Precedence in the ANC is that the deputy president of the ruling party takes over the position of president. But the same could possibly not apply for Ramaphosa if those lobbying for a female president have numbers on their side at the 2017 elective conference.
Ramaphosa has kept mum about the issue of a female president, but those close to him say he is not happy about the debate, which he sees as a subtle way to reject him indirectly.
Some within the ANC are of the view that it is still too early for succession debates, but others believe this could dent his chances of emerging as the victor.
Ramaphosa may not be favoured by fundamentalists in the ANC’s communist bloc, who view him as a capitalist because of his background in business in recent years.