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2012: If Zuma’s replaced, who should take his place?

Read an interesting article today on the Mail & Guardian and was moved to pen this arrogant opinion.

I’m happy to see that people within the movement realise that the current ANC leadership has put it in a precarious position in terms of intellectual weight. As the Mail & Guardian reported, “there is a general sense between comrades that the ANC, under Zuma’s leadership, has marginalised intellectuals and capable leaders in the party,” said a member of Paul Mashatile’s inner circle.

“The current crop of leaders lack depth and are unable to articulate ANC policy in line with the Polokwane resolutions.”

I will outline a list of people I believe should be considered for the ANC presidency and consequently of the country. Perhaps the movement should also look outside the obvious names. I’ve put a list of the obvious names and other names that should be obvious but aren’t: Zola Skweyiya, Tokyo Sexwale, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Joel Netshitenzhe and Trevor Manuel

1: Zola Skweyiya one of the last few remaining truly ANC men should be considered. Unfortunately he doesn’t have the necessary backing within the ANC. He is a man that speaks his mind and is unafraid. He is one of the more senior members of the party and one of its most respected members. I don’t think that he should be pushed out of hand without any serious considerations. Few people can fault him as a man of integrity or for his intellectual grit.

2: Tokyo Sexwale seems to want the presidency so much that it makes me suspicious. Having said that, I am not opposed to his suggestion that the ANC ought to employ the American system of primaries where people vying for the presidency should go around the country debating and being voted for by the general membership of the party. The only drawback to this is that the candidate with the most money will have an advantage purely because his or her message will reach further and wider simply because of economics. I have never been convinced by Sexwale. Charisma is not enough.

3: Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is another option but he was rather non-descript when he became president after president Mbeki was asked to step down. He would be a unifying figure though and he is well-respected. As a former secretary-general of the ANC he would be familiar with much of the workings of the ANC and its weaknesses. I do believe that he would be given this position simply because of his seniority. When he was president and was on a WEF panel with the Brazilian president and others, he seemed not to belong. Same as our current president who also seems to be out of depth when on such panels.

4: According to the Mail & Guardian, Gauteng ANC chair Paul Mashatile and his supporters want Joel Netshitenzhe to take over the position of secretary-general from Gwede Mantashe. He would be excellent in that position. There is no doubt. He is certainly a far better option than Fikile Mbalula. Netshitenzhe is more measured, calm, thoughtful, has a long-term view and is less prone to populism than Mbalula. Fikile is not ready to be elevated to such a position. He needs to mellow a bit before such an elevation takes place.

Having said that, I do believe Netshitenzhe would make an excellent ANC president too. He is disciplined and understands ANC process, perhaps better than anyone else. He, like Mbeki trained under the great Oliver Tambo. It is often said that he hates the spotlight and is unlikely to accept such a nomination. He prefers working in the background. If and when he is called, he would be an excellent choice. He should not be overlooked just because he is not a loud voice.

5: Finally, the man no one speaks about when it comes to leadership of the ANC, Trevor Manuel, the former finance minister. He is energetic and has presided over the longest economic expansion this country has seen. It is disturbing that many say that the only thing that would disqualify him from ascending to this position is because he is coloured. As far as I am aware, the ANC is far more mature than that — at least on paper. The ANC should not pay lip service to equality. We should never feel that some people can’t be elected to certain positions in the ANC simply because they are not black.

I hope the view that Manuel could never ascend to the highest peaks in the ANC are just that, comments, and not a prevailing view within the ANC. He is qualified and has certainly earned his stripes. He should certainly be considered well ahead of the likes of Tokyo.