The sur­prise re­turn of Dlamini-Zuma as MP opens the way for the pres­i­dent to make an early de­par­ture – pro­vided that she is elected to the top job in De­cem­ber


The re­turn of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to Par­lia­ment leaves the door open for Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to make an early exit from gov­ern­ment once his suc­ces­sor has been elected at the ANC’s elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber, party in­sid­ers say. Dlamini-Zuma is ex­pected to be ap­pointed to Cabi­net in what would be a sec­ond reshuf­fle by Zuma this year, fol­low­ing the dra­matic one in March that in­volved the ax­ing of then fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han and his deputy, Mce­bisi Jonas.

Lob­by­ists for Dlamini-Zuma are di­vided on whether the move will af­fect her cam­paign to suc­ceed Zuma.

The former min­is­ter of health, of for­eign af­fairs and of home af­fairs is one of the fron­trun­ners in the gov­ern­ing party’s pres­i­den­tial race, along­side Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa.

Dlamini-Zuma’s sup­port­ers in the ANC say her move to Par­lia­ment has been on the cards for some time now.

They be­lieve that her de­ploy­ment in Cabi­net now would make it eas­ier for Zuma to step down at the be­gin­ning of next year and hand over to her – pro­vided that she wins in De­cem­ber.

“It was the plan all along,” said an ANC na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber in Dlamini-Zuma’s camp.

“We spoke about the fact that baba [Zuma] is con­sid­er­ing leav­ing be­fore his pres­i­den­tial term is up, prob­a­bly af­ter the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence. He is avoid­ing this thing of two cen­tres of power, so we need her to be a par­lia­men­tar­ian to take over from him.

“We just need to meet and dis­cuss where she will be placed in Cabi­net. Of course, some­one like her will have to get some­thing pres­ti­gious. Cyril has had a lot of plat­forms from be­ing in gov­ern­ment, so she will also have that ad­van­tage now.”

Dlamini-Zuma’s sur­prise move comes as the race for the top ANC post in­ten­si­fies, with ac­cu­sa­tions fly­ing about that dirty tricks are now be­ing used on con­tenders.

Last week, Ramaphosa was cor­nered into ad­mit­ting to a past ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair when pur­ported per­sonal emails were leaked, along with al­le­ga­tions that he had sev­eral af­fairs.

Ramaphosa ad­mit­ted only to one re­la­tion­ship, say­ing it ended eight years ago.

He also claimed that the emails had been ob­tained il­le­gally by his de­trac­tors in the ANC us­ing state in­tel­li­gence re­sources.

Some sources have spec­u­lated that, be­sides a Cabi­net reshuf­fle, Dlamini-Zuma’s re­turn to the Na­tional Assem­bly could mean a re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of the ANC cau­cus in Par­lia­ment – with the axe fall­ing on the out­spo­ken chief whip, Jack­son Mthembu, who came out in fierce de­fence of Ramaphosa this week, say­ing he would con­tinue to sup­port Ramaphosa’s bid to be­come pres­i­dent, de­spite the “sleaze and dirt” be­ing thrown at him.

Yes­ter­day, Mthembu was un­aware of any threat to his po­si­tion, say­ing that, if the ANC’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee de­cided to re­move him, he would ac­cept this.

“So far, I have not been told any­thing,” he said. “But if there were to be such a de­ci­sion, I would have no qualms about it.”

Mthembu said he would sit down with Dlamini-Zuma to dis­cuss where best she could serve, as he did with all new ANC MPs.

“She is very se­nior, very ex­pe­ri­enced. We will look at her strong points and the ex­per­tise that she has gained over the years as an MP,” he said.

“We are deal­ing with some­one who headed a num­ber of port­fo­lios at a po­lit­i­cal level.”

Mthembu said Dlamini-Zuma was not re­moved from the 2014 ANC na­tional list and was now tak­ing up her right to be part of Par­lia­ment.

“It is in keep­ing with what we have al­ways done. Who­ever is sup­posed to take their seat in Par­lia­ment, takes their seat. Now it is her turn.”

Mthembu also con­firmed that Dlamini-Zuma was fill­ing a va­cancy left by the res­ig­na­tion of ANC MP Pule Mabe last month.

Meokgo Matuba, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the ANC Women’s League, said Dlamini-Zuma’s sup­port­ers were not con­cerned that her cam­paign would suf­fer be­cause, as a woman, she would be able to mul­ti­task.

