Cyril rejects Zuma's deal

2017-12-10 05:53
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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ANC presidential candidate Ramaphosa insists that the president’s suggestion that the losing contender deputise has ‘never gained traction’.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has shot down President Jacob Zuma’s proposal that the losing candidate in the ANC presidential race should, by default, become the deputy for the purpose of forging party unity.

The crucial leadership election is scheduled to kick off on Saturday at Nasrec, Johannesburg, and the race to succeed Zuma is too close to call.

Ramaphosa was in pole position after he attained the majority of branch nominations. However, given the varying sizes of ANC branches across the country, this does not necessarily translate into a majority of delegates.

Up until the last minute before the start of the conference, lobbyists have planned a marathon of meetings with delegates across provinces to do headcounts – which those supporting Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Ramaphosa’s chief contender, have described as an “aerial battle”.

But both camps ultimately want a good chunk of the 353 delegates on the so-called Unity vote from Mpumalanga’s 736-strong contingent as it is the biggest bloc from the province.

Zuma told the more than 3 700 ANC delegates attending the party’s national policy conference in Nasrec in July that, in the case where two candidates contested the presidency position, the loser could automatically become a deputy.

A second deputy president post could also be created to accommodate the winner from those contesting that post.

However, in an interview with City Press on Friday, a confident-sounding Ramaphosa said Zuma had “floated the idea at the policy conference, but it never really gained traction because people did not warm to it”.

“There was a sense that all this should be left to branches because they are the repository of democratic practice in the ANC. And if you agree that branches are the real lifeblood of democracy in the ANC, then you should let them decide.

“It is firmly my view,” he said.

- Visit our special report, #ANCVotes, for all the news, analysis and opinions about the ANC’s national elective conference.

A fortnight ago, Zuma met all seven ANC presidential contenders, but “he did not try to broker a deal”, said Ramaphosa.

“He was clear from the beginning that, as candidates, we should get our supporters to behave in a way that will make the conference successful.”

Ramaphosa said all the candidates had committed to engaging in a fair fight and in conduct that would not bring the ANC into disrepute.

Candidates also undertook to desist from attacking each other, saying there would be no divisive songs and factional apparel at the conference, he said.

City Press heard from ANC insiders that Zuma had apparently also given the candidates an ultimatum to go and talk among themselves in a bid to have a unity slate.

“He gave them about two weeks or so. He apparently told the presidential hopefuls: ‘We are going to this conference uncontested’ – and that they had to agree.”

However, with just six days to go, both the Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa camps are holding back, further fuelling a possible stampede at the conference.

Ramaphosa told City Press that he did not believe that “there is anybody who is mad and crazy enough to want to collapse conference”.

“This is one moment in five years when the ANC family gets together, and camaraderie and collegiality come to the fore. We should not allow anyone to rob us of this moment.

“So, I do not believe that anybody in their right mind would want to rob almost 1 million members of the ANC and its 10 million supporters of this great moment as the ANC seeks to reunite, renew and revitalise itself.

“It would be a betrayal of history and what the founders of the ANC would have ever wanted to see.”

Talks failing to make headway

On the sidelines, ANC provincial chairpersons have met at least twice in the past seven days with a view to avoiding contestation. Early indications were that the talks were failing to make headway as some felt it was too late because the branches had already decided.

They agreed that it was best to bring Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa to the table in an effort to agree and make compromises. It was KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala who emphasised the need to be flexible and compromise, but his parting shot was that not everything should be about Ramaphosa.

City Press heard that the argument went along the lines of: “If we were to bring in the issue of seniority, Dlamini-Zuma is more senior than Ramaphosa.”

On the other hand, Ramaphosa’s supporters raised concerns about 2019 and the prospect of losing the general elections.

Northern Cape ANC chairperson Zamani Saul said: “We have always been open-minded when dealing with such issues. Whatever is in the best interest of the movement, we will explore.”

His counterpart in the North West, Supra Mahumapelo, said: “In the ANC we will engage until the last moment – and after the conference – on how we must continue to build unity of purpose.”

Mahumapelo added: “If an uncontested outcome is not achieved, we must agree on how to manage contestation.”

The anticipated meeting between Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma has not happened as neither is willing to stand down nor deputise the other.

A "new deal"

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa warned that the democratic right of branches to elect their preferred candidates was under threat, and that his campaign team was keeping a close watch on attempts to bribe delegates supporting him in order to sway their views.

He said he had been alerted to “a lot of funny things ... happening at ANC branch level”, adding that he was worried.

“We keep getting messages about people being offered money and shenanigans that are going on. Vote buying and patronage offering is just meant to frustrate the will of the membership and delegates. It is aimed at frustrating that democratic process that has been central in all this.

“An assessment is being done to find out how rife all this is. It is very disturbing because we are getting all these reports on a daily basis.”

Ramaphosa said this behaviour “should be condemned and should be stopped”.

While the Dlamini-Zuma camp claims to be broke, some insiders have said that “certain discussions were happening about individuals diverting money from their departments”.

However, an insider said: “There is nothing like being broke. The money – millions of rands – was given to the [ANC youth, women’s and veterans’] leagues. The money was given to those three strategic arms. There is money.

“For example, you get told that going to Nasrec, there is this million that you must distribute to delegates. It is mainly for people who are commanding delegates. It can be R100 000 and then R10 000 upwards for each delegate. It depends.”

While Ramaphosa took the moral high ground, his own campaign was not immune to allegations of the use of money to solicit votes.

“There are no holy cows. Ramaphosa was wise. They didn’t really buy people; they assisted structures,” said ANC insiders, who went on to explain that millions of rands from funders was channelled to provincial treasurers, who gave funds to their regions for transport, airtime, food for the foot soldiers or any other necessities in the structures.

The amount varies in terms of area and the number of branches or delegates. “Ask yourself why some branches who met were full to capacity, and why they were so patient. You take money and plead loyalty. All this is a psychological thing.”

Ramaphosa had come under attack for his “new deal” on the economy, which critics had described as foreign to the ANC. He said the “new deal” was not a policy, but rather, “a mechanism of implementing the policy that we’ve got”.

“What I have articulated is a mechanism that sets out priorities. It is not against what is set out in the Freedom Charter and the National Development Plan,” said Ramaphosa, adding that it was a “reviewed direction to implement policy”.

“All we want to establish is a compact,” he said. “What I am really calling for is that we need to have a recovery plan for our economy, underpinned by all role players coming together to achieve the goals that we want.”

He said he wanted agreements and deals on jobs. “I want a deal on a million jobs, and for role players to sit around the table and do that. For me, this is not a new policy but a mechanism.”

Ramaphosa said he wanted a social compact on investment, in terms of how the country generated growth and investment.

“We need to be able to sit down with people who invest in our economy. We cannot just talk to them from rooftops or public platforms. We cannot insult them or call them all sorts of names and hope that they will invest. You need to lock them up in a room and reach a deal.”

He said deals needed to be concluded across society to turn South Africa into a “massive, massive economic activity space”.

Ramaphosa said that, in the event that he won at Nasrec, one of his key tasks would be to bring back competent people who had left national government. To illustrate his point, he mentioned Michael Sachs, who left Treasury because he was unhappy with the direction in which it was headed.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  cyril rama­phosa  |  anc leadership race  |  anc votes  |  politics

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