Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa is gaining momentum as the front-runner to be the ANC’s next president, according to a report by the Mail & Guardian, who spoke to party leaders in one of the most contested provinces – KwaZulu-Natal.
Despite the ANC shooting down any ‘official’ talk around its succession race – which will only open after the party’s policy conference in the middle of the year – campaigning has been moving forward, regardless.
The two front-runners in the race are seen as Ramaphosa, and former AU chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – with other names, such as Mathews Phosa and even Lindiwe Sisula thrown into the mix.
It is widely understood the president Zuma and his factions are backing Dlamini-Zuma as the next president. This includes the ANC Women’s League, the ANC Youth League and provinces from the ‘premier league’ – Mpumalanga, North-West and the Free State.
Ramaphosa, meanwhile, has received support and backing from Cosatu, the SACP and former party leaders like former president Kgalema Mothlante. Treasurer general Zweli Mkhize and secretary general Gwede Mantashe are also seen as aligned with Ramaphosa.
According to the Mail & Guardian, dozens of branches across South Africa are throwing their support behind Ramaphosa, and a growing number of leaders in KwaZulu-Natal are also on his side.
The paper reports that six of eleven regions of KwaZulu-Natal are in favour of Ramaphosa as the party’s next president, from both rural and urban areas – pointing to a big split in the region which is known to be a Zuma stronghold.
According to party insiders speaking to the M&G, KwaZulu-Natal as a whole is still seen as in favour of Zuma and his preferred candidate – but Ramaphosa’s growing popularity cannot be ignored.
“Dozens” of ANC branches across the country are reportedly putting their lot in with Ramaphosa over concerns that the South African government is becoming unstable and corrupt under Zuma.
There is also reportedly a strong patriarchal attitude that persists, acting against a possible female president in Dlamini-Zuma.
However, any momentum Ramaphosa gains needs to be sustained through to December – and with branches electing new leadership between June and August, things are still very much up in the air, the report said.
You can read the full report in the Mail & Guardian for 5 May 2017