nominated in five provinces and Mbeki four. A News/24 story reads:

“Zuma now leads the nominations race, with five provinces supporting him to Mbeki's four. In KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma got 580 votes, Mbeki nine. In Gauteng, Zuma walked away with 263 votes, Mbeki 94. Nationally, Zuma received a total of 2 270 votes and Mbeki, 1 396. Zuma also garnered support from Mpumalanga, the Free State and the Northern Cape. The ANC Youth League gave him their backing last week. Mbeki won nominations in the Eastern and Western Cape, Limpopo and the North West.”

Officers for the ANC are nominated at local branch meetings and confirmed by provincial conferences. Delegates then go to the national convention pledged to a particular candidate. However, it seems that just as in US party conventions, ‘pledges” are not iron-clad and anything could happen. The ANC Women’s League is supposed to nominate its candidate today and it is widely expected Thabo Mbeki will be their candidate (the women’s and youth league’s are considered “provinces” for the purpose of national conventions). The two candidates will then have five provinces each.

Should Zuma win the presidency of the ANC and later become the standard bearer in the 2009 election it is likely that the current policies of the country will not change significantly. On the other hand, new political processes will surely be set in motion by the election. Before any of this happens however, the Limpopo province ANC Congresses must first have its say. It will begin on December 16th and will be covered by this reporter for the PWW and PA. Stay tuned.

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