Cyril Ramaphosa has urged an “ANC divided by money” to choose its next leaders wisely in order to deny opposition parties the national coalition that they are already planning for come 2019.
Addressing a cadres’ forum in the Sara Baartman region in Grahamstown on Sunday, the presidential hopeful did not mince his words on the sorry state of the party.
“Opposition parties are smelling blood. The say the ANC is divided. When divided it is weakened. They say that in 2019 the ANC will be so divided it will not win the elections and that there will be a national coalition,” he told hundreds of ANC supporters.
“The ANC must deny opposition parties this national coalition. They are working day and night to make it happen. They want a formidable coalition.”
The supporters who packed the hall were clear in their indications that Ramaphosa should succeed President Jacob Zuma when the ANC went to its elective conference in December.
“What is dividing the ANC? Money is dividing us,” Ramaphosa said.
He agreed with the chair of the region that “the atmosphere [in the ANC] was contaminated”.
“There are problems of corruption within our ranks. Problems of the government being captured by certain people and certain families. There are those who say we must not speak out about the problems. The atmosphere is contaminated. How can we fix these things if we don’t talk about them?
“We must refuse to be silent,” he said to deafening applause.
The event was Ramaphosa’s second appearance in the Eastern Cape, where he was believed to be consolidating support ahead of the elective conference where he would face off against Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who had already officially been endorsed by a structure of the ANC, the women’s league.
It’s understood that Ramaphosa’s support in the Eastern Cape was linked to the inclusion of secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on his slate of top six officials.
City Press reported on Sunday that Mantashe had been approached by the Dlamini-Zuma camp to be included on their slate but he is alleged to have rejected the offer on the basis that Zuma ally and Free State chairperson Ace Magashule was on that slate as secretary-general.
“We are going to conference divided. We must unite the ANC around leaders we are going to elect,” Ramaphosa said.
He called for ANC members to “choose wisely” when they headed to the conference, calling for members to choose leaders who would restore the organisation to “the ANC of Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela”.
While the ANC has tried to quell talk of succession ahead of the conference, hopefuls have hit the ground running. Among those believed to be vying for a position on the top six were Lindiwe Sisulu, Zweli Mkhize and Jeff Radebe.
Ramaphosa also slammed the practice of “buying branches”, which he said had been a big problem at the elective conference held in Mangaung in 2012. He said there were branches that existed only for conferences.
Ramaphosa was flanked by national executive committee members Gugile Nkwinti and Enoch Godongwana at the event.