Ramaphosa has ‘no interest’ to lead ANC

Businessman Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday said he has no interest in joining the African National Congress (ANC) presidential succession race — this after the Sunday Times reported that Ramaphosa had joined the race.

”As I have said in the past, I have no interest in standing for this position,” he said in a statement. ”Like all ANC members I am confident that this matter will be clarified in accordance with the policies, organisational culture and processes of the ANC.”

The Sunday Times said the ANC’s OR Tambo district in the Eastern Cape had formally stated that it would nominate Ramaphosa for the presidency. The OR Tambo district, which incorporates Port St Johns and Ntabankulu, is one of the party’s most powerful regions.

For Ramaphosa to succeed in the contest for the ANC leadership, he would need the support of organised groupings within the tripartite alliance, said Steven Friedman, of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa.

Party spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama would not comment on the report. ”We are still waiting for the nomination process to start,” he said.

The newspaper reported that the ANC’s OR Tambo district in the Eastern Cape had formally stated that it would nominate Ramaphosa — a former union leader and transition negotiator — for the presidency, quoting regional secretary Mlamli Siyakholwa as saying ”we have been lobbying Ramaphosa, I must admit”.

Siyakholwa could not be reached to provide further details.


However, Friedman said Ramaphosa is popular both in the country and with ANC delegates. ”[But] unless he has the support of organised groupings, such as [ANC deputy leader] Jacob Zuma has with the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, it will be very difficult for him.”

Friedman said that because branch-level support will be required at December’s national ANC conference, Ramaphosa’s supporters will have to lobby at branch meetings ”and before branch meetings”.

He added: ”He [Ramaphosa] must be able to translate potential support to the kind of support that can mount a serious campaign for him in December.”

The Sunday Times reported Siyakholwa saying that Ramaphosa had been approached as a candidate in the interests of the party’s unity. This was in order to avoid a divisive battle between President Thabo Mbeki and Zuma.

While the region is pro-Zuma, the provincial leadership’s stance is that Mbeki should serve a third term as ANC president.

”It is not because we do not want JZ [Zuma] any more,” Siyakholwa was quoted as saying. ”We feel that with the serious contestation of KwaZulu-Natal strongly in support of Zuma and Eastern Cape strongly in support of Mbeki, the ANC will suffer if either of these two comrades wins.”

Ramaphosa is said to be receptive to views that he should stand for the party presidency, but has been absent from any of the leadership tussles.

Support for Mbeki

Meanwhile, City Press newspaper reported that Mbeki supporters are believed to have built a strong network that cuts across provinces in an effort to have him elected as party leader for a third term.

The newspaper said that, according to insiders, the campaign is led by Deputy Defence Minister Mluleki George and is coordinated by businessman and ANC Youth League national executive committee member Andile Nkuhlu.

The newspaper added that one of the camp’s more recent meetings, in July, was held in Gauteng on the same weekend as the ANC’s last national executive committee gathering.

It named prominent ANC leaders said to be working for Mbeki to be re-elected as Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza, Northern Cape Premier Dipuo Peters, her finance minister Pikes Dikgetsi, and Western Cape party chairperson James Ngculu and Premier Ebrahim Rasool.

The paper further reported it had been told by ”activists” that studies pointed out that Mbeki had the highest support in the Eastern Cape, followed by Limpopo, North West, the Northern Cape and Gauteng. He has the least in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, the report added.

Gauteng remains a closed chapter with leaders reluctant to back either the Mbeki of Zuma camps.

City Press further reported that the network of Mbeki supporters is about to reach consensus on who should work with him on the party’s top-six structure. It reported that a list currently in circulation has Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on top, set to replace her ex-husband, Zuma, as deputy president of the party. — Sapa

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