Lucrative state tenders, worth hundreds of millions, have emerged as a massive electoral carrot and intimidation tool as the ANC leadership battle hots up.
And KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC’s biggest province and President Jacob Zuma’s home province, has emerged as the epicentre of the battle for the ANC presidency.
With two weeks before the ANC is expected to formally open nominations, the undeclared race for leadership between Zuma and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, reached fever pitch this week with lobby groups ramping up their activities.
The Sunday Tribune has established that important second-tier ANC leaders, provincial and regional chairs, have been strongly lobbied – and those contemplating voting against Zuma have been reminded that they would lose their access to influence government tenders.
“We were told that we would be out in the cold… that we would go hungry,” said one.
The “national coalition”, an informal structure formed to work for the return of Zuma to office, met in KZN this week to ramp up its activities. The coalition was expected to convene in the Northern Cape at the weekend where members were expected to lobby the provincial chairman, John Block.
Sources said Block would be told corruption charges against him would be dropped in return for his support for the Zuma lobby. In KZN fraud and corruption charges were dropped against ANC heavyweights Peggy Nkonyeni and Mike Mabuyakhulu in a case that involves Block. The Sunday Tribune has it on authority that the national coalition includes KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize, Free State Premier Ace Magashule, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza and SACP chairman and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.
In Limpopo, Zuma lobbyists include Joe Paahla and Joe Maswanganyi. In the North West, the national coalition key member is provincial chairman Supra Mahumapelo.
The Sunday Tribune understands that one of the main reasons the pro-Zuma lobby was in KZN was to deal with divisions in what was thought to be a fully Zuma province.
A number of regional leaders have been upset by utterances from Sibongiseni Dlomo, chairman of the eThekwini region, who pronounced the structure would support Zuma’s re-election.
Working for the accession of Motlanthe to power is a group called the “change coalition”, which includes senior leaders from KZN, Gauteng, Limpopo and North West.
The group wants Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale as Motlanthe’s deputy.
The coalition is built around Motlanthe, who is said to have expressed a desire to be ANC president, but not president of SA.
He wants to be an ANC president based at party headquarters Luthuli House, with the mission of building the ANC.
This scenario would be attractive to a running mate – the person who would emerge as ANC deputy president at the Mangaung elective conference. While Sexwale is the front-runner, this position is regarded as “open”.
Several sources revealed members of the change coalition as Motlanthe, Sexwale and leading ANC officials in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KZN, Limpopo and the North West.