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We believe Netshitenzhe is worthy, says ANC Veterans’ League on chairperson nomination

We believe Netshitenzhe is worthy, says ANC Veterans’ League on chairperson nomination
From left: President Cyril Ramaphosa (Photo: Gallo Images / Volksblad / Mlungisi Louw) | Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (Photo: Richard Bord / Getty Images for Cannes Lions) | Joel Netshitenzhe (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle)

Despite not publicly showing any interest in serving in the ANC’s top six, Joel Netshitenzhe is being backed by the Veterans’ League to become the party’s next national chairperson.

Senior ANC member Joel Netshitenzhe has been keeping a low profile at a time when most of his comrades are working on getting endorsements from branches and are visibly on the campaign trail.

Despite this, Netshitenzhe has received support from the ANC’s Veterans’ League to become the next national chairperson, a position held by Gwede Mantashe.

A seasoned politician who at one stage was considered to be next in line for the party’s top job, Netshitenzhe is a former political strategist for former president Thabo Mbeki. He served as head of the Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) from 1998 to 2006.

The endorsement by the league is Netshitenzhe’s first. He is the executive director of the Mapungubwe Institute and a member of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC).

“This is precisely why we chose him — he is not on a campaign trail,” said Deputy Convenor Mavuso Msimang. “We nominated people who we believe are worthy.”

Ramaphosa backed, despite Phala Phala

The Veterans’ League also wants Cyril Ramaphosa to win a second term, despite Msimang calling for him to step down because of the Phala Phala farmgate scandal.

Ramaphosa was also endorsed by the Women’s League Task Team, whereas the Youth League preferred Zweli Mkhize.

“I said this in response to the developments of his admitting that there was money [in foreign currency], then he falls short in responding to follow-up questions from the media, hiding behind that the matter was sub judice.

“I would have been sympathetic to him if he said he would let the investigation be complete and then have a say on the matter,” said Msimang. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Mkhize in, Ramaphosa out as ANC ‘young lions’ choose preferred top six

The Veterans’ League nominations for the top six include four women: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (deputy president), Gwen Ramakgopa (secretary-general), Fébé Potgieter (deputy secretary-general) and Barbara Creecy (treasurer).

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

Potgieter has also been endorsed by the Northern Cape provincial executive committee for the secretary-general position. Other senior party members tipped to occupy this position include National Executive Committee members Fikile Mbalula, Senzo Mchunu and Malusi Gigaba.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “ANC general manager Fébé Potgieter remains coy on secretary-general nominations

The Veterans’ League usually has 40 delegates at the national elective conference, but there are indications from both Msimang and convenor Snuki Zikalala that the number of delegates may be revised to 25. They said the exact number would be confirmed in the coming days as the party finalised its preparations for the elective conference.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “It was not about a man, or woman’ — Women’s League defends choosing Ramaphosa over Dlamini Zuma in presidency bid

Netshitenzhe told Daily Maverick he would not respond to the nomination yet as he was not aware of it. “I await the formal announcement of nomination because I have not been approached.” 

“We have not yet approached him [Netshitenzhe],” Zikalala confirmed. “We approached Mlambo-Ngcuka and she agreed. We did not see the need to approach others as they have been receiving nominations before.” 

Mlambo-Ngcuka’s nomination was met with criticism from some supporters of the ANC who said she did not qualify because she once left the party to join the Congress of the People (Cope) in 2009

She later resigned from the party in 2011 and told the SABC last year that she had briefly joined Cope, but her heart was with the ANC.

‘Good standing’

Both Msimang and Zikalala defended their candidate, with Msimang saying Deputy President David Mabuza had publicly called for EFF leader Julius Malema to return to the ANC: “There are many others who returned to the ANC and some are serving in strategic positions. She is a member in good standing. I do not see what is strange about nominating Mlambo-Ngcuka.”

The Veterans’ League said she had been an ANC member in good standing for more than 10 years and was therefore eligible to stand for election, based on the ANC’s guidelines for nomination to the NEC.

Zikalala said they did not just nominate women, but had nominated women with a track record of good governance.

“None of them have been found with their hands in the cookie jar,” he said. On the future of the ANC and the decline in electoral support, Zikalala said the party had to come out of the conference strong.

“The ANC does not have any other choice but to survive.” DM

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