“There are those who are cam­paign­ing while they re­main MPs. We will just need to work around the pro­gramme. We are not wor­ried about the cam­paign tak­ing a nose­dive. Ev­ery­thing is on track. We are women; we al­ways mul­ti­task.”

Matuba said the league was ex­cited about Dlamini-Zuma’s re­turn to Par­lia­ment, adding that, while it was the pres­i­dent’s pre­rog­a­tive to make Cabi­net ap­point­ments, “we wouldn’t mind a Cabi­net po­si­tion for her”.

Dlamini-Zuma is ex­pected to be sworn in along with former Rusten­burg mu­nic­i­pal­ity mayor and former mur­der ac­cused Matthew Wol­marans.

ANC mem­bers in North West said their chair­per­son, Premier Supra Mahumapelo, was hop­ing that his close ally, Wol­marans, could also find space in Cabi­net.

An­other se­nior ANC mem­ber and Zuma loy­al­ist added that the res­ig­na­tion of former deputy min­is­ter of higher ed­u­ca­tion Mduduzi Manana had pro­vided a much-needed op­por­tu­nity for a reshuf­fle.

A Dlamini-Zuma lob­by­ist said her cam­paign would not be dis­turbed be­cause Par­lia­ment pro­vided for MPs to miss up to 90 days.

He said Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers gen­eral sec­re­tary Go­drich Gardee and party leader Julius Malema, had made good use of this pro­vi­sion.

He said Zuma could tar­get a min­is­ter who did not have a strong con­stituency and re­place them, and that there was a pos­si­bil­ity that Dlamini-Zuma would be ready to step up if Zuma de­cided to va­cate the Union Build­ings af­ter the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence to avoid two cen­tres of power.

ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe con­firmed that Dlamini-Zuma would be sworn in as an MP, but said he had no idea if Zuma would ap­point her to Cabi­net. He said it was Zuma who had the power to make Cabi­net ap­point­ments.

“I don’t know. My own plan is to send her to Par­lia­ment. I have no other plans,” he said.

Man­tashe, touted for the po­si­tion of chair­per­son on both the Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma slates – took ex­cep­tion to the num­ber of can­di­dates stand­ing for the ANC’s top job. At least eight se­nior ANC mem­bers have availed them­selves for the ANC pres­i­dency. They in­clude Mathews Phosa, Lindiwe Sisulu, Jeff Radebe, Zweli Mkhize, David Mabuza, Baleka Mbete and the fron­trun­ners, Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa.

“The last time we had this many can­di­dates was in 1952. There were 10 can­di­dates then. We can­not have that in 2017. Eight can­di­dates, and all of them want­ing to be pres­i­dent, is sick,” he said, speak­ing in Ekurhu­leni, Gaut­eng, on Fri­day. “We know our ca­pa­bil­i­ties, so it can’t be that we are so con­fused that there are eight can­di­dates.”

Those in the Dlamini-Zuma camp took a dif­fer­ent view, say­ing the emer­gence of mul­ti­ple can­di­dates who were com­monly op­posed to Zuma was, in it­self, a vote of no con­fi­dence in Ramaphosa.

An in­sider in the Dlamini-Zuma camp ex­plained: “It means the one thing that unites them is that Zuma must go. But im­me­di­ately af­ter that, they can­not agree on who must take over. If Ramaphosa is the nat­u­ral heir to the throne, it means they do not think he is dif­fer­ent from Zuma.”

Re­spond­ing to what he has la­belled a smear cam­paign against him, Ramaphosa told ANC branches in QwaQwa in the Free State yes­ter­day that he would not be de­terred. “The sea­son ... of dirty tricks is now upon us. There is now this thing of at­tack­ing peo­ple.

“They tar­get peo­ple so that they can in­tim­i­date them into re­treat­ing. But we are not going to re­treat.

“We can­not al­low dirty tricks. The next thing, they will kill peo­ple. In KwaZulu-Na­tal peo­ple are be­ing tar­geted. It is not the be­hav­iour and the tra­di­tion of the ANC to tar­get those who you dif­fer with by us­ing dirty tricks against them and by even killing them. This is what we are see­ing in KwaZulu-Na­tal and we are say­ing that must come to an end.

“And, where we dif­fer, let us dif­fer through de­bate and per­sua­sion. This thing of tar­get­ing com­rades – and smear­ing them and us­ing dirty tricks against them, and even killing them – must come to an end.”



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