/ 8 November 2022

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka ‘an ANC member in good standing’ – Vets’ League’s Snuki Zikalala

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

ANC Veterans’ League president Snuki Zikalala has defended the nomination of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as the party’s deputy president, saying that she is a member of the ANC in good standing. 

The ANC’s constitution states that only card-carrying members who have been in the party for 10 years or more can stand for a “top six” position as well as for the NEC. 

The veterans’ league held a meeting on Monday to decide who would be their candidates for the ANC’s national elective conference in December. 

Mlambo-Ngcuka was nominated alongside the party’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, with Joel Netshitenzhe as their preferred candidate for chairperson, Gwen Ramokgopa as the secretary general, Febe Potgieter-Gqubule as deputy secretary general and Barbara Creecy as treasurer general. 

Speaking to the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday, veterans’ league president Snuki Zikalala denied Mlambo-Ngcuka had joined the Congress of the People (Cope), saying that he had met her to ascertain the status of her ANC membership. 

“I had a meeting because of these rumours and allegations that she was a member of Cope … she said no, she never joined Cope but comrades who were marginalised within the ANC came to consult with her and she did have meetings with them but she never, never joined Cope, never,” he said. 

This is in contrast with Mlambo-Ngcuka’s own words. In an interview with the SABC last year, she said she had briefly joined Cope but her heart was with the ANC and she had rejoined the party.  

This was confirmed by Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem, who said Mlambo-Ngcuka joined Cope soon after it was formed (in 2008) but soon left because of party infighting. 

“She was a member of Cope, she was not just a supporter of Cope, but her membership lapsed years ago; it was only for a year or so that she was in Cope. After the infighting, she decided to leave Cope,” he said. 

Zikalala added that even Ramaphosa and former president Thabo Mbeki had stated during a national executive committee (NEC) meeting that Mlambo-Ngcuka was a member in good standing and an active member of her ANC branch.

“Comrade Ramaphosa made it clear to all members of the NEC who were there that she is a resource, she has experience, she has knowledge, she is competent, and let comrades make use of her availability in every work of the ANC. That was an appeal and it’s recorded in the NEC, made by Comrade Ramaphosa,” he said. 

Zikalala said the veterans’ league had decided to nominate Mlambo-Ngcuka because of her credentials, her clean record and her gender. 

He added that the veterans’ league wanted to nominate people who were not tainted by scandal or corruption allegations. He added that the veterans’ league observed that only male ANC leaders were being nominated for the deputy president position and the veterans wanted to nominate a female leader.

“We have to ensure that the values, traditions of the ANC are adhered to and we have to elect people of high moral standards. That is why we then chose her as a deputy president of the African National Congress.” 

Zikalala said Mlambo-Ngcuka had indicated that she would accept the nomination, adding that she wanted to be more involved in the ANC because she has been with community programmes since returning from her position as the executive director of UN Women.

In a recent interview with the SABC, Mlambo-Ngcuka said it was important to create space for younger people.

“If they have recycled me, that means we are not in the right situation. I do want to encourage more young people to get into politics but I want to be there behind them so that they can take the space.” 

Some NEC members, who spoke to the M&G on condition of anonymity, expressed doubt about Mlambo-Ngcuka’s eligibility to contest the national ANC elections. 

Talks about Mlambo-Ngcuka contesting the ANC elections surfaced shortly after Mbeki reemerged in active politics. As a key ally of Mbeki, some believe she is part of his strategy to have more of an influential role in the ANC’s political direction.

Another criticism of the veterans’ league nominations has been that they resemble the United Democratic Front brigade; many of the nominees for the NEC had some relationship with the anti-apartheid umbrella body launched in 1983. 

Reacting, Zikalala said all those who have been nominated by the veterans’ league were comrades who had shown commitment to their roots in the ANC. “So these comrades will never disappoint us. They will make sure that we bring back the ANC to its original values. 

“We chose these women because they’re competent, [they have] the skills, they are committed to serve society … If we don’t have people who have this calibre within the African National Congress in 2024, society will just sit back and say, ‘No, I won’t vote for people who are stealing, people who are corrupt, people who don’t deliver on our set objectives.’ We have to face reality … we want to bring back the integrity and dignity of the African National Congress,” he said.