S Africa's ANC tense ahead of leadership vote

Run-up to ruling party's internal elections dogged by claims of political assassinations, corruption and irregularities.

    The executive committee of South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), was to meet for the last time ahead of the opening of the party's leadership conference in Bloemfontein.

    The executive committee, meeting on Saturday, was expected to discuss the crucial issues of court rulings on Friday on two of its provincial constituencies.

    The vote for the incumbent country and party leader, Jacob Zuma, in the Free State Province constituency, where the leadership conference is being held, was ruled as invalid on Friday.

    David Mosiane Chika, a leader in a second constituency and an anti-Zuma member was murdered on Friday morning, in what some party leaders believe was an assassination.

    The run-up to the ANC's leadership election, which is likely to determine the leadership of the country as well, has been dogged by accusations of political assassinations, corruption and irregularities.

    The executive is expected to address these issues on Saturday, in an attempt to ease brewing tensions ahead of the

    Nominations of party challengers have not yet been officially announced by the ANC, but country and party deputy
    president Kgalema Motlanthe announced on Thursday that he would challenge Zuma for the post of president, while also accepting a nomination to retain his position.

    Motlanthe faces a challenge for his post as deputy from Cyril Ramaphosa, an anti-apartheid union leader.

    Zuma has, however, been nominated by six of the country's nine provinces. Only three regions have voted in favour of Motlanthe for president.

    Fierce race

    The ANC marks 100 years since it was created, this year and this is the 53rd National conference of the party.

    Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from in Mangaung, or Bloemfontein, where the conference was taking place said the party had changed a lot since then and now faces new challenges like trying to remain relevant in society.

    "More than 4,000 delegates will be voting in secret ballots, and some of them are already worried about vote-rigging
    and intimidation," she said.

    "Lobyying behind the scenes is expected, as members try to ensure that their candidates get voted in, with the key positions being the president and vice-president."

    At the previous ANC election, in 2007, Zuma ousted then-president Thabo Mbeki, creating rifts within the party.

    Some analysts are saying that this conference could be a fierce race for the top ANC positions and could divide the party, which is one of the biggest fears people have because its members are not unified, with the different factions within the party, said our correspondent.

    The ANC, which has run South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, still however retains strong support of most of South Africans.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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