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’

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By QAANITAH HUNTER

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

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Pic­ture: Gallo Images

Free State pre­mier Ace Magashule says the next ANC pres­i­dent need not be a woman, cast­ing doubt on his sup­port of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

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