As of today, South Africa is a step closer to seeing the back of President Jacob Zuma as he is scheduled to deliver his last political report to more than 4000 voting ANC delegates as the ruling party’s head.
His term of office as the State President is also on shaky ground, depending who wins what is shaping up to be a watershed five-day conference being held in Nasrec. The conference got under way yesterday.
Zuma is expected to deliver his political report at 9am today. There are two key presidential candidates: national executive committee member Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
To mark his departure at Luthuli House, the party’s headquarters, Zuma hosted a farewell function for his staff last week, showering them with gifts.
From today on the focus will be on Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma.
Intense behind-the-scenes lobbying, late-night wheeling and dealing in hotel rooms and secret venues around Johannesburg continued last night.
Lobbyists for the different groupings have been pushing hard trying to ensure they secure the numbers needed for their preferred candidates to be elected this weekend.
While the ANC presidential race has been a two-horse race between Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma, supporters of the other presidential candidates had not thrown in the towel by last night as they continued trying to convince delegates to switch their allegiance.
Lobbyists for outgoing treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize and former treasurer-general Mathews Phosa were still hard at work last night, giving the two leaders’ somewhat low-key campaign for the top office at Luthuli House, a last-minute push.
But the Saturday Dispatch can reveal today that among the deals brokered towards this weekend’s conference is the one signed and sealed on Wednesday between Ramaphosa and presidential candidate Lindiwe Sisulu, who, if Ramaphosa is elected, will likely also get the nod as his deputy.
This means Ramaphosa’s supporters will dump Naledi Pandor, Ramaphosa’s preferred deputy presidential candidate, for the former Umkhonto weSizwe operative, Sisulu.
The Dispatch can also reveal today that this was after Sisulu realised that she was on the backfoot following her public statements questioning outgoing secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s struggle credentials.
Sisulu lashed out at Mantashe while addressing Cofimvaba residents in October and blamed him for weakening the ANC-led tripartite alliance.
She also criticised the ANC secretary-general, who now appears as national chairman position in the newly reconciled lineup, for declaring his support for Ramaphosa.
A Sisulu aide said the Human Settlements Minister almost committed political suicide with her statement.
“All I can say is that that statement nearly cost her her career as a politician so we had to come up with a plan and work the ground,” a Sisulu ally said.
Five a side teams have been having meetings since last week, which resulted in Sisulu and Ramaphosa meeting for the first time to discuss the details of the deal on Wednesday.
Sisulu’s core is led by a Bob Mhlanga, while Bheki Cele is leading the Ramaphosa team of negotiators.
“The five a side group initiated the discussion. A breakthrough was realised on Wednesday here in Johannesburg when CR and Lindi met and the deal was signed and sealed,” said another source.
Sisulu was nominated by the Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and Western Cape to be a deputy president.
The newly reconciled proposed national executive committee additional list reveals that should Ramaphosa win, Cele will top the list, followed by Kgalema Motlanthe, Blade Nzimande, Joel Netshitenzhe and Jackson Mthembu in the top five of the additional members. The only Eastern Cape politicians in the top 80 are Mcebisi Jonas, Enoch Godongwana, Pam Tshwete and Thulas Nxesi.
Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign was also dealt a heavy blow yesterday when the Mafikeng High Court declared the Bojanala regional conference held in September null and void, meaning 50 branches would be unable to take part in the conference.
North West province was the backbone of the Dlamini-Zuma campaign with the majority of branches in the province having nominated NDZ during the provincial general meetings held results.
But Dlamini-Zuma supporters were also upbeat last night, saying whether groupings merge or not, the former African Union leader will be announced as the new ANC president tomorrow.
#NDZ key lobbyist Teris Ntutu said: “You can see that supporters of the CR17 are panicking because numbers are in our favour. They are busy taking chances, applying for court interdicts to collapse this conference. That is not going to happen. We will leave here having Nkosazana (Dlamini-Zuma) as the new ANC president,” said the Amathole regional secretary.
The conference got off to a shaky start yesterday as registration moved at a snail’s pace. But ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said by midday the more than 600 Eastern Cape delegation had arrived, as well as the North West and some KwaZululu-Natal regions.
Nomination of the top six is scheduled to start between 3pm and 5pm. Kodwa said the counting of votes would continue overnight and the results would be announced tomnorrow morning.
Dlamini-Zuma’s lineup has David Mabuza as deputy president, Ace Magashule secretary general, Jessie Duarte deputy secretary, treasurer Nkoane Mashwabane-Maite, and Nathi Mthethwa national chairman.
In Ramaphosa’s slate, Sisulu is contesting the deputy presidential post, Senzo Mchunu secretary-general, Zingiswa Losi deputy secretary-general, Paul Mashatile treasurer-general and Mantashe national chairman. — firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com