Who’s who in Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential “dream team“
Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has made it clear who he wants by his side if he becomes head of the ANC. We ask analysts what they make of his ‘dream team’
THE winning team – that’s what he’s calling the collection of people he wants by his side should he emerge victorious from the ANC’s elective conference. And no one really saw it coming. ANC leaders don’t traditionally reveal their “dream team” lists upfront but Cyril Ramaphosa (64) went where his competitors dare not tread as the race for the party’s leadership enters its final straight.
His number two, he announced at a rally in Limpopo, would be Naledi Pandor, the current science and technology minister.
“Support comrade Naledi Pandor for deputy president,” he urged supporters at the #CR17 event, which was attended by some 3 000 supporters. Ramaphosa’s selection is not expected to affect his chances at the national congress, where the competition will be between him and fellow frontrunner Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (68). But experts believe that by announcing his winning team he hopes to garner support for the candidates from more branches so they could take to the conference with a sure win.
We unpack the team and ask analysts what they make of it all.
NALEDI PANDOR (63) DEPUTY PRESIDENT
The politician has served in cabinet since 2004 in various positions, including as the minister of education and of home affairs.
She is what could be called ANC royalty, political analyst Daniel Silke says, as her ties to the party date back to her elders.
Her grandfather was the respected ANC leader and education reformist ZK Matthews and her father was Joe Matthews, a respected anti-apartheid activist.
“Ramaphosa was looking for someone who is highly reliable and solid,” Silke says. “Somebody who would be seen as a comrade rather than a competitor.”
She brings stability and is highly respected, he adds. She won’t hurt Ramaphosa’s chances, has credibility and is viewed as an intellectual within the party.
“But she lacks the public profile that
could help him in the election campaign and given her maturity she might be less attractive to ‘Facebook South Africa’,” Silke says, referring to voters who are active on social media.
Her selection might put some distance between Ramaphosa and the younger electorate when it comes to the 2019 national elections, he says.
But she ticks the gender parity box now that Lindiwe Sisulu – originally earmarked to be Ramaphosa’s dream deputy – is out of the running for his team.
Analyst Ralph Mathekga is less enthusiastic about Pandor and describes her selection as “baffling”.
“I don’t know what she brings in terms of constituency or numbers. She isn’t associated with any branches of the party we know of.”
Zweli Mkhize was another person expected to be Ramaphosa’s number two but Mathekga believes either Ramaphosa rejected him or he rejected Ramaphosa.
“Ramaphosa and Mkhize on the same slate would have made for a much stronger team,” he says.
SENZO MCHUNU (59) SECRETARY GENERAL
The ousted KwaZulu- Natal premier and former ANC provincial chairperson is Ramaphosa’s pick to replace incumbent Gwede Mantashe.
Mchunu has been involved in turbulent KZN politics for more than two decades and was elected chairperson and premier in 2013 after Zweli Mkhize became ANC treasurer general.
Mkhize would have made a better choice for secretary general, Mathekga says.
“Mkhize still enjoys a great deal of respect in the province and has a lot of traction when it comes to branches.”
But Silke believes it was a sound strategic move.
Ramaphosa’s campaign is hoping to make inroads into Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s KZN stronghold with the selection of Mchunu, he says.
“They hope with someone as high profile as Mchunu, branches will vote in favour of the Ramaphosa faction instead of only supporting Dlamini-Zuma.”
PAUL MASHATILE (56) TREASURER GENERAL
The former arts and culture minister has previously indicated his availability to lead in the ANC top six should the position come his way.
“But if they say the position of president, I won’t say no. Why not? You must listen to the branches and structures. If they want to deploy me at that level, I will accept,” Mashatile told City Press in August.
His selection therefore comes as no surprise, Mathekga says, though it’s still risky as the slate does nothing for unity in the party, which all candidates have been preaching for ahead of the election.
Mashatile will appeal to the younger, more urban voter, Silke believes. “He’s a good choice for a party that might lose the Gauteng province in the 2019 elections,” he says.
The young voter is going to be essential to the national elections, he says, and this would be a step in the right direction.
GWEDE MANTASHE (62) CHAIRPERSON
The Eastern Capeborn ANC veteran has served as the party’s secretary general since 2007 and is also the former chairperson of the South African Communist Party.
While he has mostly remained on the sidelines as election fever mounts, he has bemoaned the unprecedented number of leaders vying for the top post.
In September, he made it clear whose side he was on at a church event in Limpopo.
“If President Zuma resists handing over to deputy president Ramaphosa, there will be a crisis,” he said at the time.
Mathekga believes Mantashe, whose support has waned in his past term as secretary general, has become a liability to the party. “I don’t know who would want to be seen with him.”
Silke believes by naming Mantashe in his top five, Ramaphosa has covered all the bases.
“Mantashe would be a tick for the communists and it would point to a degree of continuity within the ANC,” he says.
‘Ramaphosa was looking for someone who is highly reliable and solid’