Zuma exit special
ANC blue blood will become only the second woman No 2
● Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s first appointment as president will be to fill the vacancy he will leave.
He is expected to appoint Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu, who ran against him for leadership of the ANC in December, as his deputy in the state.
Ramaphosa has been engaged in intense negotiations to ensure President Jacob Zuma leaves office after the ANC decided that the president should go before he does further damage to the party and the country.
Sources close to Ramaphosa said priority plans for the government have been put on ice pending “the completion of the leadership transition”.
This means that the shake-up at senior levels of the state will wait until Zuma resigns and Ramaphosa is elected president. Ramaphosa hinted at the changes in his speech at the ANC’s anniversary rally in East London last month.
Ramaphosa apparently settled on Sisulu as deputy president after exploring the possibility of naming Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor to the post.
The Sunday Times has learnt that Ramaphosa consulted allies about appointing Pandor, who he named as his preferred deputy during his campaign for the ANC presidency last year — a choice that took many people by surprise.
Pandor’s candidacy fizzled out and an agreement was struck with Sisulu on the eve of the ANC’s elective conference that she should be Ramaphosa’s running mate.
But Sisulu lost to Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza in the election of top-six members.
An ANC national executive committee member close to Ramaphosa said a cabinet reshuffle might be postponed until after the state of the nation address and tabling of the budget, but there was agreement that Sisulu should be appointed deputy president.
“It was felt that she would be stronger than Naledi on the campaign trail [for the 2019 elections], and she has across-theboard appeal,” the NEC member said.
The appointment will make Sisulu the second woman to occupy the position after Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who was appointed in 2005 to replace Zuma when he was fired as deputy president. She resigned after Thabo Mbeki was recalled as president in September 2008.
Sisulu ran a vigorous campaign for the ANC presidency, with a strong anti-corruption focus and plans for the renewal of the ANC. Her campaign ran aground due to a lack of support from ANC branches and a shortage of money.
Sisulu has served in the government since 1996, first as deputy minister of home affairs, then as minister of intelligence from 2001. Her current term as human settlements minister is her second. She has also been minister of defence and military veterans and of public service and administration.
She is the daughter of ANC veterans Walter and Albertina Sisulu and has been a political activist from an early age. She was detained by the apartheid police when she was 21. Thereafter she joined the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, and specialised in military intelligence.
Sisulu worked as Zuma’s personal assistant in the ANC’s department of intelligence after she returned from exile.
Before she suspended her own ANC presidential campaign, Sisulu was quoted as saying: “I have had a conversation with Cyril, I am waiting for him to . . . go down on one knee and ask, ‘Will you be my deputy?’ ”
It remains to be seen whether she will have the same expectation before being appointed to the second-highest position in the government.
It was felt that she would be stronger than Naledi on the campaign trail [for the 2019 elections], and she has across-the-board appeal
Cyril Ramaphosa and Lindiwe Sisulu share confidences as ANC colleagues. Ramaphosa is believed to be planning to name her as his deputy president.