It’s Cyril vs Kgalema: Ramaphosa leading the deputy race

2012-12-09 10:00

Businessman Cyril Ramaphosa has emerged as the frontrunner for ANC deputy president, while incumbent Kgalema Motlanthe’s reluctance to commit publicly is increasingly leaving him out of the game.

Ramaphosa got almost 2 000 votes during the provincial nominations process in the past two weeks, mostly from pro-President Jacob Zuma delegates.

With the added votes from the ANC Women’s League and the Veterans’ League, which both nominated him, Ramaphosa should get most of the votes at the ANC’s elective congress, which starts in Mangaung on Sunday.

City Press spoke to 25 sources, including businessmen close to Ramaphosa, lobbyists who nominated him and ANC leaders.

They confirmed that, although Ramaphosa wasn’t the first choice for deputy president initially, he was now a favourite for the job.

A senior ANC national executive committee member said Ramaphosa, in ANC practice, could not turn his back on so many branches.

“You must show respect to the voice of the people. He will be swung by his loyalties to the movement,” the leader said.

Although there are concerns about his business empire, most sources said he could wrap it up before 2014, when he would need to step up as the country’s deputy president.

According to a senior KwaZulu-Natal lobbyist, Ramaphosa’s name was first raised during a meeting by Mpumalanga lobbyists, who wanted to see Motlanthe go.

Although KwaZulu-Natal was reluctant, Motlanthe’s association with the youth league made the province “uncomfortable”.

“We approached him to see where he stood. He assured us he had no problem with (Zuma). He told us he would distance himself from the league’s utterances and the use of his name. He failed to do this,’’ the lobbyist said. “After this, comrade Cyril was the choice.’’

The senior KZN lobbyist also said Ramaphosa was initially reluctant to accept nomination, but he “has come around” and would accept.

A Zuma lobbyist who is also a Joburg-based businessman said Zuma would still prefer Motlanthe as deputy,

but the overwhelming support for Ramaphosa would force him to change his mind.

“We made an assessment of Kgalema’s time as secretary-general and we decided he was a bad leader. It was under him that all these bad things started with conferences being rigged, and he did nothing.”

Ramaphosa is expected to “manage” Zuma.

“We know all (Zuma’s) faults, so Cyril will be there to be in a prime minister’s role to manage him and make the government look good,” the lobbyist said.

But he admitted the Zuma camp did not expect Ramaphosa to do as well as he has been.

Ramaphosa’s nomination “was just to get Kgalema to step into line, but now it’s a train that can’t be stopped”.

According to a diplomat briefed on the matter, some in Zuma’s lobby are now scrambling to retain Motlanthe as deputy president because of fears Ramaphosa would overshadow Zuma.

- City Press

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