Dip in ANC support for Ramaphosa leaves second term an open question

While it’s clear that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s allies are losing ground in provinces that have already concluded regional conferences ahead of the ruling ANC’s elective conference next year, some insiders say those ideologically opposed to him are still wrestling with whether he should be supported for a second term as party leader.

Ramaphosa’s traditional allies in two of the biggest provinces in the ANC – Limpopo and the Eastern Cape – have lost regional conferences, the latest being the Peter Mokaba region which sat on Wednesday. 

Those aligned to the so-called radical economic transformation (RET) faction, which opposes Ramaphosa, are also gaining ground in KwaZulu-Natal, having won in the General Gizenga Mpanza region this month. 

ANC regional leaders allied with suspended provincial treasurer Danny Msiza have already claimed the Vhembe and Sekhukhune sub-regions in Limpopo, although the pro-Ramaphosa faction won the biggest region, Norman Mashabane, earlier this year.

Msiza – seen as an ally of suspended secretary general Ace Magashule – is set to be a leading figure when the ANC goes to its national elective conference in 2022.

He is believed to have control of the Limpopo provincial executive committee and this was evident when the province sought its own legal guidance on the party’s step-aside resolution, which compels those facing criminal charges to step down from their posts. 

Limpopo secretary Soviet Lekganyane was unable to enforce the rule under his own steam to remove Msiza from the party leadership, and had to call in help from ANC  deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte to do so.

But while the recent ANC regional elective conference outcomes have demonstrated that Ramaphosa is weak in terms of support on the ground, one party leader aligned to Msiza said the results did not necessarily signify that he would be out in the cold next year. 

“There is nothing cast in stone, this is politics. We need to weigh the options. Some of us are of the view that Ramaphosa should get another term and the bigger debate should be around who will deputise him. It’s too early to say if he will be contested,” the party leader said. 

The same sentiment is shared by those in Eastern Cape treasurer Babalo Madikizela’s faction. Some in his corner have indicated previously to the Mail & Guardian that the bruising losses suffered by provincial chairperson and Ramaphosa ally Oscar Mabuyane at regional conferences might not necessarily affect Ramaphosa. 

Mabuyane lost some key regions to the Madikizela faction in the province, although he managed to retain OR Tambo, the ANC’s second-biggest region nationally. 

Even if Ramaphosa does win a second term as ANC president, if the regional conferences in which his allies have suffered losses are anything to go by, he could very well end up with few or no allies among the party’s top six officials.

When the M&G spoke to Magashule in a recent wide-ranging interview, the suspended secretary general indicated that the ANC’s next elective conference would be “bumpy” and that Ramaphosa’s position would also be up for grabs.

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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