By Peroshni Govender -
SOUTH Africa’s President Jacob Zuma is the favourite to win a second term to lead the ruling ANC in a race dominated by factional politics instead of policy reforms for Africa’s most powerful economy.
More than a dozen insiders in the ruling African National Congress said that Zuma had the race in hand even though there are strong factions in the party who want him out and could make things difficult. “It’s Zuma’s race to lose,” said one senior ANC member.
The winner of December’s party vote is almost certain to be its nominee in the 2014 presidential election. Since the ANC enjoys virtual one-party rule, its nominee is almost assured of winning the five year term as president.
The race will be fought at the local level with little attention paid to warnings from all three of the major global credit ratings agencies who have said the economy is on the wrong track under Zuma, posing long-term risks to stability.
The battle to lead the 100-year-old ANC according to party insiders is a two-horse race between Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. Zuma has a commanding lead in delegates and unless Motlanthe make huge strides by the electoral conference in December, Zuma should secure victory.
Motlanthe, or any other candidate, is not going to openly declare their challenge to Zuma due to a party culture where raising one’s hand too early is tantamount to political suicide.
The race will be fought behind closed doors, leaving out a public that has grown increasingly angry at the ANC for not doing enough to fix a broken education system, failing hospitals, rampant poverty and chronic unemployment.
“Motlanthe has strong support but it’s all about timing and we want to make sure that his chances are good before nominations open,” said a source close to the deputy president.
The ANC, a former liberation movement that became the ruling party when the white-minority apartheid regime ended 18 years ago, is a broad-tent political grouping with members ranging from hard core communists to business moguls.
Its consensus-building approach has stifled radical ideas from the left that include nationalising mines and seizing white-owned farmland.