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.

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