Ramaphosa named new ANC president

2017-12-19 11:28

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A “Siyavuma tsunami” on Monday propelled Cyril Ramaphosa to victory following a hotly contested ANC presidential election which has been seen as make or break for South Africa’s fledgling democracy.

Ramaphosa, who has been presented as the right person to steer the country out of its economic and political woes, defeated his rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma by 179 votes after securing 2 440 votes to the former AU chairperson’s 2 261.

The announcement of Ramaphosa as winner gave rise to wild celebrations in the Nasrec exhibition centre’s main hall, where close to 5 000 ANC delegates had congregated to hear the outcome.

The crowd screamed “CR17 Siyavuma! Siyavuma!” (an isiZulu word loosely meaning we accept your leadership).

Ramaphosa’s win will be seen as a distinct break from President Jacob Zuma presidency, which has been dogged by allegations of corruption and maladministration.

Apart from being seen favourably by business and the international community, Ramaphosa’s campaign had been endorsed by the SA Communist Party (SACP) labour federation Cosatu, and many civil society organisations.

On the other hand, Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign was mainly backed by the ANC’s so called Premier league, a powerful bloc comprising of Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, Free State Premier Ace Magashule and North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

Despite being backed by the ANC’s biggest and most influential provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign failed to dispel perceptions that her election would represent a continuation of the presidency of Jacob Zuma, her former husband.

In contrast, Ramaphosa’s campaigners had been able to present him as an independent thinker who would act in the interests of the country.

The founder of one of South Africa’s biggest trade unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Ramaphosa (65) also spent several years in the private sector before returning to full- time politics in 2014 when he was elected ANC deputy president.

Ramaphosa’s victory yesterday sees President Jacob Zuma step down as ANC leader, but he is scheduled to remain the country’s president until the 2019 national elections.

The election of Zuma’s allies David Mabuza, Ace Magashule and Jessie Duarte to the positions of deputy president, secretary-general and deputy secretary-general respectively means that Ramaphosa could face opposition in the ANC’s top leadership structure.

The conference saw ANC delegates for the first time rejecting the practice of electing leaders on a slate.

Ramaphosa, former ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe (who was elected national chairperson) and ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile (elected treasurer-general), came into the conference on the same slate.

On the other hand, Mabuza, Duarte and Magashule were in the Dlamini-Zuma camp.

“What this means is that Cyril might have to spend more time managing his relationship with the three leaders who were on the opposite slate.

“While the position of ANC president is an influential one, Cyril might find himself having to spend more time consulting as opposed to implementing his progressive policies,” said political analyst Richard Calland.

With the conference now having elected the top six leaders, delegates had by Monday night started nominating National Executive Committee (NEC) members.

“It would be extremely critical for the Ramaphosa people to ensure that those elected in the NEC shared his vision. If the trend we saw in the election of the top six continues in the nomination of NEC members, it would become extremely difficult for Cyril to implement his programmes due to opposition within the NEC,” added Calland.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  anc conference

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