ANC RACE HEATS UP
Gwede, Zweli and Cyril enter the fray
THE BATTLE for control of the ANC took a turn yesterday when party deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and treasurer Zweli Mkhize used the 105th birthday celebrations to indicate their intentions to blow the race wide open.
Their comments, coming just days after President Jacob Zuma said outgoing AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was ready to ascend to the throne, could be seen to be efforts to scupper her bid for the top job.
Mantashe, Mkhize and Ramaphosa and labour federation Cosatu are believed to be in a slate that is opposed to Dlamini Zuma, who is backed by the president, some provincial premiers and key elements of the tripartite alliance.
Yesterday, the Ramaphosa slate fought back, although it didn’t mention anyone by name.
In his address to the ANC provincial rally in the Eastern Cape, Ramaphosa warned ANC members to be “conscious enough” and never elect or support party leaders who “steal” public funds.
Speaking at the Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha during the ANC’s 105th anniversary celebrations, he called on party members not to allow factional groupings to manipulate branches to support their preferred candidates.
Addressing a similar party event in George in the Western Cape, Mantashe told party members to be wary of people who campaigned for either themselves, their friends or family members.
Mkhize also warned party members in KwaDukuza in KwaZuluNatal not to be drawn into factional battles because factions don’t win elections.
Zuma, who made a surprise appearance at the same rally where Mkhize was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, urged party members to prepare for the policy conference in Gauteng in June instead of engaging in factional battles.
Ramaphosa spared no effort in launching a broadside at party leaders. He said the ANC had leaders who, after being elected into positions, tended to loot state resources for their selfish gains.
“ANC branches have always displayed unity. The problem is with leaders who divide branches for their personal gains. We must also face the reality about factionalists who use taxpayers’ money to buy votes from branch members to advance their political agendas,” he warned.
“We must also acknowledge that there are instances where internal ANC processes have been infiltrated by individuals and companies seeking preferential access to state businesses and resources,” he added.
Mantashe also hit hard at those using their families to be elected into positions. In what also appears to be a swipe at Zuma, Mantashe warned against electing leaders based on gender.
“The debate on the presidency… people say we want a woman president. No we don’t want a woman president, we want the president of the ANC, whether that president is a woman or a man,” he told a cheering crowd.
“That is why (we should) never base the debate of 2017 on a tradition that does not exist. So if we are saying a certain deputy president must not ascend to the position of president, give an argument as to why, where they are incompetent or not performing,” he said.
“And if you do not provide an explanation or say we must not have a debate, then both assertions are flawed,” he said.
Mantashe also warned against people campaigning for themselves, their friends or families.
“Beware of those who come to you because they are lobbying for their friends and the manner of these runners,” he said.
“Look for the people who are campaigning for friends and associates, look for people who want to be elected because they have personal interests,” he said.
Zuma called on party members to stop talking about succession. Instead they must prepare for the forthcoming policy conference.
“It is like people are possessed with positions. They like talking about this from dawn to dusk,” he said.
“People want the policy conference in June to discuss positions,” he said.
“Don’t look for your friend to occupy a position, look for a talented comrade who would be able to work for the ANC,” he said.
Mkhize warned against factionalism in the party.
“We must never agree to be recruited by factions. You must stick to the policies of the ANC and make it strong and unite the ANC, because you want to inherit the ANC when it is still in charge of the country.
“You don’t want to inherit an ANC that has lost elections,” he said. “There is no faction that can win in the conference and then win the elections for the ANC. The conference must be won by the ANC. We must refuse to be drawn into factionalism,” said Mkhize.
Ramaphosa has what it takes to fix the ailing ruling party. But it won’t be plain sailing,
CYRIL Ramaphosa has confirmed his availability to contest the presidency of the governing ANC at its 54th national conference later this year. He has already secured the endorsement of Cosatu.
He failed in his bid to lead the party once before. Twenty years ago, his comrades Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma were chosen ahead of him for the top two jobs at the party’s 1997 Mafikeng conference.
If his dream is going to be realised this time, he is going to have to take on a major task of convincing ANC branches of his suitability.
Ramaphosa will need a restoration and renewal narrative to convince them. He’ll need to show he has a plan to rebuild the party, and inspire its cadres sitting on the sidelines to join in his renewal efforts.
If successful, he will need to switch immediately to election-campaigning mode. The country goes to the polls in 2019 and he will have to do everything in his power to salvage the former liberation movement’s declining electoral support.
For South Africans at large, he will need to show how the ANC as a brand can reclaim its sentimental and inspirational traits to warrant their trust.
