ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has sought to dispel rumours that he could be the face of the party’s electoral campaign next year.
Speaking at the Free State ANC conference in Welkom yesterday, Ramaphosa reiterated that President Jacob Zuma will lead the party’s electoral campaign.
He told the conference delegates, where Free State Premier Ace Magashule was re-elected as provincial ANC chairperson last night, that the ANC was still the only party capable of taking South Africa forward “despite all the challenges that it has”.
“There is no party that can look itself in the mirror and say it can do what the ANC has done,” he said to cheers in the conference marquee.
“As an organisation, you will have many involved in the election effort. We must have one message, and one leader – Jacob Zuma.”
Ramaphosa said every ANC leader should contribute towards ensuring an “overwhelming victory” for the party for it to continue implementing its policies in government.
Some commentators have suggested that Ramaphosa might replace Zuma as the face of the ANC’s election campaign in light of scandals like Nkandlagate and the fallout around the Gupta family’s wedding.
But yesterday’s speech made it clear Ramaphosa expected Zuma to lead.
He said Zuma’s government and the ANC were hard at work, and “not sleeping on the job”.
Ramaphosa took a veiled swipe at the DA, without naming the party, saying the ANC needed to be defended from those who are “rewriting history with the sole intention of downplaying (the ANC’s role) in the liberation struggle”.
“All of us have a responsibility to rise and defend the ANC from the well-orchestrated liberal manoeuvres aimed at undermining its legitimate authority, and create a hostile public opinion about it,” he said.
Last year’s Free State conference was declared null and void by the Constitutional Court after a faction in the party challenged the outcome.
Some members have threatened to take this weekend’s conference to court again as they are unhappy with the way the ANC has handled processes leading to conference.
Ramaphosa urged party members to put unity in the ANC and the interest of the province’s residents ahead of their own factional interests.