Johannesburg - One of two leading candidates contesting for the presidency of the African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa said leaders must unite the party after the ANC elective conference.
"Our movement is divided and there are factions," Deputy President Ramaphosa said in a Thursday late-night programme on Johannesburg-based 702 Talk Radio. "The challenge that we face, particularly going into this conference, is how we are going to unite the ANC and how we will emerge out of this conference united."
The winner from the December 16 to December 20 conference to pick a successor to President Jacob Zuma as the party’s head will be its presidential candidate in the 2019 elections that are set to be the toughest since Nelson Mandela led the party to power at the end of apartheid in 1994.
The election has caused deep rifts within the 105-year-old ANC, weighed on the rand and bonds and unnerved investors seeking political and policy clarity.
Ramaphosa’s strongest rival for the position is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former chairperson of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife. Ramaphosa didn’t give an explicit answer during Thursday’s broadcast when asked whether he would, if defeated in the leadership contest, accept the position of Dlamini-Zuma’s deputy.
"If, for instance I am not successful to become president, I will have to reflect on whether I should be deployed elsewhere or deployed in the same position," he said. "So, it is going to be a matter in which I am going to want to reflect."
Ramaphosa said the economy could grow at a faster pace and that the government had been diverted by self-interest and state capture. The ANC should never allow its policy to be up for sale and he wouldn’t "sell his soul for any interest", Ramaphosa said.
"I believe that our economy is not a one-or two-percent growth economy; I believe it can grow at 4% and we can revitalise our economy if we do the right things," he said. "We have realised that corruption is rife and we are going to address it. We are going to root out corruption and that is a promise I can make."
Former finance ministers Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan should return to the government, Ramaphosa said. Zuma’s dismissal of Gordhan in March caused South Africa to lose its investment-grade status with two ratings companies for the first time in 17 years.
"I would want all those people back in government service, because they have an unbelievable role to play in helping us develop. Many of those who were just tossed out, were tossed out for reasons other than their lack of competence," Ramaphosa said.
He has won endorsement from more ANC branches than Dlamini-Zuma, giving him an edge in this month’s election.
Ramaphosa was nominated for the presidency of the ANC by 1 860 branches, while 1 330 backed his main rival. The branches will nominate delegates who will account for 90% of the 5 240 votes at the conference.
Dlamini-Zuma’s support in regions that will send relatively more delegates to the meeting will boost her chances, Collen Maine, the leader of the ANC’s youth wing that’s backing her for the top position, said in an interview.
Another 223 branches in Mpumalanga province that haven’t given a preference yet have been instructed to back Dlamini-Zuma, Business Day reported.
* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER