Zuma Stays in Contention for Top ANC Post
Deputy President Jacob Zuma's bid for the presidency of the African National Congress (ANC) in 2007 has not been ruled out by the organisation, despite mounting setbacks caused by the fraud and corruption trial of his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.
The ANC said yesterday that a new national executive committee would be elected at the party's national conference in 2007, and that the nomination of candidates for those elections would begin in ANC branches a few months before the conference.
Zuma, who is deputy president of the ANC, is popular and could stand for the post of ANC president in 2007 if he survives the fallout from the Shaik trial.
His possible election as ANC president in 2007 could pave the way for his run for the country's presidency in 2009, when President Thabo Mbeki steps down.
ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama said yesterday: "The ANC's candidates for national and provincial elections, including our candidate for South African president, will be selected through an internal list process in the months preceding the 2009 general election. The nominations will again begin within ANC branches."
He was reading a statement prepared by the ANC's national executive committee following a meeting at the weekend.
The committee resolved not to begin the nominations process for the ANC's and SA's presidency now, saying this was "not the right time".
The statement said: "The ANC will, therefore, attend to these matters at the appropriate time, according to established procedures, and within the organisational practices of the movement."
Zuma has received the support of the ANC Youth League and enjoys the apparent backing of Zwelinzima Vavi, secretary general of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), in his bid for the presidency of both the ANC and SA.
Zuma's name is at the centre of the state's case against Shaik, whom the state accuses of having had a corrupt relationship with Zuma.
The possible conviction of Shaik could derail Zuma's presidential bid, despite his popular support within the ANC, Cosatu and the South African Communist Party.
According to the ANC's constitution, it is a serious offence for ANC members to "seek or accept any bribe for performing or for not performing any task".
It is also a serious offence for a member to be convicted and "sentenced to a term of imprisonment without the option of a fine for any serious nonpolitical offence".
Ngonyama said the ANC's decision not to begin the process of nominating candidates for the 2007 conference early did not mean that people could not engage in the succession debate.
"People can debate any issue. It is generally not within the ANC's culture to gag anybody. We fully understand that many people would be interested to know who is the leader of this country," the spokesman said.
With acknowledgements to Jacob Dlamini and the Business Day.