At a loss over Cyril’s ‘winning team’
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.