The ANC in South Africa’s richest province backed Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe last week as its choice for leader of the ruling party, keeping him in the hunt for a position that would tee him up to be president of Africa’s biggest economy.
Report by Reuters
However, Motlanthe refused to immediately seize on the support of African National Congress (ANC) members in Gauteng, the province that includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, as the chance to launch a formal challenge to President Jacob Zuma.
Zuma is firm favourite to win re-election to the helm of the ANC at a party leadership conference next month, despite a slew of scandals and sluggish economic growth in the three years since he won the national presidency in elections.
He has also been criticised for his handling this year of three months of violent labour unrest in the mining sector that included the police killing of 34 striking platinum miners on August 16.
The labour strife dented South Africa’s image with investors and led to downgrades by credit ratings agencies.
Speaking to the foreign media in Pretoria, Motlanthe said he felt “neutral” about the Gauteng backing, adding that he was yet to make up his mind whether or not to run against Zuma.
“I’m still agonising over it,” he said.
Zuma still has a strong backing
Besides Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal — the province with the biggest voting clout in the December ANC election — has come out in support of Zuma, as has the smaller Free State.
Zuma himself became leader of Nelson Mandela’s 100-year-old liberation movement in 2007 after spearheading a grassroots internal campaign to unseat the then president, Thabo Mbeki, who was seen by many ANC members as aloof and too pro-business.