Cape Times


- Lebogang Seale and Bheki Mbanjwa

CYRIL RAMAPHOSA might have won the battle to govern the ANC last night, but now the compositio­n of the party’s top six will provide the sternest test of his leadership yet.

Last night he received a top six evenly split between his camp and that of his rival, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Ramaphosa pipped Dlamini Zuma to the party’s top position in an incredibly close and tense election race that delayed proceeding­s in the five-day ANC national conference by more than a day.

Ramaphosa won the presidency by 179 votes, while the two other candidates on his slate – former secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and Gauteng ANC chairperso­n Paul Mashatile – were elected national chairperso­n and treasurer-general respective­ly.

The all important secretaria­t, based at party headquarte­rs at Luthuli House, however went to the members of the other slate, Ace Magashule and Jessie Duarte, with Mpumalanga kingmaker David Mabuza elected deputy president with the greatest margin of all candidates.

The outcome was a big surprise, effectivel­y forging the unity that outgoing party president Jacob Zuma had tried to create before the conference.

The outcome left most delegates in the hall confused, with many seemingly stunned in disbelief.

While Ramaphosa’s victory theoretica­lly paves the way for him to become South Africa’s next president at the 2019 general election, should the ANC win at the polls, he still has to unite a party fractured by Zuma’s legacy and the election battle, and spark an ailing economy plagued by internatio­nal credit rating downgrades.

Ramaphosa himself was seen wiping away tears as it sank in that he had won.

The outcome was too much to handle for other senior leaders. Bathabile Dlamini, the ANC Women’s League president who had backed Dlamini Zuma, was seen openly crying as she, Human Settlement­s Minister Lindiwe Zulu and others huddled in an office in the media lounge, planning their next move.

This compositio­n of the new top six appeared to stun senior ANC members, apparently pondering how they were going to unite the two slates that had fought a bitter election.

Apart from the secretaria­t positions going to the proDlamini Zuma slate, Mabuza took the powerful position of deputy president, effectivel­y pitting him against Ramaphosa.

It remains to be seen how Ramaphosa will deal with the thorny issue of state capture and corruption as he is likely to face fierce resistance from the pro-Zuma bloc in the top six.

The compositio­n of the top six also upset the ANC’s gender equity plans as only one woman made it on the list. Sisulu who was tipped to become Ramaphosa’s deputy, had her ambitions thwarted after she was defeated by Mabuza.

After the results for the top six were announced, the conference proceeded to accept nomination­s from the rest of the floor for the remaining 80 NEC members to be chosen.

While Ramaphosa’s victory was widely celebrated, it may be the beginning of a fresh power struggle or the emergence of the so-called two centres of power, as Mabuza is also seen as a proxy for Zuma.

The power struggle could well play out within the party and government for the remainder of Zuma’s term as state president.

The election of the Zuma backers to the top six could also mean Ramaphosa might find himself hamstrung in efforts to improve service delivery in government as he might have difficulti­es axing a host of cabinet ministers seen as incompeten­t, and those seen as linked to corrupt activities – such as Mabuza and Magashule themselves.

Throughout his campaign, he has repeatedly said that those implicated in acts of corruption and state capture must be prosecuted.

Also, any efforts to reduce Zuma to a lame-duck president are likely to be met with resistance from his close allies within the party leadership.

Expectatio­ns were that with Ramaphosa – a technocrat who is seen to be close to business – as the president, the economy would improve.

However, others have warned against seeing a Ramaphosa win as a silver bullet to the sluggish economic growth, fiscal deficit and widening tax revenue gap South Africa is experienci­ng.

THERE appeared to be tears in the eyes of Cyril Ramaphosa last night as he was announced president of the ANC. The process had been delayed for more than two hours by recounts. The stress had been unbearable for the country watching – we can only begin to hazard a guess at the toll it took on the man who will become the country’s next president, if the ANC wins the 2019 general election.

He won a hard-fought battle, one that was characteri­sed by the viciousnes­s of the dark arts of electoral dirty tricks, character assassinat­ion and downright fake news.

In the end, the margins between the candidates were small. In the case of the secretary-general position, Ace Magashule (2 360) took the position against Senzo Mchunu (2 336) with a margin of only 24 votes.

In the end, Ramaphosa has an executive leadership equally matched between those who had supported him, two who had backed his failed rival, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and one, David Mabuza, the kingmaker from Mpumalanga, as his deputy.

The election of the balance of the 86-seat national executive council will be as fascinatin­g, but already Ramaphosa has his work cut out for him.

His predecesso­r, Jacob Zuma, had worked tirelessly for a “unity” slate, out of fear that the party would split given the gulf between the two factions – and perhaps more than a modicum of self-interest, given the legal Everest that awaits him.

The top six elected last night is a unity slate in everything but name, emerging out of fierce contestati­on and very small majorities – showing that the one faction cannot exist without the other.

The reality is that the two groups are fundamenta­lly different both in terms of their broader political philosophy and how they envisage the direction in which the party has to move to remain relevant and indeed flourish in an increasing­ly fractious political space.

Ramaphosa won a position last night that many would have believed had been denied him in 1994. He will have an uphill battle to ensure he becomes president of South Africa in 2019.

 ?? Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency/ANA ?? UNITED: Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma congratula­tes Cyril Ramaphosa moments after it was announced he had beat her in the race for the ANC presidency.
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency/ANA UNITED: Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma congratula­tes Cyril Ramaphosa moments after it was announced he had beat her in the race for the ANC presidency.

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