Motlanthe's ANC drive gathering steam

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. Picture: SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - With just 20 days to go until ANC branches start nominating who they want to lead the party there are strong indications the group behind Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is gaining momentum and President Jacob Zuma will face a stiff challenge from his deputy.

It has been reported that several ANC heavyweights met last week and decided Motlanthe would be the face of their so-called Anyone But Zuma (ABZ) campaign, but officials will not confirm this on the record.

It appears Motlanthe’s camp is becoming more organised political analyst Somadoda Fikeni says this is partly because of mistakes which have happened on Zuma’s watch.

“And now outside the textbook saga, as well as the Marikana [incident], it seemed to have given space and momentum to the groups which are preparing to come to the fore in October,” Fikeni says.

Motlanthe’s campaign is reportedly gathering strengthen because former national police commissioner Bheki Cele is campaigning against Zuma in KwaZulu-Natal.

Cele, who was once a close ally of Zuma, was dismissed by the President earlier this year. The President had set up a commission of inquiry into Cele’s fitness to hold office following claims he signed dodgy lease deals worth R1.6 billion.

KZN is the ANC’s largest province by votes and is seen as a stronghold for Zuma.

Fikeni says what happens in the province will be key to the presidential race.

“Once [the province] starts fragmenting, even if Zuma retains the majority, it could pose a serious challenge because it would then give confidence to other provinces.”

But Zuma’s supporters are likely to work hard to make sure KZN stays fully behind.