The pres­i­dent de­liv­ers the ANC’s elec­tion man­i­festo in Dur­ban to­day, an ideal op­por­tu­nity for him to con­sol­i­date his po­si­tion in the party ... but Ja­cob Zuma lurks in the shad­ows.

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - FRONT PAGE - Brian Sokutu – bri­[email protected]­ti­

He must es­tab­lish him­self as the le­git­i­mate leader of the party – an­a­lyst.

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s maiden ANC an­niver­sary ad­dress to­day is ex­pected to con­sol­i­date his po­si­tion as a cred­i­ble, ac­cepted and le­git­i­mate leader of the rul­ing party.

As the ANC yes­ter­day pulled out all the stops to draw crowds to Dur­ban’s Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium for to­day’s launch of its elec­tion man­i­festo, Ma­pun­gubwe In­sti­tute for Strate­gic Re­flec­tion re­search di­rec­tor Su­san Booy­sen said it was the pres­i­dent’s chance to show his strength.

The 2019 ANC man­i­festo, sig­nalling a wa­ter­shed mo­ment for the ANC and the coun­try, was also ex­pected to be “one of the most im­por­tant for Ramaphosa”, with jobs, trans­for­ma­tion, so­cial co­he­sion, racism and land fea­tur­ing promi­nently.

“The man­i­festo is of dual sig­nif­i­cance. On one hand, it takes place to mark the 107th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion of the ANC and on an­other, it un­der­scores the start of the party’s cam­paign for this year’s elec­tions,” Booy­sen said.

“It is ac­cen­tu­ated by the fact that it has to con­sol­i­date Ramaphosa’s po­si­tion as the cred­i­ble, ac­cepted and le­git­i­mate leader of the ANC.”

With the ANC lead­er­ship hav­ing spent much time ap­peal­ing to KwaZulu-Na­tal for sup­port, driv­ing a mes­sage of party unity and re­newal that ear­lier showed signs of be­ing riven by fac­tion­al­ism, Booy­sen said the man­i­festo would sig­nal to South Africans “how con­fi­dent the ANC is in its new iden­tity”.

She added: “What peo­ple will be look­ing for­ward to, is to hear whether the party is now con­fi­dent to move for­ward un­am­bigu­ously as a post-Ja­cob Zuma ANC.”

Un­der Zuma’s stew­ard­ship, the ANC be­came frag­mented, with de­clin­ing pop­u­lar sup­port, as re­flected in a siz­able swing in votes to­wards the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers in the last polls.

This led to the ANC suf­fer­ing losses in Tsh­wane, Jo­han­nes­burg and Nel­son Man­dela met­ro­pol­i­tan coun­cils. Tes­ti­mony by wit­nesses ap­pear­ing be­fore the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into State Cap­ture last year also largely pointed to the in­flu­ence of Zuma’s al­lies, the in­fa­mous Gupta fam­ily, who al­legedly forced govern­ment of­fi­cials to ac­cede to pres­sure in award­ing mas­sive govern­ment con­tracts to the fam­ily.

Asked whether Ramaphosa’s re­cent pub­lic show of unity be­tween him­self and Zuma, whom he walked with to lay wreaths at the rest­ing place of ANC found­ing father, Dr John Lan­gal­ibalele Dube, and Zuma’s pres­ence at the Jan­uary 8 State­ment, was a strate­gic move, Booy­sen said: “It was in­deed strate­gic for Ramaphosa to share a stage with Zuma in KwaZulu-Na­tal.

“There has been a com­pro­mise made, an un­easy coex­is­tence be­tween the old and the new lead­er­ship within the ANC.

“The chal­lenge for Ramaphosa now is to move for­ward to show the coun­try that we are now not deal­ing with a com­pro­mised ANC, and that he no longer needs Zuma next to him.”

Ramaphosa has been de­ter­mined to mend any cracks in ANC unity that may have been caused by the party lead­er­ship per­suad­ing Zuma to step down as the coun­try’s pres­i­dent fol­low­ing Ramaphosa’s 2017 elec­tion as party leader.

On the cam­paign trail in KwaZulu-Na­tal, Ramaphosa con­sis­tently pushed for the co­he­sion of the party ahead of the un­veil­ing of its elec­tion man­i­festo.

Wear­ing a black cap bear­ing the num­ber 1912 – the year the ANC was formed – Ramaphosa spent yes­ter­day briefly talk­ing to com­muters at the Berea taxi rank, be­fore ad­dress­ing a gala din­ner aimed at rais­ing funds for the party.

Man­i­festo sig­nals ANC con­fi­dence in new iden­tity.

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