Johannesburg – ANC deputy President David Mabuza’s home region of Mpumalanga has backed Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola for the position of deputy president at the ANC national conference in December, causing speculation about what Mabuza’s next move would be.
This week’s decision by the ANC Ehlanzeni region follows the Mpumalanga provincial executive committee (PEC) announcing last weekend that it would support President Cyril Ramaphosa to be retained as party leader and Lamola to be his deputy. The ANC in Mpumalanga also started lobbying other provinces to discuss the composition of the party’s top six.ANC Ehlanzeni secretary Folas Sibuyi said the regional executive committee (REC) resolved to endorse the PEC’s decision that Ramaphosa is given a second term and for Lamola to be supported for the position of deputy president. The REC also backed several members of Ramaphosa’s executive to return to the ANC national executive committee (NEC) after December’s conference including Dr Reginah Mhaule, David Mahlobo and Fish Mahlalela, among others.
KwaZulu-Natal is likely to choose between former health minister Zweli Mkhize and NEC member Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Ramaphosa also received the endorsement of the ANC in the Eastern Cape, which unanimously resolved to support and lobby for him to be re-elected. The ANC Eastern Cape PEC will back its provincial chairperson Oscar Mabuyane to be elected Ramaphosa’s deputy and wants the party’s national chairperson Gwede Mantashe to retain his position.
However, some women ANC members in the Eastern Cape have raised Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams’s name for the position of deputy president. Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi, the co-ordinator of the ANC Women’s League provincial task team in the Eastern Cape, would not indicate whether or not they would support Ndabeni-Abrahams.The ANC PEC proposed that the party should for the first time in its history elect a woman as secretary-general, a position that has been vacant since the suspension of Ace Magashule last year. The party’s electoral committee chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe has urged branches to extend the rule requiring that women make up at least 50% of all elected structures to the nominations of national officials as a collective to ensure that at least three nominees for the top six are women.
Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has also been touted as one of the candidates to contest the ANC deputy president position. Another region that has announced its preferences for the conference is Ekurhuleni, which supports ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile to be deputy president, head of organising and NEC member Nomvula Mokonyane as deputy secretary-general and its regional chairperson Mzwandile Masina to replace Mashatile as treasurer-general.However, the region did not indicate whether or not it would support Ramaphosa. Acting ANC Ekurhuleni secretary Moipone Mhlongo said the region would seek leadership and guidance from the PEC on the positions it had not pronounced on.“While this remains a process of branches it is imperative that the leadership plays a role to guide, co-ordinate, lobby and influence for the emergence of this perspective,” said Mhlongo. Mashatile has also received support from the ANC PEC in Limpopo, which has also expressed its support for Ramaphosa’s second term as party leader.
The ANC PEC in Limpopo wants provincial chairperson Stanley Mathabatha to be elected national chairperson. Several provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga, have decided to engage others on the names of the top six. KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga officials met this week to discuss their approach to the national conference.
University of the Free State’s Professor Sethulego Matebesi told the “Sunday Independent” that what had taken centre stage so far was Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s confirmation that she would again run against Ramaphosa. Dlamini Zuma narrowly lost to Ramaphosa in December 2017.“This has huge implications for Mkhize and (Tourism Minister) Lindiwe Sisulu. The ongoing deliberations between KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga could possibly see the deputy president position being offered to someone who will be on the Mpumalanga slate in exchange for support of the KwaZulu-Natal presidential candidate,” he said.
Matebesi said Mabuza was facing an uphill battle in his bid to return to the top six due to the manner he conducted himself in the run-up to the last national conference. Mabuza was accused of dumping Dlamini Zuma for Ramaphosa on the eve of the national conference under the guise of unity. Political analyst Lukhona Mnguni said at the 2017 national conference three provincial chairpersons emerged in the top six of the ANC, which was something that had not been seen before.
“It was a significant turning point and it seems some people have an appetite to make that a culture in the ANC.” Mnguni was referring to the election of Mabuza, Magashule and Mashatile, who at the time were chairpersons of Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng, respectively.
“There have emerged power brokers and what has become clear is that some people now want to use their ascendancy to positions such as provincial chairpersons to be a stepping ladder not to lead the province but actually to go to the top positions within the NEC,” he said.
Mnguni also indicated that it was possible that branches could remain unswayed by the PEC and REC pronouncements of their preferred leaders.
“But at times this is visited upon with consequences wherein branches that don’t seem to nominate in a similar manner as proposed by higher structures get harassed, bullied and eventually at times they even get suspended and administered,” he said.
Governance expert and political analyst Sandile Swana said the nominated candidates came from a well-established history of failure and mediocrity, including the president.
“In the entire lot, challenging for the presidency and deputy presidency is that there are no Auditor-Generals or StatsSA reports that show any candidate, including Ramaphosa from 2012 until now to be a superior performer.
“Municipalities are in tatters, the district development is nowhere to be seen. The courts are slums and fraught with general corruption. The Department of Communications was a failure under Ndabeni Abrahams. The Eastern Cape as a whole is a total failure. So these are all candidates who come from a well-established history of failure and mediocrity and general non-performance,” Swana said.