Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Battle for ANC Presidency Heats Up: Ramaphosa vs Dlamini-Zuma
Thapelo Lekabe
South African Citizen

Photos: Presidential hopefuls Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa.

The next leader of Africa’s oldest liberation movement faces a mammoth task of bridging the divides within the party.

The African National Congress’ (ANC) leadership succession race has begun, with the main contenders for the top job, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and outgoing African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, set to face each other at the ruling party’s 54 national elective conference next year.

Although the ANC has cautioned its leagues and alliance partners against jumping the gun by making pronouncements on the party’s succession debate, at least Ramaphosa has given his clearest indication that he is ready to throw his hat into the ring to take over the reins from President Jacob Zuma.

While Dlamini-Zuma, who has got the backing of the so-called “Premier’s League”, an informal ANC lobby group purportedly led by the premiers and provincial chairpersons of the Free State, North West and Mpumalanga, has previously said there is nothing wrong if the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) wanted a female president.

“Women need to take their rightful place in society,” she said in response to The Citizen’s question on the sidelines of a joint sitting of the Africa Editors’ Forum and Press Officers in Pretoria in October. “They need to be in leadership, academia, the economy and the judiciary.”

The next leader of Africa’s oldest liberation movement faces a mammoth task of bridging the divides within the party. SA Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande has been recently quoted as saying not since 2007 has there been such divisions among the ANC’s national leadership and the willful bypassing of positions on matters relating to state-owned enterprises, including the controversial nuclear build programme and “state capture” allegations.

Last week, Wednesday Ramaphosa said he was available to take on the position of president of the ANC and ultimately head of state in 2019.

“It would be very humbling to get into a key position like that, to lead,” he said in an interview with Power FM. “I am available to stand.”

The former businessman is 64 years old and is the second of three children. He grew up in Soweto and went to a local primary school and Sekano-Ntoane High School in the township. In 1971, he matriculated from Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa, Limpopo.

In 1972, he registered at the University of the North (Turfloop) for a BProc degree.

Ramaphosa is married to Dr. Tshepo Motsepe, and they have four children.

Dlamini-Zuma, who has served under two of the country’s first democratically elected presidents, is 67 years old. She was born in Natal (KwaZulu-Natal) and is the eldest of eight children.

She obtained her secondary education at Amanzimtoti Training College and started her tertiary studies 1971 at the University of Zululand, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Science (BSc) and left the country in 1976 to complete her MB ChB at the University of Bristol in 1978.

She was married to Zuma from 1972 to 1998, and they have four children together.

Dlamini-Zuma’s tenure as AU chairwoman ended in July but was extended to January, in order to pave way for her successor, who will be voted in next month.

Ramaphosa is well-known for the role he played during the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) negotiations to bring about a peaceful end to apartheid rule and constitutional democracy to the country. He also has a strong background in the trade movement, being one of the founders of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

He is the founder of Shanduka Group and has set on the boards of numerous companies as a nonexecutive member.

In early 2011, he took over the McDonald’s franchise in South Africa. His supporters include the ANC’s tripartite alliance partners the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the trade union federation’s biggest affiliate National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu); the SACP and the Young Communist League of SA (YCLSA).

Nehawu has recently called on Zuma to resign as the country’s president following a raft of controversies, such as the landing of his friend’s airplane, the Guptas, at a national key point – Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria, the Nkandla-gate scandal, the ANC’s dismal performance during the local municipal elections and the State of Capture report.

The public sector union has even gone further to call on Ramaphosa to take over as interim president ahead of the party’s national elective conference in December 2017.

Should he be elected president by ANC branches, the Marikana massacre of August 2012 at Lomnin platinum mine in the North West, many analysts agree that his involvement in the bloodbath that resulted in the deaths of 34 mineworkers at the hands of police, would be a spectre to his presidency.

Ramaphosa was a nonexecutive board member of the company and has been exonerated by a commission that probed the deaths in 2012 headed by retired judge Ian Gordon Farlam.

During the Codesa negotiations Dlamini-Zuma was part of the Gender Advisory Committee. Her struggle credentials include her role as the deputy president of the South African Student Organisation in the 1970s. she was also active in underground ANC activities at the time.

She was appointed by former president Nelson Mandela in 1994 as the minister of health heading the portfolio until 1999, when she was appointed as the minister of foreign affairs. She was minister of home affairs in 2009 until 2012 when she was elected the chairperson of the AU.

She has previously served, among other notable positions she has held, as a board member of the Centre for Social Development Studies in 1992, a research Scientist at the Medical Research Council in Durban from 1991-1994, and she is currently a member of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC).

Dlamini-Zuma’s backer for ANC president include the ANC Youth League, the Umkhonto WeSizwe Military Veterans Association, who are said to be aligned to the premier’s league and president Zuma as well.

The Sunday Times reported earlier this month that Dlamini-Zuma reportedly pulled out of her official duties in Cameroon at the eleventh hour to attend the ANC’s NEC meeting in November to defend Zuma from Cabinet ministers who were calling for his removal from office.

Citing party insiders, the paper reported that she had tendered her apology informing the NEC she wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting held at St. George’s Hotel, in Irene, Gauteng, saying she had an invitation from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to take part in programmes related to the Africa Women Cup of Nations in her capacity as the AU chair.

She apparently left the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé after panicking Zuma loyalists apparently called for her support as he came under fire at the tense NEC meeting.

When she arrived in Irene, she reportedly held a caucus with the ANC Women’s League president, Bathabile Dlamini, and later joined an ANC faction defending Zuma against moves to remove him from power.

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