ANC secretary General Gwede Mantashe has defended the party’s decision to deploy Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to Parliament, dismissing criticism that the decision was approved because she is a Zuma.
The secretary general was speaking in Vosloorus on Sunday at an OR Tambo memorial lecture hosted by Ekurhuleni’s Grace Flathela zone.
He was asked by a concerned local ANC member why the party was allowing Parliament to start looking like it was run by a family, a criticism Mantashe quickly dismissed.
“Some of us don’t subscribe to that thing that says comrades are identified by family. When there were many Zuma’s exiled in the struggle nobody was asking ‘why are there so many of them?’ he said.
“But when people have an issue they begin to say ‘it’s a family’. When those people went out individually to join uMkhonto weSizwe nobody raised that”.
Mantashe said there were many others such as Jabu Moleketi and Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi as well as Charles Nqakula and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula who served in the ANC together.
Last week, the party confirmed that Dlamini-Zuma would be sworn in as an MP following the departure of National Executive Committee (NEC) member Pule Mabe from the national assembly.
There are reports that President Jacob Zuma may effect another reshuffle that could see Dlamini-Zuma sworn into Cabinet as part of preparations for his exit strategy.
Delegates gathered at the Vosloorus Civic Centre to hear Mantashe’s address sang “we are ready for Ramaphosa” declaring their support for the deputy president in the succession race.
Jovial party members were reprimanded however, by local ANC leaders for promoting factionalism by singing the song, which was first sung for Dlamini-Zuma at an ANC Women’s League rally in Ekurhuleni in August.
The Ekurhuleni region is currently divided on who to support ahead of the December elective conference. Earlier this month branches revolted against the Regional Executive Committee (REC) led by known Zuma ally Mzwandile Masina, after it declared its support for Dlamini-Zuma without receiving directive from the lower structures.
Another Grace Flatela ANC member asked Mantashe to stop being coy and make it clear that it was ANC tradition for a deputy to succeed the president.
Mantashe said while there was nothing wrong with some people holding this view, he believed deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa also needed to be critically scrutinised by branches and not simply be given a position because of a perceived tradition.
“Branches must still interrogate the deputy president of the ANC and assess whether he meets the leadership criteria of the ANC. The deputy president can’t run away from that scrutiny,” Mantashe said.
At the National Working Committee (NWC) meeting last week, we adopted a view that branches must have the right to invite candidates to their Branch General Meetings (BGMs). And if you are in conflict over two candidates, you should be able to call both to present themselves before the branch to make an informed decision”.
Mantashe has appeared to be a favourite among both the Dlamini-Zuma and the Ramaphosa factions.
Although he has turned down requests to avail himself for the deputy president position, he is likely to appear as a candidate for chairperson on the slates of both groups.