National executive committee (NEC) member and former ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola has hinted at his readiness to ascend to the top six as the deputy president of the party.
Lamola, 38, the minister of justice and correctional services and a staunch ally of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, has been touted as a possible contender for the position with some calling for him to replace the minerals and energy minister, Gwede Mantashe, as chairperson of the party.
In an interview with the Mail & Guardian at the party’s 110th birthday celebration, Lamola said he would respond to the question at the right time.
“The reality is that the ANC does need a generational mix in the top six, it does need a generational mix in the national executive committee. The moment of renewal also means renewal of leadership. We never shied away when given responsibility by the structures of the ANC but obviously at the right time we will respond and we will answer that question when the moment arises but the call for a generational mix is very important for the future stability, for the future growth and outlook of the ANC,” he said.
Lamola’s pitch comes as lobbying kicks off in the ANC to elect the next party leadership.
Limpopo ANC regions have come out in full support of Ramaphosa. The first salvo was fired by the Sekhukhune region, which publicly endorsed him.
The South African Communist Party has also thrown its weight behind Ramaphosa.
Speaking shortly before the event started in the Limpopo capital, Polokwane, SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said Ramaphosa was the ideal man for the job, although the party had not formally discussed the leadership battle.
Bheki Cele, an NEC member and the police minister, said he was fully behind Ramaphosa. “I don’t have any alternative for the president … I have nothing that can tell me I can even think of changing. If you came to me yesterday, you come with me tomorrow and ask who is my president, that will be Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa,” Cele said.
Although factions in the regions and provinces have largely shared the sentiment that Ramaphosa should receive a second term, his traditional allies have been dealt blows at recent regional conferences.
Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane suffered losses in the province, where some key regions rallied behind his rival, ANC provincial treasurer Babalo Madikizela.
Madikizela, who first supported former health minister Zweli Mkhize for ANC president at the 2017 Nasrec elective conference, was part of the Eastern Cape faction that was instrumental in Ramaphosa’s ascendance to the top job when Mkhize withdrew from the race.
Sources close to Madikizela previously told the Mail & Guardian that Ramaphosa would be the faction’s preferred candidate this year.
Ramaphosa’s ally in Limpopo, Soviet Lekganyane, was also bruised during regional conferences when the faction aligned with Danny Msiza emerged victorious.
Although Ramaphosa has avoided speculation over his availability for a second term, his deputy, David Mabuza, has already indicated that he is up for the job.