It is all about “seconds” for the ANC as it kicks off the new year — with its centenary flame returning to Mr Zuma’s home province for the second time, the president moving to consolidate his power base and the spotlight increasingly falling on     newly elected second-in-charge, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Last month, Mr Zuma secured a second term as ANC president, Mr Ramaphosa replaced Kgalema Motlanthe as his deputy, and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe retained his position along with chairwoman Baleka Mbete at the 53rd national conference in the Free State. Deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte was elected unopposed and KwaZulu-Natal chairman Zweli Mkhize replaced Mathews Phosa as treasurer.

The party programme includes a series of rallies, dinners with leading businesspeople, the first meeting of the newly elected national executive committee and the release of the annual 8 January statement, which will give impetus to the policy decisions taken in the Free State.

ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said the national executive committee will iron out the final details of the 8 January statement. The committee is packed with those loyal to Mr Zuma, with additions including Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni.

The election of the party’s powerful national working committee by the executive committee may also take place during the week. The executive committee is obliged to elect a working committee “as soon as possible”, following an elective conference.

The 8 January statement sets the tone for the coming year and is seen as a precursor to the president’s state of the nation address, to be delivered at the opening of Parliament on 14 February.

Tomorrow, the centenary flame travels to the home of African Union Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, whose election to the continental body has bolstered her political fortunes at home. She received the highest number of votes for those elected as additional members to the ANC national executive committee.

A mini rally will be held on Tuesday, with the party’s top brass expected to address various events throughout the week.

The party will hold a parade through central Durban on Friday and open its new provincial offices. The ANC will also host a gala dinner at the International Conference Centre and a cultural festival on the beachfront.

Events will culminate in the 101st anniversary rally on Saturday next week at the Absa Rugby Stadium. — Businessday

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