'We can't lose this one' - Cosatu on backing Ramaphosa for ANC president

2017-08-28 18:47
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa (File, Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa (File, Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

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Johannesburg - Cosatu’s central executive committee is meeting in Johannesburg to strategise on how to ramp up support for its ANC presidential candidate, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

"We can’t lose this one," Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said.

He was speaking ahead of the CEC meeting in Johannesburg.

Ntshalintshali said their endorsement of Ramaphosa was based on the "principle" that the deputy succeeds the president.

He said there was nothing negative about the ANC’s second in command, and that backing the deputy would save the ANC from future leadership battles.  

The CEC is meeting following the ANC policy conference and SACP congress in July. It is also expected to be addressed by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, as the country faces retrenchments and deepening poverty levels.

Ntshalintshali said they would also discuss progress made since endorsing Ramaphosa for the ANC presidency.

"If it goes in the manner we articulated, it will save the ANC in future, in that every time the current president exhausts his mandate, there should be no ducking and diving in terms of what the future must look like."

"If you elect a deputy president, you should be knowing that this is your future president, going forward. So, you have to choose from the time you choose the DP, and be able to give him all time... ten years deputising, to learn and one day become president."

His comments come as the ANC presidential race heats up, with formal nominations by party branches expected to be opened in September. The national executive committee will announce the threshold needed for each candidate to make it onto the ballot at the December elective conference.

Cracks in Women's League

ANC presidential hopefuls have continued to criss-cross the country, speaking to various constituencies.

Ramaphosa is expected to face off against former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, whose campaign trail has been the most exhaustive and active. She has held as many as four events in three provinces in one weekend.

Her supporters are sharing pictures on social media of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela meeting with Dlamini-Zuma at the weekend in Soweto.

ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize’s name has also officially been thrown into the presidential ring, with some branches in Phongola in northern KwaZulu-Natal endorsing him to succeed Zuma.

Mkhize addressed the Mzala Nxumalo Memorial Lecture in Uphongola, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, on Sunday.

Mkhize, who has been addressing various ANC structures, has been reluctant to publicly accept the nomination. However, his name has been mentioned as a "third way" in the presidential race.  

Close associates of Mpumalanga ANC chairperson and premier, David Mabuza, have said he could back Mkhize, instead of frontrunners Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma.

Ramaphosa addressed hundreds of people in Seshego in Limpopo on Sunday. Twitter has been abuzz with a banner held up by party supporters, which said: "ANC Women's League Vhembe supports Cyril Ramaphosa". Some have said it highlights cracks in the league's ranks.

'This is a good candidate'

The ANCWL was also in a recent war of words with its former president Angie Motshekga, accusing her of organising events around the country under the league's banner. Motshekga dismissed the criticism.

The other presidential hopefuls are NEC members Lindiwe Sisulu, Jeff Radebe and former treasurer General Mathews Phosa.

Political analyst Dumisane Hlophe says the official nomination process by branches will give a clear indication of who is in the race.

"I think some of these people claim to be contending for leadership are building a profile or base to negotiate position in top echelons of ANC," Hlophe told News 24.  

Ntshalintshali would not be drawn on the possibility of Ramaphosa losing at the December elective conference, amidst speculation that there could be a split within the ANC, or that Ramaphosa’s supporters would back the SACP, who have said they could contest the elections for the first time in 2019.

"He (Ramaphosa) will win. We are not looking for the negative. Our efforts are gaining momentum, even from people in the ANC, that this is a good candidate," he said.

He said the decision to possibly back the SACP in the general election would be taken at a congress, with the next one scheduled for 2018.

Read more on:    cosatu  |  anc  |  cyril ­ramaphosa  |  bheki ntshalintshali

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