Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has the backing on the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to become the next president of the ANC.
In a media briefing on Monday, following a national executive council conference, the union announced its support for Ramaphosa, who is a founding member of NUM.
NUM is one of the biggest trade unions in the country, though it has suffered a few blows over the past couple of years, with member numbers falling. The union has taken a firm stance on the ANC succession battle, while larger affiliate union, Cosatu, has opted to stay on the fence.
Ramaphosa is one of the names being thrown around by analysts, investors and politicians as a leading candidate to take over from president Jacob Zuma when his term as head of the ANC comes to an end in 2018/19.
However, it is widely understood that the deputy president is not Zuma’s preferred candidate, with many insider reports of behind-the-scenes campaigning by Zuma supporters for AU chair – and Zuma’s ex-wife – Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take the position.
Neither Ramaphosa nor Dlamini-Zuma have officially announced a plan to shoot for the position of president.
According to investor research firm, Nomura, Ramaphosa’s appointment as the next president of the ANC – and ostensibly the country – would be seen as an overall positive move for the country’s economy.
Ramaphosa is a tested businessman that works well with the markets, and has the right credentials to lead a popular vote among the people. He is also relatively unmarred by scandals, with only a few high-profile cross against his name – most notably, the Marikana incident.
With the controversies surrounding president Jacob Zuma, political analysts have said that his supported candidate – Dlamini-Zuma – is likely going to be ‘poisoned’ by his legacy, as the party would want to move away from the Zuma name.
However, Nomura believes that Zuma and his supporters control the majority of the ANC NEC (they approximate it at 60%), and predict that the most likely outcome will be Zuma’s favoured candidate taking the top leadership role in the party.
Other names which have been thrown into the mix of possible candidates include National Speaker, Baleka Mbete; ANC treasurer Zweli Mkhize; and ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe.
The ANC is expected to hold its elective conference in 2017 – though proposals have been put forward to hold an earlier conference, in light of the numerous scandals faced by the party.