Why Tokyo Sexwale’s individual campaign for High Office will fail !!

– He really has no appetite to lead the ANC, but wants to run the Country-

This year is an elective conference year for the ANC, and we are building towards the much talked about Mangaung where the leadership of the ANC and to a large extend South Africa will be elected. In the uprun to that we shall attempt to assess the contenders for the post of ANC Presidency one by one arguing why they will or will not make it.

The true nomination in official context is not open yet we are told it will only open in September. Yet anyone who is fooled to think there is no lobbying and campaigning taking place fails to see the signs of the times.

Amidst this invisible and at times visible contestation of personalities, candidates or potential hopefuls are showing their hands in different and distinct ways. My focus for this article is Tokyo Sexwale. Tokyo Sexwale NEC member, former Robben Islander, Gauteng Premier and BEE entrepreneur, and now serving Housing Minister have raised his hand for unseating the current incumbent. There is absolutely nothing wrong for any ANC member to raise their hand that is not the debate.  There is also nothing wrong for people to be asked to stand because that is part of the democratic processes in ANC electioneering.  However I shall argue how Sexwale has chosen to do this, his methodology his message and strategy sets him up for failure, notwithstanding anything that may count in his favour.

I shall attempt to dissect this to advance his campaign will end in defeat.

1. The first challenge with Tokyo’s campaign is that it is aimed and run based on a subliminal message of media sentiment against the incumbent. It is as if Sexwale believes that a dislike of Zuma, as SA president is a dislike of Zuma as ANC president.  It is right here where he commits a tactical blunder. Anyone who wants to win the S A presidency must first win the ANC confidence

2. Sexwale it is perceived runs an American election campaign for country presidential office in a totally different political system.

3. Sexwale fails to appreciate that he needs to win the centre of the ANC as his constituency to have his dream realized. There is nothing wrong with ambition which he has in the superlative but you must persuade the centre which would propel one to the Tuynhuis view.

4. Sexwale misreads how leaders in the ANC are elected. ANC leaders are all ambitious like any political organisation yet there is an unwritten code or an expectation yet to never show interest but to act in humility emulating the will of the movement is bigger than one. This expectation is endemically part of the selfless – culture of the ANC. Anyone who does not show respect for it is perceived as a careerist which no true ANC member wants to be called. Call this expectation of humility a fallacy or not, it is “culture” in the ANC and anything else is found foreign and cannot help ones campaign.

5. Sexwale’s campaign lacks substance or a cause; any campaign must show an alternative to the current. The problem is the ANC decides on policy as collective and its political direction is not unilaterally dictated or decided by any individual. This collective decision in policy formulation and direction can be critiqued as not to be mistakenly associated to any elected individual rendering it difficult for the person to be judged for it.

What collective decision making in ANC context require from any hopeful ANC leader is to implement and deliver that which the conference had resolved on. This minimizes the elected official to do his own thing but to comply with what he was endowed with.  This effectively means if a president of the ANC ensures the delivery of the resolutions of ANC Conference he would stay in power unless something really different is at work. Hence Sexwale must first understand this not remotely but intrinsically.

6. Sexwale’s campaign besides being a sentimental one is erroneously informed by a historic Polokwane scenario where some felt he was an option or the third way out in an anticipated showdown of force between Mbeki and Zuma.

Those who argued he should make himself available read the situation of the time, but lacked foresight that both Zuma and Mbeki unlike Sexwale had a history of ANC national executive leadership serving and seniority. The prevailing circumstances then and now differs starkly, the circumstances are totally different and the issues at play also different. To superimpose that or read that as evidence for launching ones personal campaign in 2012, is short-sighted and less informed by proper and objective analysis.

7. Sexwale has decided that he can go it alone, when most people  talk of elections in the ANC they engage in what is called “snapshot analysis” with Polokwane as the maximum symbol. Polokwane as I already noted was a unique moment in the ANC which cannot be used as the standard of future elections in the organisation. To attempt to reignite the Zuma march to power as a standard, one  must firstly understand the elongated emotional campaign he ran, the victim mindset he sold on sentiment and the “tremendous hurt” many had claimed Mbeki executed.

This “hurt” or campaign of the wounded ones had many groups in various key constituencies like the workers, tripartite alliances formations the women, the youth, many individuals who were sidelined and those who simply got tired of Mbeki who already had been running the country from half of a Mandela period and was late in his second term seen as aloof.  Zuma came to power by a cohort of constituencies on the pretext of woundedness and that was not Zuma alone.  Going into Mangaung alone is not wise nor is it possible.

8. Sexwale misreads the importance and role of the inner machinery of the centrality of the office of the secretary general to secure ones election. This may sound like factional endorsement yet it has less to do with that. The office of the SG serving as a member of the top 6 and the real CEO of the Organisation is critical for the vetting of branches, the unification of organisation, the synapses of communication, the system of information and instrumental for relations.  Remember the removal of an incumbent reflects on the SG in fact on the entire top 6 if the standard is implementation of policy resolutions.

The incumbent is therefore helped if the relationship between the president and secretary general is solid. Judging the SACP conference, which until this week the ANC – SG headed as chairperson,   Zuma has received his endorsement.  It doesn’t take rocket science to argue that Zuma has managed to succeed to keep his secretary general close to him, a clear plus for him as we move to Mangaung.

