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Vol 56 No 20

Published 9th October 2015

South Africa

Rise of the third termers

There is a push within the ANC for Zuma to stay on as party President for yet another term

Hand signals have always been a favourite at African National Congress gatherings. During the bruising party leadership race in 2007, Thabo Mbeki's opponents used the football hand gesture that signals that a player is being substituted. President Mbeki soon found himself substituted as ANC President by Jacob Zuma. Signals are once again being viewed as an indication of what lies ahead in the party leadership contest. It was therefore no surprise when social media were abuzz with news and pictures of members showing three-finger hand signals during the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) conference in September, where the relatively unknown North-West Province's Collen Maine was elected leader. Some of Zuma's opponents in the party say the hand gestures were part of an attempt by his backers to test the third-term debate in local branches in the run up to the 2017 elective conference. However, the President is well aware of how party branches punished Mbeki in 2007 for suggesting that he take a third term as ANC head. It helped Zuma to win.

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