'I'm not interested'

2006-07-26 07:26

Cape Town - Businessman Cyril Ramaphosa has denied having any interest in becoming president of the ANC.

"I have not engaged, nor sought to engage others on my behalf, in any campaign with respect to the presidency of the ANC, and have no interest in being a candidate," he said on Tuesday.

Reports to this effect "are pure speculation with no factual basis", Ramaphosa said in a statement on the letterhead of his Shanduka investment company.

"Like all ANC members, I am bound by the discipline, traditions, organisational culture and processes of the organisation. I have not, and will not, act in a manner contrary to these practices."

City Press newspaper reported on Sunday that Ramaphosa, a senior ANC member, had entered the race for the party presidency.

It said he apparently had the backing of former president Nelson Mandela and key businesspeople in his "spirited campaign" for the presidential campaign.

Incumbent Thabo Mbeki's second spell comes to an end with the party's 2007 national congress - where new leaders are to be elected.

'Madiba will remain entirely impartial'

Mbeki, whose second term as president of the country ends in 2009, has reportedly said he would consider staying on as ANC leader beyond 2007. There is no constitutional limit to the number of successive party presidencies that can be served.

Another contender was Jacob Zuma, axed by Mbeki from the deputy presidency of the country pending Zuma's upcoming corruption trial. Zuma remains deputy president of the party.

Mandela on Monday opted for a neutral public stance on the Ramaphosa reports.

"Madiba will remain entirely impartial in this matter," his spokesperson Zelda la Grange said.

"He will let himself be led by the structures of the ANC when it comes to the election of the new president. It will depend on what is decided by the provinces and the national executive committee."

With roots in trade unionism, Ramaphosa, 53, is a former secretary-general of the ANC. He was considered a candidate to replace Mandela at the end of his presidency in 1999.

He now sits on the boards of several companies.

Ramaphosa and two other senior ANC members and businessmen, Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa, were investigated in 2001 in connection with an alleged plot to oust Mbeki. They were cleared.