ANC presidential hopefuls deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC national executive committee member Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are heading for a showdown as both camps refuse to give up the position of president for the sake of unity, according to their supporters.
There is only a week to go before the crucial ANC conference.
uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association president Kebby Maphatsoe said Dlamini-Zuma would not agree to any proposals for her to be Ramaphosa’s deputy.
“From our side, there is still room for engagement until we reach the door of conference. On other positions we are willing to talk but on comrade Nkosazana and comrade DD [Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza] as deputy, we are not going to compromise,” he said.
With the provincial general council meetings over, it was expected that one of the camps might compromise to avoid a possible split after the conference but neither side is prepared to budge.
It has been learned that ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela reached out to Ramaphosa’s campaign team, pleading with them to reconsider their decision to dump Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu as his preferred deputy.
Last month, he called on branches to nominate Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor as his deputy but the majority of his support base has nominated Sisulu. Both Sisulu and Ramaphosa’s teams confirmed Madikizela-Mandela’s call.
An ANC national executive committee (NEC) member aligned to the Ramaphosa campaign said the team would first allow negotiations for the position of deputy president to take place before they would consider Sisulu.
“It’s difficult to decide on who should become deputy president from our side because, by doing so, we are closing debates with the other side. We are open for horse-trading. But it will be difficult to open discussions on Gwede Mantashe and Cyril Ramaphosa’s positions. The team is clear that we will not want to trade on those positions,” a senior member of Ramaphosa’s campaign team said.
The Ramaphosa lobbyist said Sisulu would stand a chance to be deputy if there were no negotiations with other ANC factions.
‘Lindiwe would have easily made it if there were no negotiations. She allowed herself to be out [of Ramaphosa slate]. She did not negotiate the deal much earlier.
“The fact that she is nominated by the majority of Ramaphosa branches in four provinces is immaterial. When people do deals, they are interested in what will win them the conference.”
Some of Ramaphosa supporters have suggested Dlamini-Zuma as his deputy and others are pushing for Mabuza, the Mpumalanga ANC chairperson. Some of Mabuza’s close comrades and funders, such as Mpumalanga tycoon Robert Gumede, are understood to be in favour of the Mpumalanga premier partnering with Ramaphosa.
Gumede has not seen eye to eye with Dlamini-Zuma since 2010 when she cancelled a multibillion-rand tender with Gijima, Gumede’s IT company that was providing services to the home affairs department.
Dlamini-Zuma is understood to favour Mabuza for deputy president and Ramaphosa won’t compromise on Mantashe being elected national chairperson.
The deputy president’s backers in North West are also unhappy with Ramaphosa’s choice for deputy president. At least three branch chairpersons in the Bojanala, Ngaka Modiri Molema and Dr Kenneth Kaunda regions said they are going to write to him to ask him to consider Mabuza for the deputy position.
“We are very clear that Pandor is not our candidate. She might have appeared as deputy on Cyril’s slate but he is on his own on that one. What Cyril needs right now is DD.
“Mpumalanga is on a knife-edge at the moment and it is available to the highest bidder,” a branch delegate in the North West said.
Ramaphosa has been officially nominated by five provinces — the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape, the Northern Cape, Gauteng and Limpopo — and Dlamini-Zuma has been nominated by four — the Free State, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and North West. Dlamini-Zuma’s support base has a larger ANC membership.
The Gauteng ANC endorsed Ramaphosa, but Dlamini-Zuma’s backers are trying to persuade chairperson Paul Mashatile to form part of their consolidated leadership.
“You can do a deal with crooked people but you can’t fool the people of Soweto; they won’t vote. Any research now will tell you that NDZ will lose Gauteng. That is why you hear NDZ people saying ‘let’s try to get Paul [Mashatile] in’,” a senior ANC leader said. “But it’s not about Paul. It’s about whether you can say to the people of Gauteng this is a different Zuma, she’s not like the previous one.”
But ANC members in Gauteng overwhelmingly rejected Dlamini-Zuma at the province’s provincial general council. Branches that backed Zuma at the Mangaung conference are now linked to Ramaphosa, because Dlamini-Zuma was associated with the president, whom the province largely blames for its local government election defeats in Johannesburg and Tshwane in the 2016, he said.
Ramaphosa’s lead in the nominations does not guarantee his victory at the conference. This week Dlamini-Zuma’s senior lobbyists traversed the country, counting the number of delegates supporting them in each province.
Because of this perceived majority support, negotiations are now off the table, ANC Eastern Cape leader Andile Lungisa said. “We are no longer negotiating now. We have closed all negotiations. We have got our delegates and we are ready for the conference.”
The threat of nominations being invalidated by delegates being bribed before the conference is also real. This week, ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said bribed delegates should keep the money but follow through on their mandate. Sisulu also said last week that delegates are being bribed.
Maphatsoe also believes delegates are being bribed — but by foreign security forces and white monopoly capitalists.
“When we spoke about regime change, people didn’t believe us. Now it’s open for all to see. Big business and these ratings agencies,” he said.
“When people say, ‘If you don’t vote for so and so, your country will be downgraded’, they are trying to influence internal ANC matters.”
Meanwhile, in KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC’s Youth League wants the party to dump the EleXions Agency, which has been overseeing the consolidation of branch nominations at the party’s provincial general council meetings, claiming that it is biased.
The youth league’s provincial secretary, Thanduxolo Sabelo, said on Thursday they had written to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe to complain after a recount they demanded found flaws in the process.
Although the recount in Durban did not materially change the outcome of the provincial nomination, it did increase Dlamini-Zuma’s tally by 21 to 454 branches.
Ramaphosa’s share of the branch nominations dropped from 193 to 191.