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ANC wants Zuma ally in govt

 SOUTH Africa’s ruling ANC will ask President Thabo Mbeki to bring a close ally of party leader Jacob Zuma into his cabinet to ease a transition of power, a party spokesman said on Monday.

Deputy African National Congress leader Kgalema Motlanthe, a former political prisoner and trade unionist, is also seen by some analysts as a possible candidate for president if Zuma is found guilty in a corruption trial due to start in August.

“I don’t think you can run for president from the prison dock in a court house. I think then they would fall back on plan B which is to go for Kgalema Motlanthe,” said political analyst Allister Sparks.

Other analysts said appointing Motlanthe at the behest of the ANC executive could help heal some of the differences that have developed between Mbeki’s government and the ANC since Zuma beat the president in the party leadership contest last December.

That might allow for an easier transition of power in 2009, when Mbeki is obliged to step down after the two terms he is allowed by the constitution. Zuma is almost assured of becoming president if he beats the corruption charges.

Political uncertainty has added to investor unease over South Africa’s biggest economy after power cuts hit mining and amid concerns at inflation and the current account deficit. The rand hit a five-year-low against the US dollar on Monday.

ANC spokesman Steyn Speed said the National Executive Committee decision to push for Motlanthe to get a cabinet post was aimed at ensuring continuity.

“It is in the context of ensuring continuity as this government’s term (ends) in 2009 and the incoming government should the ANC win the elections,” ANC spokesman Steyn Speed said.

The ANC’s electoral dominance virtually assures that its leader will become state president in 2009.

Zuma faces money-laundering, racketeering, fraud and corruption charges. He has stirred investor fears with his ties to trade unions and Communists. Zuma has said he will step down as ANC leader if he is convicted. — Reuters.

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