Cyril could bow to pressure to stand

2012-10-31 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Pressure is building from ANC branches for businessman Cyril Ramaphosa to make himself available for election as party deputy president if Kgalema Motlanthe does not.

Inquiries in KZN and Mpumalanga showed that branches nominating Jacob Zuma for president often named Ramaphosa for his deputy.

Ramaphosa is overseas and could not be contacted for comment yesterday, but informed sources said he is prepared to stand if a majority of branches support him and his nomination does not worsen rifts in the party.

According to the sources, Ramaphosa does not want to get involved in a dirty public succession battle, or openly solicit votes, but he is prepared to serve as the party’s deputy president if support from branches is strong enough.

“Yes, he’s hungry for the challenge, but not at all costs,” said one source.

Ramaphosa (59) cut his political teeth in the union movement, helping to build the National Union of Mineworkers into a mass movement, as its secretary-general.

He later served as secretary-general of the ANC and was the party’s chief negotiator during the constitutional transition, chairing the constitutional assembly that created the country’s 1996 Constitution.

The controversial e-mails in which Ramaphosa undertook before the Marikana massacre to seek sterner action against strikers, will apparently have a minimal impact on his popularity as a candidate.

ANC branches countrywide are finalising their preferences for national leadership positions, in order to give their delegates a mandate for the Mangaung congress in December.

The branch process leads to provincial congresses at the end of November, where branch choices will be discussed.

It is understood that several branches have made their support for Ramaphosa contingent on discussion between branches and provinces.

This leaves the door open for Motlanthe, with whose performance Zuma supporters are satisfied, to be re-elected as party deputy president.

It is expected that many branches that support Ramaphosa would be willing to switch to Motlanthe if he agreed not to stand as party president — an inherent threat by Zuma supporters that he would lose his post if he were to challenge Zuma for the leadership. Motlanthe himself has said he would be guided by the branches and would not campaign.

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