Durban - The ANC on Thursday kicked off its first national executive committee (NEC) meeting of the year with expectations from some political observers that the dominant Cyril Ramaphosa (CR) faction will use it to consolidate its position ahead of key provincial conferences, the national policy conference and lastly the elective conference in December.
The NEC meeting would be divided in two. On Thursday and Friday there would be an ordinary NEC meeting and it would then be followed by a lekgotla of the NEC which would start on Saturday and conclude late on Sunday.
In an NEC statement early this week, the party said the lekgotla will focus on ongoing priorities of the current ANC-led government, namely: economic recovery and reconstruction plan, the provision of basic services to all citizens, and building a social compact around unemployment and poverty.
The statement also said the agenda of defending the gains of the constitution and democratic South Africa, an effective and capable developmental state, with a focus on local government, and working for the African agenda and a better world would feature prominently.
This would be while the regular NEC will focus on the critical tasks of organisational renewal and will also adopt a road map towards the ANC 55th National Conference in December this year.
With party factions having already started publicly naming their preferred candidates for the elective conference in December, political analyst, Xolani Dube from Xubera Institute in Durban, said not many sparks are expected out of the meeting except the CR faction stamping its authority.
He said the faction has an upper hand in the NEC and its meetings because the few RET members who used to take it on like Ace Magashule and Supra Mahumapelo, have been paralysed and the few left behind have been bullied into submission.
“There won't be sparks in that meeting as widely speculated in some quarters, but still, there would some serious stamping of authority by the CR faction which has completely paralysed the RET faction. The CR faction will use this NEC meeting and lekgotla to consolidate ahead of the policy conference and the elective conference in December.
“The first batch of the Zondo commission report has given them enough ammunition to use at this meeting. Lindiwe Sisulu would not feature that much as she poses no serious threat to the faction as she has no backing of the ANC branches for her ambition to become part president,” Dube said.
So far, the chairperson of the ANC in Limpopo, Stanley Mathabatha, NEC member, Ronald Lamola, have backed Ramaphosa to take a second term as party president. Also backing the call has been Deshi Ngxanga, the provincial secretary of the ANC in the Northern Cape.
However, that has not gone unchallenged as Carl Niehaus, a senior member of the RET faction and a confidant of Magashule, condemned Mathabatha saying he was jumping the gun and reckless. Further adding weight to that was statement by Soviet Lekganyane, the provincial secretary of the ANC in Limpopo, who said Mathababatha was not speaking on behalf of the province when he backed Ramaphosa's second term bid on January at the Old Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane during the party’s January statement rally.