SA waits with bated breath as leadership race nears climax
As of today, South Africa is a step closer to seeing the back of President Jacob Zuma, as he is scheduled to deliver his last political report to more than 4 000 ANC voting delegates as the ruling party’s head.
His term of office as state president is also on shaky ground, depending on who wins the watershed five-day conference being held at Nasrec.
There are two key presidential candidates – his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
To mark his departure at Luthuli House, the party’s headquarters, Zuma hosted a farewell function for his staff last week.
From today, the focus will be on the two presidential frontrunners.
Intense lobbying continued until late last night, as the contest will not necessarily be a two-horse race, as the likes of Zweli Mkhize and Mathews Phosa have not yet thrown in the towel in vying for the top post.
Among the deals brokered ahead of this weekend’s conference is the one signed and sealed on Wednesday between Ramaphosa and Lindiwe Sisulu, which will likely see Ramaphosa supporters dumping Naledi Pandor, Ramaphosa’s favoured deputy candidate, for former MK operative Sisulu.
It is believed this was after Sisulu felt she was on the back foot following her public statements questioning Gwede Mantashe’s struggle credentials, three months ago.
Sisulu, while addressing Cofimvaba residents in October, blamed Mantashe for the weakening of the ANC/Cosatu/SACP alliance. She also criticised the ANC secretarygeneral, who now appears as national chairman in the newly reconciled lineup, for declaring his support for Ramaphosa.
“All I can say is that statement nearly cost her career as a politician, so we had to come up with a plan and work the ground,” a Sisulu ally said.
Lobbying teams have been meeting since last week, which resulted in Sisulu and Ramaphosa meeting for the first time to discuss the details of the deal on Wednesday. Sisulu’s core is led by Bob Mhlanga, while Bheki Cele is leading the Ramaphosa team of negotiators.
“The five-a-side group initiated the discussion. A breakthrough was realised on Wednesday here in Johannesburg when CR and Lindi met and the deal was signed and sealed,” another source said.
Sisulu was nominated by four provinces to be a deputy president – Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and Western Cape.
The newly reconciled national executive committee additional list reveals that if Ramaphosa wins, Bheki Cele will top the list, followed by Kgalema Motlanthe, Blade Nzimande, Joel Netshitenzhe and Jackson Mthembu in the top five of the additional members.
The only Eastern Cape politicians in the proposed top-80 NEC are Mcebisi Jonas, Enoch Godongwana, Pam Tshwete and Thulas Nxesi.
Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign was dealt a heavy blow yesterday when the Mafikeng High Court declared the Bojanala regional conference held in September null and void, meaning 50 branches would be unable to take part in the conference.
North West province was the backbone of the Dlamini-Zuma campaign, with the majority of branches in the province having nominated NDZ during the provincial general meetings.
But Dlamini-Zuma supporters were also upbeat last night, saying whether groupings merged or not, the former African Union leader would be announced as the new ANC president come tomorrow.
NDZ lobbyist Teris Ntutu said: “We will leave here having Nkosazana as the new ANC president.”
Dlamini-Zuma’s line up has David Mabuza as deputy president, Ace Magashule as secretary-general, Jessie Duarte as deputy secretary, Nkoane Mashwabane-Maite as treasurer, and Nathi Mthethwa as national chairman.
Ramaphosa has Sisulu as his deputy, Senzo Mchunu as secretary-general, Zingiswa Losi as deputy secretary, Paul Mashatile as general treasurer and Gwede Mantashe as national chairman.