At a loss over Cyril’s ‘win­ning team’

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Sunday Tribune - - NEWS&VIEWS - Clyde Ra­malaine

WE ARE weeks away from the ANC’S 54th elec­tive con­fer­ence where its new lead­er­ship and the fu­ture South African lead­er­ship will be elected.

The two main con­tenders re­main Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa.

We have heard of slates, and names bandied about on the re­spec­tive slates – an un­com­fort­able cul­ture the ANC seem to strug­gle with, de­spite its many claims of be­ing against it and the re­spec­tive res­o­lu­tions that con­demn it.

Last week­end, Ramaphosa, ad­dress­ing a cam­paign rally in the Tafelkop Sekhukhune re­gion in Lim­popo, in an un­prece­dented move, an­nounced his slate.

He an­nounced a slate com­pris­ing him­self as ANC pres­i­dent, Naledi Pan­dor as deputy pres­i­dent, Senzo Mchunu as sec­re­tary-gen­eral, Paul Mashatile as trea­surer-gen­eral and Gwede Man­tashe as na­tional chair­per­son.

He has not yet an­nounced his can­di­date for deputy sec­re­tary­gen­eral, though he hinted that sup­port­ers must con­sider Mathole Mot­shekga and Aaron Mot­soaledi. Ramaphosa calls this slate a win­ning team.

In his words: “These are lead­ers that will take the or­gan­i­sa­tion for­ward and re­build it. We want to build a team and the team we want to build is called ‘The Win­ning Team’, a team that will build unity and lead the na­tion.”

He sounded more like the chair­per­son of a Shan­duka cor­po­rate out­fit an­nounc­ing his team – it’s def­i­nitely not how you do it in ANC po­lit­i­cal con­tes­ta­tion.

With this am­biva­lent “win­ning team” claim, Ramaphosa told us he was part of a los­ing team and so wanted a win­ning team.

Let us then con­sider the an­nounce­ment for its place in the ANC con­text and the ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the claim of unity touted. The rea­son for us en­gag­ing some of the slate names em­anates from it be­ing of­fi­cial.

The first ques­tion is: Is

Ramaphosa cor­rect and within his rights and in con­gru­ence with ANC cul­ture when he an­nounced his slate as his win­ning team?

Nat­u­rally, sup­port­ers of the CR17 cam­paign would say he was within his rights to an­nounce a team a month be­fore the con­fer­ence, as it brings clar­ity. To make sense of this claim, we must ask for the ANC’S po­si­tion on slates, and what re­cent his­tory shows in this re­gard.

Usu­ally slates are com­piled as a group of names where those who sup­port a spe­cific slate, league, province or struc­ture may share their pref­er­ences, but never have we heard a can­di­date tell the ANC who com­prises his win­ning team.

ANC cul­ture dic­tates a façade of hu­mil­ity – if you want a po­si­tion, you don’t make it known but you have peo­ple lead that dis­cus­sion on your be­half.

The ANC is on record as re­ject­ing the prac­tice of slates; its 2015 na­tional gen­eral coun­cil (NGC) de­nounced it since it im­pinges on the right of the branches to demo­crat­i­cally de­cide on lead­er­ship. How then is it pos­si­ble for a se­nior leader like Ramaphosa to dis­re­spect the NGC’S de­ci­sion? His ac­tions in this re­gard are un­usual and un­ac­cept­able.

In re­cent ANC his­tory, in par­tic­u­lar in the democ­racy from Man­dela to Zuma, a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date has never taken the lib­erty of an­nounc­ing a team.

Per­haps we are wit­ness­ing an un­planned tran­si­tion­ing of the ANC elec­tion process as more aligned to a per­son, as we see with the typ­i­cal Amer­i­can sys­tem.

Why then would Ramaphosa try to go this way? We can only sur­mise that he con­sid­ered it strate­gic, but in the fi­nal anal­y­sis it could be read as ar­ro­gant, self-serv­ing and not sen­si­tive to the ANC.

It could also be that he knows he will not win and is des­per­ately re­sort­ing to this be­hav­iour.

With ref­er­ence to the “win­ning team”, we are not sure if he means this team will en­sure he wins, or if this team is the one to fix the ANC and its unity chal­lenge.

The sec­ond, and per­haps more im­por­tant, ques­tion is: What are the im­pli­ca­tions for Ramaphosa’s slate an­nounce­ment for the fac­tion­alised ANC? It can be as­sumed as a leader he is reaf­firm­ing the slate doc­trine in recog­ni­tion of the di­vi­sions. How then does his an­nounce­ment as­sist with unity?

There is con­sen­sus that the ANC is in des­per­ate need of unity and that will need con­scious com­mit­ment and the good­will of all pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates.

His Sekhukhune an­nounce­ment calls into ques­tion his com­mit­ment to work to unite the ANC. We know those who lost in Polok­wane re­mained an­gry and never came to re­spect or sup­port the post­polok­wane ANC lead­er­ship. As time pro­gressed, the dif­fer­ences be­came more ev­i­dent. This sit­u­a­tion lends it­self to re­sis­tance from the elected lead­er­ship and its con­stituency.

Work­ing for unity is not a lux­ury but a ne­ces­sity. I’m not con­vinced Ramaphosa’s an­nounce­ment helped in this re­spect.

His slate clearly os­tracises a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of lead­er­ship and con­stituen­cies. Com­mon sense would dic­tate that if unity were a com­mon in­ter­est it would re­quire due con­sid­er­a­tion.

The slate an­nounce­ment holds im­pli­ca­tions for his per­sonal can­di­dacy. He may have just made it more com­pli­cated for him to sum­mit Mount ANC come De­cem­ber.

On an­other level, mak­ing known his choice of the next chair­per­son, Ramaphosa may have com­pro­mised Man­tashe.

The SG of­fice is an im­por­tant cog in the vet­ting of branches for con­fer­ences and can­not be seen to be com­pro­mised.

His slate will not nec­es­sar­ily trans­late into en­dorse­ment from those an­gered in Polok­wane. He is, af­ter all, part of the ex­ist­ing lead­er­ship, mak­ing him com­plicit in both the bad and the good.

His choice of deputy, Pan­dor, who ob­tained the third-high­est fe­male votes at the last con­fer­ence in 2012, serves as NEC mem­ber and is also a mem­ber of the cur­rent cab­i­net.

She can hardly be the magic wand for change be­cause she is present at both NEC and state level.

His choice of Mashatile as trea­surer is highly ques­tion­able – Gaut­eng is a po­lit­i­cal wreck un­der his lead­er­ship. He was re­spon­si­ble for the EFF’S 400000 votes from Gaut­eng in 2014.

So we can con­clude the an­nounced slate does not in­spire any hope of an or­gan­i­sa­tional re­newal.

Branches must now ask how a con­tender could break with tra­di­tion while they were still looking at names – and whether this re­flected fit­ness to lead.

An ANC state­ment con­demned the slate an­nounce­ment, in­di­cat­ing he was out of or­der.

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