These tasks seem insurmountable when one considers the extent of the damage done to the party since Zuma’s rise to power was solidified at the ANC’s bitterly divisive Polokwane conference in 2007. But Ramaphosa has faced seemingly insurmountable tasks of building organisations in challenging times before. He has also served in various international organisations and has been a member of teams appointed to help countries in transition.
He will need to draw on all this experience to succeed.
Born on November 17, 1952, Ramaphosa is from a generation I regard as the agitators in the Struggle for South Africa’s liberation. Inspired by Steve Biko, among others, this generation – born in the early 1940s to late 1960s – injected greater momentum into the fight against apartheid in the 1970s and 1980s.
As a young person, Ramaphosa was an active member of the erstwhile Student Christian Movement (SCM) at SekanoNtoane High School in Soweto. His evangelical experience cannot be understated in the task that confronts him now. Much like the biblical character Nehemiah, his task is to inspire a dejected and hopeless people with a new vision.
That will not be a new experience for Ramaphosa. As historian Anthony Butler writes, while pursuing Standard 9 and 10 at Mphaphuli High School in his parents’ village of Sibasa in Venda, he built a stronger SCM within a short time. This was after he was elected to its leadership in the first year of his arrival.
The same happened when he went to study at the then University of the North (now University of Limpopo). The SCM was weak and seen by some as a tool of domination. Ramaphosa worked tirelessly with Frank Chikane and others to turn it into a vibrant organisation. It became a vehicle of the Struggle when the Black Consciousness student movements were banned.
Ramaphosa’s claim to fame, however, is the work he did in founding the National Union of Mineworkers in the early 1980s. NUM operated under the auspices of the Council of Unions of South Africa. Until then, attempts to unite mineworkers and fight for their representation in the mines had failed.
The fact that Ramaphosa was able to build a union in a mining industry fraught with ethnic politics, worker fragmentation and state-sanctioned exploitation attests to his organisation-building capabilities. This is especially so considering that he had never worked on the mines himself.
Ramaphosa’s colourful leadership continued over the next three decades across various settings. He became the ANC’s chief negotiator during the country’s transition from apartheid to democracy, beating ANC president Oliver Tambo’s protégé, Mbeki, to the position.
Ramaphosa became the secretarygeneral of the ANC at its 1991 national conference in Durban after out-campaigning Zuma. He was succeeded in the position in 1997 by Kgalema Motlanthe, with whom he had worked at NUM.
As the chief negotiator of the ANC, he managed the negotiating committee. He showed great leadership, alongside his National Party counterpart Roelf Meyer, when the talks broke down.
Ramaphosa became a member of Parliament in 1994 and headed the Constitutional Assembly which drew up the final constitution of the Republic. This was finally approved – to international acclaim – in 1996. After his crushing defeat by Mbeki to the post of deputy president in 1997, Ramaphosa went into business, but maintained some involvement in politics. He was to make a sterling return 15 years later when he was elected ANC deputy president in 2012 at the party’s 53rd national conference in Mangaung.
Ramaphosa was among the first beneficiaries of the first wave of equity-based black economic empowerment deals in 1997. In partnership with medical doctor and anti-apartheid activist Nthato Motlana, he joined New African Investment Limited. He was to form Shanduka Group, an unlisted entity with interests in resources, energy, real estate, banking, insurance and telecommunications. He also chaired a number of South Africa’s largest companies, such as Bidvest Group and MTN, and held non-executive board positions of others such as Standard Bank and SABMiller.
His most controversial role was as a non-executive member of the mining group Lonmin’s board. Shanduka was a minority shareholder in Lonmin, which owned the mine in Marikana where 34 miners were shot dead by police in 2012.
Ramaphosa has the leadership experience to salvage the ANC and become a great president, with a wide range of skills. He has the potential to restore hope in the top structure of the ANC following a period of mediocrity and scandal.
While he has a chance to convince ANC members of his potential, the broader South African public will be harder to convince. Firstly, as a key player at Lonmin, Ramaphosa is seen as having failed to improve the working conditions of the mineworkers he fought for in the 1980s.
Secondly, his relationship with Zuma, who he has served as deputy president, has led to some awkward questions. Until last year he appeared to be complacent – or defended Zuma even as the president became more deeply embroiled in alleged corruption scandals. This silence was evident even when Zuma was accused of violating the constitution Ramaphosa was party to creating.
It may be that Ramaphosa has the restoration and renewal narrative – as well as the organisational-building skills and tenacity to turn his own fate and that of the ANC around, but it’s going to be a “long walk”, as he put it. Time will tell. – The Conversation
BIGWIGS: Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, treasurer Zweli Mkhize and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses ANC members at a mobilisation campaign before the party’s municipal manifesto launch in 2016. He could restore credibility to the ANC’s top structure, the writer says.