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.


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.


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.”


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.


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’

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