9. Sexwale’s youth association could have proven a major plus, clearly a strategy he attempted, but found that he is not alone who can claim an ANCYL endorsement. The Youth League who has played a role in electing presidents, suffered serious blows with the expelling of its leader, and the suspension of its secretary general and spokesperson. Not only that the Youth league in recent times has shown inconsistencies of oneness, whilst it lost its claimed kingmaker status.  Finally the youth league lost its campaign when the policy conference, adopted the economic transformation as a priority and second phase flagship. To hinge ones hopes on the current youth league that at conference constitute a percent of voting block is not wise, because they have recently been brought into order and line with the ANC.

10. Sexwale shows signs of overt opposition to the incumbent, this is another element that separates his campaign from that of others or even historic if we may use again the Polokwane experience as standard. It is wiser to let others attack your opponent and you ride on the benefit of that, Zuma did this he had people who rightly or wrongly went at Mbeki; he very seldom showed his opposition publicly.  In fact Chikane’s book talks about how the then secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe and him tried to convene meetings with Mbeki and Zuma to help heal what was perceived as a grave gap in their relations. Their work was made difficult because both men never admitted to any personal agendas citing their long history of working together and claimed a friendship that needs no intervention or arbitration. This is another leaf a Sexwale can take from Zuma.  Sexwale may never have said – Zuma must go in these recorded words – but with his leadership statements, etc he has become the by-default face of the ABZ (All But Zuma) campaign. He is the most vocal senior leader who has shown his call for leadership change. Motlanthe has sought to go at influencing policy (his comments on Second Transition) to show his approach.

11.  Sexwale misinterprets the figurative recall sign of some as a call that will work for him. Those who make such call often associate it with a Kgalema Motlanthe candidacy that follows a new history of deputy president becoming president notion. Sexwale would do well to be seen to be supporting a Motlanthe campaign in selflessness and hope to be a benefactor as a member of the Motlanthe list.  In contradiction, what he is currently doing is to show Motlanthe perhaps the strongest candidate as weak, shell-schocked and not the man to unseat Zuma.

12. Sexwale cannot count on the former – Mbeki constituency in the ANC. The former Mbeki, constituency  who prides themselves as the intellectual heart of the movement never will embrace Zuma and will easier throw their weight behind Motlanthe who is perceived as moderate, astute, a bridge-builder and a voice of reason. Sexwale cannot claim that constituency not even if they were really angry with Zuma.

13. Sexwale’s campaign if Polokwane is the yardstick needs a victim – villain scenario. At Polokwane you could not claim Mbeki did not implement ANC  adopted policies hence other matters such as the seemed attack vilification and claimed State orchestrated campaign against Zuma was the issue. There was a victim and villain scenario which does not exist now. There was a personification of this pain in Zuma which does not exist now.

14. Sexwale cannot count on the workers as a constituency to support him, be it at sentimental or factual level; he remains a BEE entrepreneur and benefactor who became exceptionally wealthy. The rethink of the very BEE policy in which in my assessment only a  100 families of South Africa benefitted, is generally rejected by the workers and Sexwale represents the defence of white capital. He is in the crossfire of the workers challenge for a living wage. People in the cross-fire are often victims of stray bullets.

15.  Sexwale as Housing Minister failed to inspire meaningful change in the second most crucial ministry after Education. Anyone who understands the complexities of housing delivery knows the desperate need for visionary leadership to deliver on the ever increasing housing and now believed insurmountable shortage South Africa needs.  Sexwale except for proving attacking on his predecessor (Lindiwe Sisulu) and charging a few corrupt officials has done virtually nothing on the challenge of housing.

He had a great chance as extended by Zuma to build a success story which may validate his claim to fame, or maybe Zuma was clever to set him up by assigning him to the graveyard of ministers. He lacks the success story of housing and is remembered as the former Sowetan who now in wealth chose to spent a night in Diepsloot to feel the pain of what the poor experience. That is what a Jesse Jackson from America would do, as a means to win votes. Not from one whom was breastfed and raised in Soweto.  He missed an opportunity to make a success at housing. His tenure as Gauteng Premier did not inspire much individual visionary leadership to warrant an argument that when he is elected at Mangaung things will change.

16. Lastly, Sexwale cannot count on the influential SACP ideological and rock solid leadership support. The SACP is a small but very significant constituency, because it has historically influenced ANC thinking and in recent years more under Zuma has pretty much shaped policy articulation. Sexwale cannot claim this constituency and may never be able to persuade them against Zuma.

In the end Sexwale with a great smile, half baritone voice, matured sexy looks (according to some women), the ex Robben-islander ( who shared a Prison with Mandela), friend of the iconic Chris Hani, former Gauteng Premier and great salesman lacks a constituency, cause and depth of ANC understanding and no amount of travelling to the Eastern Cape as hopeful will help. He needs to understand the ANC better and quit an attempt at going it alone campaign for the interest of organisation.  Sexwale is ahead of our election time, hopefully 20 years from now we will vote for individuals but not now. It is argued, Tokyo  Sexwale shot to  stardom at the death of the late Chris Hani, he is remembered as the one who  cried himself into a presence of significance, I am afraid becoming the ANC president will need more than a few tears.

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

Independent Commentator

 This article appears courtesy “Tradewinds are Blowing” Political Commentary  2012

July 15, 2012


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