Cyril Ramaphosa Defeats Nkosazana Dlamino-Zuma as Leader of African National Congress

Published on 19th December 2017

On Monday, December 18, 2017, more than 5,000 delegates voted to elect the new African National Congress (ANC) leadership at the party's ongoing 54th National Conference taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Deputy President of South Africa since 2014 became the 13th Leader of the 105 year old ANC by a whisker of a margin after he received 2,440 votes to 2,261 for his rival, Comrade Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 68, who did not go down inconsequentially.

Her loyalists won significant posts in the party leadership,  including her running mate, Comrade David Mabuza, the Premier of Mpumalanga Provincial Government who clinched the second spot as Deputy Chief.  He  defeated Mr.  Ramaphosa's running mate, Comrade Lindiwe Sisulu, the daughter of  anti - Apartheid heroes  Walter Sisulu and  Albertina Sisulu.

Below are the five other positions. 

NDZ is for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ticket and CR is for Cyril Ramaphosa ticket or those the candidates indicated will fill the five top slots.

David Mabuza  (NDZ) won the Deputy President position, beating Lindiwe Sisulu (CR).

Former General-Secretary Gwede Mantashe ( CR) beat Nathi Mthethwa (NDZ) for the position of National Chairperson.

The Secretary-General is Ace Magashule (NDZ) who defeated Senzo Mchunu (CR).

Jessie Duarte retained her position of Deputy Secretary-General (NDZ) defeating Zingiswa Losi.

Treasurer-General is Paul Mashatile (CR). He defeated Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (NDZ).

Dr. Dlamini-Zuma's firm and vocal support came from the ANC Women's League, the ANC Youth League, and the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, North West, and Mpumalanga. She  promised " radical economic transformation."

One of the wealthiest South Africans, Mr. Ramaphosa co-founded the biggest mining workers union. In 2016, he won the backing of the 1.9 million-member Congress of South African Trade Unions, a key ally of the ANC. He is favored by the business community and mainstream Western media that played up anxieties and needs to reassure investors.  

Nothing Small was Left to Chance

On Sunday, after delays and just before the nomination, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma's camp erupted with   "Rise, Nkosazana! The time is now!" as it commandeered the atmosphere. There were also Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for Party President T-shirts and other paraphernalia.

Precarious  moments were experienced and patience was stretched. An example came over arguments about taking the list of the 80 Members of the National Executive Committee into the ballot booth. Based on ANC Election Commission rule in party's constitution and led by veterans, including Comrade Sindiso Mfenyana,  post-Apartheid first Secretary to Parliament, the answer was no. Comrade Mfenyana was described by two of pro-Dlamini Zuma delegates as an "old man" who should not be listened to.

In  song and style, Mr. Ramaphosa's camp was a distant second or no match. As the political duel raged, Mr. Ramaphosa received a significant boost late Saturday after he was publicly endorsed by the outgoing ANC Chairwoman  and former Speaker of the South African Parliament  Comrade Baleka Mbete.

Comrade Mbete  thought (or was led to believe) that the progressive vibes about a  "woman president" was hers for the asking. She was the Deputy President under former President Kgalema Motlanthe  "placeholder presidency" from 2008 to 2009 after the party revolt against former President Thabo Mbeki, which ushered in private citizen Mr. Jacob Zuma, who had been ousted from the Mbeki government, as party leader.

Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana of University of Johannesburg opined on the Mbete act: "Part of the reason perhaps why Mbete wouldn't have endorsed Dlamini Zuma is that she had been Zuma's preferred candidate for the presidency a lot earlier."

"And most people believe that president Zuma had even promised her that he will support her. So there was a point of grievance on her part."

In fact, she has been mocked as used, duped and dumped by the more unrestrained members of the Economic Freedom Fighters party.

The 179 vote difference effectively dashed the hopes of  Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, President Jacob Zuma's ex-wife, who remain close, to become South Africa's first female president.   Well, she does not like to be addressed as such: ex-wife or anything wifey and sometimes snaps at the reference. That is agreed; she is a stellar quality of her own. But the association is for good measure to calculate the stakes.

Dr. Dlamini-Zuma went home after serving a single term as Chairperson of the African Union Commission for this moment and eventual contest for the presidency. The head of the ANC traditionally becomes the party's presidential candidate. The general election is due in 2019. Mr. Ramaphosa is widely expected to win as the next President of South Africa. 

The outcome of the spirited and close contest may not be the post - presidency life that President Jacob Zuma would like.  The whys can only be explained in stark terms of personal loyalty because, everything being equal, a President will not be seen trying the squash the ambition of his or her deputy.

Haywire Acts

Well, things are known to happen between the head and the deputy - such as Olusegun Obasanjo and Abubakar Atiku in Nigeria and theater witnessed in Zimbabwe. One of the vanquished members of G40, former Higher Education Minister Dr. Jonathan Moyo, has been warned recently by National Army Commander Lieutenant General Philip Valerio Sibanda to stop "badmouthing" the new government from where he escaped to. 

Rewind a bit. President Zuma came to office through the route mastered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe but without the military option. Former President Thabo Mbeki was dethrown with threat of impeachment in 2008 with a year left to his term.  He resigned.

President Zuma's term of office does not come to a close until 2019. Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, he has survived multiple votes of no confidence led by a strange bedfellow opposition only united by visceral disdain for the President. 

The sideshows of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and mental gymnastics of the predominantly White-backed Democratic Alliance (DA) in the South African Parliament were watched for their entertainment value because the outcomes were foreseen.

Will Ramaphosa ask Zuma  to resign, which he can legally do as the party leader? It is unlikely and even ill advised against the taunting and temptation.

The party has been sliding in the polls. This is mostly due to economically disadvantaged blacks, the bulwark of the ANC constituency, loosing confidence in party's ability to close the economic disparities gap, a promise that catapulted the party to power.

Even though ANC won more than 50 percent of the vote in the last municipal elections in 2016, it lost the legislative majority in key urban areas that include South Africa's financial hub Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria as voters warmed to DA and EFF or stayed away from the polls.

The bruising leadership contest was no cruise to victory with the liberty of a broad mandate. The vote against Dr. Dlamini-Zuma was not necessarily against her ideas but the personality politics and intra party alliances of the day. 

The ANC will have to bridge the division that party officials indicate is wider than at any point since the end of white-minority rule and deliver results felt by the poor in order to regain its once formidable footing.

Asking President Zuma to resign is a crack that the opposition will exploit. It is hard to figure out how this will be a net gain for ANC in 2019.

By Evelyn Joe on the view

Courtesy: African Union Citizen 

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