Ramaphosa takes an early lead
With almost a third of branch nominations completed, Cyril Ramaphosa is leading the ANC presidential nomination count. But Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is certainly not out of the race yet
Of the 1 138 ANC branches (out of a total of about 3 800 branches in good standing) that had held their branch general meetings (BGMs) by Thursday, 768 nominated Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president Jacob Zuma’s successor and 360 nominated Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
All other presidential hopefuls — Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, ANC policy guru Jeff Radebe, National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete and former ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa — appear to have fallen by the wayside at this early stage of the nominations process, with almost a third of the party’s branch nominations in.
These numbers are almost certain to change in the next few weeks as the remainder of the BGMs are held.
The elimination of some candidates has led to horse-trading, with Ramaphosa supporters on the one hand trying to woo Mkhize to join their list as his deputy and DlaminiZuma’s camp on the other trying to convince Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza to accept nomination as her deputy.
Mabuza has previously said, for the sake of unity he would not associate himself with either of the two main factions in the ANC.
Lagging further behind is Sisulu, who was nominated by only two branches in the Western Cape.
ANC branch nominations are presided over by regional executive committee (REC) members, and are sent directly to Luthuli House and to their respective provincial executive committees (PECs) once a decision is made. This has exposed the officials presiding over the meetings to intense criticism from rival factions, resulting in a number of complaints being sent to secretary general Gwede Mantashe about meetings that were allegedly convened illegally.
KwaZulu-Natal is the ANC’s biggest province and will be sending 870 delegates out of the total of 4 723 to the conference, with most members there backing Dlamini-Zuma. Of the 324 of the province’s branches that sat for their BGMs, 247 nominated DlaminiZuma and 79 nominated Ramaphosa.
The bulk of branches in the party’s eThekwini, Moses Mabhida, Harry Gwala and Musa Dladla regions have chosen Dlamini-Zuma. Ramaphosa made a decent showing in the AbaQulusi (Zululand) region, where 11 of 12 branches in Nongoma backed him. Only one Nongoma branch reportedly backed Dlamini-Zuma.
One of Ramaphosa’s campaign coordinators, Sithembiso Mshengu, was not willing to comment on the state of play after the second round of BGMs took place. He did, however, claim that there were “a lot of irregularities and there are a lot of processes outstanding, but I believe we are on the right track within the limitations of the processes, as many as they are. In relation to support for CR [Ramaphosa], we are happy but we could do better.”
Mshengu said a “lot” of branches in eThekwini, Moses Mabhida and Harry Gwala had lodged appeals with Luthuli House about the alleged manipulation of BGM processes.
“eThekwini has been the worst. Metro police have been used to keep people out of meetings and intimidate them; people are arriving at branch meetings to find they have been removed from the voters’ roll,” he said.
ANC eThekwini regional secretary Bheki Ntuli said all 57 branches that had held BGMs had chosen DlaminiZuma. The region has 110 branches.
In the uKhahlamba region, six branches met in uMtshezi. Four nominated Ramaphosa and two failed to nominate, with the delegates being in favour of Ramaphosa, according to a source in the region.
ANC Youth League KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Kwazi Mshengu said that in the Musa Dladla region 27 branches had nominated DlaminiZuma and six Ramaphosa. The region has 89 branches that have qualified for the national conference.
In the Moses Mabhida region, of the 86 branches, 60 held BGMs and 59 nominated Dlamini-Zuma. Fifteen of the Lower South Coast’s 86 branches held BGMs, with eight nominating Ramaphosa and seven Dlamini-Zuma.
In the Harry Gwala region, 37 branches of 58 have convened, with 34 nominating Dlamini-Zuma and eight Ramaphosa. In Greater KwaDukuza, 34 branches have nominated Dlamini-Zuma and five Ramaphosa. In AbaQulusi, Mshengu said, seven had nominated Dlamini-Zuma, two Mkhize and 16 Ramaphosa.
At eMalahleni, 19 of 53 branches have met, with six nominating Dlamini-Zuma and 13 Ramaphosa. In the Inkosi Bambatha region, of 20 branches that have sat, nine have chosen Dlamini-Zuma and 11 Ramaphosa. In the Far North region, 14 branches have convened, with seven nominating Dlamini-Zuma and seven Ramaphosa.
Mpumalanga is the ANC’s secondbiggest province and will be represented by 736 delegates at the December conference. Twenty branches in two regions will be holding their BGMs this weekend and, according Ramaphosa’s backers, Dlamini-Zuma’s supporters are intent on collapsing the meetings, fearing the ANC deputy will make inroads in the province.
“Nominations so far show that Mabuza and his premier league are not all-powerful, contrary to popular belief. He is losing power, and therefore he is suspected of being the archi- tect of the ‘unity’ nominee,” a senior ANC leader said, alluding to Mkhize.
A total of 32 branches have held their BGMs in the Ekangala region, with 30 nominating Ramaphosa and two backing Dlamini-Zuma.
Phosa, meanwhile, believes that he has the backing of nearly two-thirds of Mpumalanga, his home region.
The Eastern Cape has 299 branches cleared to attend the conference, and 195 have held their BGMs. Ramaphosa received a total of 182 nominations, Dlamini-Zuma 11 and Mkhize two.
The party’s Amathole, Joe Gqabi and Nelson Mandela Bay regions are strongholds for Dlamini-Zuma and have yet to begin their nominations.
All 20 branches that met in the Sarah Baartman region nominated Ramaphosa. Alfred Nzo branches, whose regional leaders backed Mkhize’s campaign, nominated him as Ramaphosa’s deputy. DlaminiZuma received three nominations.
A total of 21 of the 23 branches in Buffalo City nominated Ramaphosa and two nominated Mkhize. In the OR Tambo region’s 77 BGMs, DlaminiZuma received three nominations; the other 74 back Ramaphosa.
Joe Gqabi, Amathole and Nelson Mandela Bay regional leaders this week lodged disputes with Mantashe.
“The current PEC is deliberately excluding those who support NDZ [Dlamini-Zuma] … We’ve given them [the PEC] an ultimatum to give us the packages or we will create our own documentation,” Joe Gqabi secretary Mfundo Bongela said.
The nomination process i n the Western Cape has also been stifled by the “manipulation of the regional branch attendance registers”, a senior presiding official in the province told the Mail & Guardian.
Chosen ones: Members of the KwaZulu-Natal ANC Women’s League (above) perform in support of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the party gears up for the ANC’s next national elective conference (scenes from previous conferences are pictured at left and bottom right). In Ekurhuleni (top right), there was a revolt among ANC branches this week that backed Cyril Ramaphosa in defiance of the regional directive. Photos: Rajesh Jantilal/AFP/Delwyn Verasamy and Paul Botes