Zuma a no-show at ANC Gauteng conference

President Jacob Zuma was due to deliver a speech at the closing of the conference.

FILE: South African President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Sapa.

CENTURION, Pretoria - After two days of speculation President Jacob Zuma was a no-show at the ANC's Gauteng conference.

The African National Congress (ANC) in Gauteng's 12th conference began on Friday this week, where new leadership was elected.

Thousands of delegates from across the province have been debating pertinent issues such as e-tolling, water shortages and the e-toll billing crisis. Delegates have also debated how economic transformation targets should be implemented.

Zuma was due to deliver a speech at the closing of the conference but has instead sent another member of the ANC's top leadership structure.

His absence is likely to fuel further speculation that the President is at odds with the Gauteng leadership.

The Gauteng ANC's top five have downplayed suggestions that their relationship with Zuma has soured.

This was first suggested after the province backed Kgalema Motlanthe to replace Zuma at the Mangaung conference.

Earlier the ANC communication officials confirmed that Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte would deliver a political address because Zuma has other engagements.

On Saturday the President visited the Eastern Cape where he played chess with students sponsored by the Department of Public Works.

Re-elected chairperson Paul Mashatile and his provincial top five were re-elected on Friday with the only new entry being former health MEC Hope Papo. Mashatile will lead the ANC in Gauteng over the next four years and will be at the helm of its election strategy in 2016.

On Saturday one of the main focus points was to find out how to facilitate the entry of black people into the mainstream market.

Mashatile said several plans around infrastructure, ownership and sites of investment were being discussed in closed commissions.

Mashatile says the ANC wants 49 percent of mining ownership to be transferred to black people, but the focus would be on production.

"The spirit of it is that we need to increase the ownership, particularly by the previously disadvantaged people, to own companies in major industries, not only mining."

He says this would be to speed up a fundamental change.

"So we won't be happy if suddenly 49 percent of mining companies owned by black people and then they mine and send all the minerals abroad."