NDZ bid to be No 1 hits bumps in NEC and Ace
Party’s Free State boss hints that he might not back NDZ, but go for ‘unifier’
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign to succeed President Jacob Zuma has hit turbulent waters. Her supporters in KwaZulu-Natal face the chop and her staunch backer Ace Magashule has revealed he may not support her.
At a meeting in Pretoria on Friday most of the ANC national executive committee members agreed to disband the KwaZuluNatal provincial executive and put an interim structure in place after a court ruled that the committee’s election was unlawful.
The Sunday Times has been reliably informed that Zuma intervened in the meeting and suggested that a legal opinion be sought on whether the court decision could be appealed. The matter is set to be finalised by an NEC meeting due to take place next weekend.
The removal of the KwaZuluNatal executive would deal a blow to Dlamini-Zuma’s bid to become ANC president because the ousted provincial executive was running her campaign and gave her a platform to drum up support. This week her campaign suffered another setback after Magashule refused to commit to it. Magashule is believed to be the leader of her lobby group known as the “premier league”. In an interview with the Sunday Times this week, Magashule said the ANC presidency should not be decided according to gender. He said he was more inclined to support a leader who was capable of uniting the ANC. “For us and for me it’s not about a woman or a man. It is about who is best to lead the ANC during this era and that best must emerge,” he said. Magashule’s comments come after the chairmen of several provinces met in Mpumalanga where it is believed a discussion was held about finding a compromise candidate — other than Dlamini-Zuma or Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Magashule also rejected the perception that he was opposed to Ramaphosa, arguing that the decision to make him Zuma’s deputy had been taken at his house in 2012.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign to succeed President Jacob Zuma appears to be losing steam after one of her staunch backers revealed he is not married to the idea of a woman president.
Free State premier Ace Magashule, who has been identified as a leader of the “premier league” campaigning for Dlamini-Zuma, told the Sunday Times that the ANC presidency should not be decided on gender.
In an exclusive interview, Magashule hinted that he might opt for a “unity ticket”, which might mean choosing a leader other than Dlamini-Zuma or her closest opponent, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“For us, and for me, it’s not about a woman or a man. It is about who is best to lead the ANC during this era and that best must emerge,” he said.
Magashule’s comments come after he held talks with other ANC provincial chairmen in Mpumalanga last weekend where a plan was discussed to create a “unity ticket” away from the two frontrunners.
Party treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize has positioned himself as a compromise candidate and his campaigners have put up his name as a unifier.
“The ANC needs a man or woman, somebody who can actually lead the ANC during this period. It doesn’t matter what that person is. For as long as that person is wanted by the branches of the ANC, that person is the right person.”
Magashule said his leadership collective discussed the matter and considered Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma as “good leaders” as well as ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and Mkhize.
“We are not these powerful people. We are just leaders of the ANC. We have always interacted. We were surprised when we were called premier league . . . People try to create an impression we don’t like Comrade Cyril. I always remind people that Cyril Ramaphosa was actually pushed by the same people who are seen to be premier league,” he said.
He recalled that in 2012 the plan to bring in Ramaphosa as Zuma’s deputy was hatched in his house in the Free State with Mkhize and other provincial leaders.
Magashule, who has been ANC provincial chairman since 1994, said that when they approached Ramaphosa to stand as deputy president he was apprehensive.
“He was worried he won’t make it. In 2012 people said Cyril is part of monopoly capital and we said: ‘We know Cyril. We worked with Cyril. What is the problem?’ ” he said.
When asked whether Ramaphosa was the right person to lead, Magashule hedged.
“There are people who want Cyril and people who want Nkosazana. We said: ‘Let’s play our role to unite the ANC,’ ” he said.
He would not be surprised if branches decided to nominate another leader.
In denial on state capture
Magashule was noncommittal on his availability for nomination as secretary-general on Dlamini-Zuma’s slate, saying he would wait and see what branches wanted.
However, that does not mean Magashule has fallen out with Zuma.
During the interview Magashule, whose two sons work for Gupta-owned companies, remained in denial about state capture.
“I have never done the Guptas any favour. They have never asked me for any favour . . . they have never,” he said.
He said there was still no consensus within the ANC on state capture and added that his meetings with the Guptas were like meetings with any other businessmen.
“Why are people singling out the Guptas when I met many white companies? I met all businesses.
“All politicians, including the opposition, were at the Gupta wedding. Even Mandela met the Guptas,” he said.
When asked about his sons’ business ties with the Guptas, Magashule said it was unfair because people did not know where the children and wives of other politicians worked.
“I have challenged the NEC [national executive committee], that you . . . How suddenly you became a multimillionaire? And how suddenly you got 20 cars when we all came from the liberation movement?”
Magashule dodged questions on whether he would testify before a commission of inquiry into state capture.
All politicians, including the opposition, were at the Gupta wedding. Even Mandela met the Guptas Ace Magashule Premier and ANC chairman of the Free State
Free State premier Ace Magashule says the next ANC president need not be a woman, casting doubt on his support of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.