Cyril picks team, but purge niggles remain

Cyril Ramaphosa takes the bull by the horns. Image Facebook

Cyril Ramaphosa is winning everywhere. The branches that have nominated candidates are putting him two-to-one to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. He announced his ‘winning team’ at the weekend, with Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor as his running mate. Meanwhile, it is still believed President Jacob Zuma will kick him out as Deputy President of the country this week

The battle for the ANC party is in full swing, with EWN reporting that WhatsApp messages purportedly sent between Ramaphosa’s campaigners suggest “he’ll be removed from cabinet before December”. That would be a plus for Ramaphosa – it means he will be freed up to devote his attention to his position as deputy-president of the African National Congress – during the remaining weeks he will still hold that position.

It (spreading the story about being kicked out) could, of course, be a strategy to outfox President Zuma – who himself was booted out of the cabinet by President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki himself was, of course, booted out as president of the ANC by Zuma in 2007.

Ramaphosa told the national assembly during question time last Thursday that it remained the president’s prerogative who served in his cabinet. “If the decision is to remove me, I will accept that… I will continue serving the people of South Africa in one form, shape or another.”

Of course, that could imply a number of things – that he expects to win the vote for president of the African National Congress in December. Or that if he loses to Dlamini-Zuma, he would then walk out of the ANC – and form a new political movement, much like the Congress of the People – or even the Economic Freedom Fighters. Both parties were formed by disaffected members of the African National Congress.

At a campaign rally at Tafelkopp stadium,Ga-Sekhukhune in Limpopo – his home province – he announced his top six line-up for the ANC elective conference to be held from December 16 to 20.

Pandor is ranked as ANC deputy president, Gwede Mantashe is selected for national chairperson and Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile is on his slate for treasurer general. Former KwaZulu Natal chairperson Senzo Mchunu – also a former premier of KZN – is up for secretary-general.

Significantly in January this year, the Gupta mouthpiece The New Age, cited that the Ramaphosa supporters were backing Zweli Mkhize – the current treasurer general – as Deputy President. A slate reported on at the time put Thandi Modise – the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces – in as national chairperson. Gauteng Premier David Makhura was slated as secretary general with Enoch Godongwana – a senior official in the NEC, who has recently been linked to a Redisa alleged bribery scandal – in top place as treasurer-general. None of these names appear on the new slate.

Significantly, presidential candidate Mkhize – when asked by the Mail & Guardian whether he would back Ramaphosa or Dlamini-Zuma, said that the assessment of the various leaders’ strengths would be done at the conference. Reading between the lines, his view is that decisions could be taken about backing one or other candidate at that point.

Asked about the speculation that he could collapse his campaign and stand as deputy president to Ramaphosa, Mkhize said: At this moment, we are all just out there, making ourselves available. The best time to discuss this would be when we have the nominations in.

Asked about the speculation that he was a proxy candidate for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, he said there had been no approaches from this camp. “Our names are out there, and being debated, and people are wanting to do their speculation.”

In September another “slate” was mentioned. At that point Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was cited as Ramaphosa’s second in command with Febe Potgieter-Gubule, former adviser to the chairperson of the AU Commission Febe Potgieter-Gqubule also on the slate. Neither is on the latest slate.

Meanwhile, the M&G reported that of the 1138 ANC branches – out of a total of some 3800 branches in good standing that had held their branch general meetings -768 had nominated Ramaphosa as ANC president. Just 360 had nominated Dlamini-Zuma.

ANC presidential hopeful Mkhize is speaking at the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday the 8th of November.

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