Deputy pres­i­dent an­nounces his in­ten­tions to cam­paign for the top spot


The pres­i­den­tial suc­ces­sion race is set to heat up in less than a month’s time as Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa takes his fight to his op­po­nents in KwaZulu-Natal.

High- level strat­egy meet­ings in­clud­ing Ramaphosa’s key se­nior sup­port­ers are said to have been planned for the days fol­low­ing the ANC’s birth­day cel­e­bra­tions on Jan­uary 8.

KwaZulu-Natal has now be­come the bat­tle­ground for the race be­tween Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who has en­joyed an early lead.

But City Press has learnt that some of KwaZulu-Natal’s ANC big guns are in­creas­ingly lin­ing up be­hind Ramaphosa.

The in­volve­ment of ANC trea­surer-gen­eral Zweli Mkhize, na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) mem­ber Bheki Cele, for­mer KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu and for­mer eThek­wini mayor James Nx­u­malo has thrown the race for Zuma’s suc­ces­sor wide open.

Dlamini-Zuma, who seems to have been anointed by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, has long ap­peared to have the po­si­tion in the bag in the ab­sence of an out­right chal­lenger.

How­ever, this week, Ramaphosa gave a strong in­di­ca­tion that he was ready for the con­test.

“I too dare not linger, for my long walk has not yet ended,” Ramaphosa said as he ended his speech in com­mem­o­ra­tion of Nel­son Man­dela – in which he also spoke frankly about the cur­rent prob­lems with the ANC, in­clud­ing “pa­tron­age, cor­rup­tion and the un­re­strained scram­ble for po­si­tions and re­sources”.

After Ramaphosa’s state­ments, an­other of his back­ers, the SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) and its leader, Blade Nz­i­mande, yes­ter­day stopped short of call­ing for Zuma to step down.

“If you side with a fac­tion, it is time to go – you are not fit to lead, es­pe­cially when you are pres­i­dent of the ANC,” Nz­i­mande told Young Com­mu­nist League del­e­gates in Soweto.

With KwaZulu-Natal’s party mem­ber­ship strength di­luted, smaller prov­inces will now fancy them­selves as the new king­mak­ers in the suc­ces­sion race. Wide­spread con­sen­sus was that Dlamini-Zuma’s ap­peal would be di­min­ished if she did not en­joy solid sup­port from Zuma’s back yard.

Also, there are now ma­jor frac­tures in the so-called Premier League – a Zuma-aligned lobby group – which, to­gether with the ANC youth and women’s leagues, in­for­mally en­dorsed Dlamini-Zuma.

Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, who is backed by his prov­ince for the deputy pres­i­dency, has de­scribed Zuma’s election in Polok­wane in 2007 and in Man­gaung in 2012 as “fac­tional”, and warned that next year would be dif­fer­ent.

The moves by Ramaphosa’s back­ers to make in­roads in KwaZulu-Natal ap­pears tar­geted at break­ing the back of Dlamini-Zuma’s cam­paign. Even ANC chair­per­son Baleka Mbete has been work­ing the prov­ince for sup­port for her own bid for the pres­i­dency next year.

Zuma se­cured his sec­ond term thanks to a solid KwaZulu-Natal mem­ber­ship base, but the prov­ince sub­se­quently split due to a rift be­tween Mchunu and his suc­ces­sor – and Zuma ally – Sihle Zikalala.

Mchunu was pro­posed as the key man for Ramaphosa’s cam­paign be­cause he would bring half of KwaZulu-Natal’s branches with him, said lob­by­ists. This means Mchunu could ne­go­ti­ate a top-six post, and his al­lies are aim­ing for the sec­re­tary-gen­eral post un­der Ramaphosa.

Speak­ing anony­mously, a KwaZulu-Natal ANC pro­vin­cial leader said Mchunu’s sup­port­ers would sup­port Ramaphosa.

“Do not be in­tim­i­dated or fooled by those who are mak­ing a noise. The peo­ple of Nx­u­malo and Mchunu are clear. They make up 50% plus of branches, so it is a dan­ger to dis­count them,” he said.

“It is a lie that KwaZulu-Natal is all for [Dlamini-Zuma]. It is a lie by Zikalala and the ANC Youth League. The is­sue will be clear soon. Com­rades are wait­ing for [the ANC’s birth­day] on Jan­uary 8, then they will come through.”

The pro­vin­cial leader said there had been meet­ings in KwaZulu-Natal at­tended by some ANC vet­er­ans to dis­cuss Ramaphosa’s can­di­da­ture.

“This ... is about who can save the ANC and who is the more ex­pe­ri­enced leader; who un­der­stands the ad­min­is­tra­tion and who will bring back an ANC that is

This ... is about who can save the ANC and who is the more ex­pe­ri­enced leader

morally ac­cept­able and not fraught with fac­tions.”

Oth­ers ex­pected to fea­ture on Ramaphosa’s slate are Nz­i­mande, ANC Gaut­eng chair­per­son Paul Mashatile and Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Min­is­ter Naledi Pan­dor.

Mashatile and Pan­dor’s chances would de­pend on sup­port in their home prov­inces of Gaut­eng and the North­ern Cape, re­spec­tively.

A Zuma sup­porter on the ANC’s NEC has said that Mkhize would struggle for sup­port for a top post in the Ramaphosa camp be­cause of his pre­vi­ous al­liance with Dlamini-Zuma.

At least two prov­inces could be ex­pected to back Ramaphosa: Lim­popo and the East­ern Cape.

Mean­while, a Gaut­eng ANC lob­by­ist said Ramaphosa “has agreed to stand. That is clear.”

He said that, un­like for­mer pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe, Ramaphosa would not wait un­til it was too late to cam­paign.

“That is­sue of prin­ci­ple is hog­wash. He [Ramaphosa] has been told that it is a dirty game here. We do not pull that stunt.”

The dis­cus­sion, he said, had taken place dur­ing a meet­ing on Novem­ber 25 in Rivo­nia, which was at­tended by se­nior ANC, SACP and union lead­ers.

“They agreed that struc­tures must make noise [and Man­tashe] will turn a blind eye on this whole is­sue of pro­cesses. They were also do­ing a post-mortem on the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence raised at last week’s ANC NEC.”

Con­cerns were also raised that Zuma may be prepar­ing for a third term as ANC pres­i­dent, and “Cyril is well aware of this”, said the lob­by­ist.

“In the event that there is no con­sen­sus on who would re­place Zuma, there would be a move to pro­pose the ex­ten­sion of the term of of­fice of ANC pres­i­dent. Or­di­nary sup­port­ers of Zuma are ready for com­bat.”

He said Ramaphosa was “gain­ing mo­men­tum on the ba­sis that the Premier League is crack­ing”.

“Cyril is pow­er­ful. He is pow­er­ful to an ex­tent that he can cause trou­ble for uBaba [Zuma]. Cyril be­comes a strong con­tender on the ba­sis that he has cap­i­tal be­hind him.”

An anti-Zuma NEC mem­ber said Ramaphosa had “al­ways been ready, but he was try­ing to be more con­sid­er­ate” while still work­ing with Zuma.

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