Cyril Ramaphosa, the newly elected leader of the African National Congress, will have a tenuous hold on power in the party after his allies fell short of securing outright control over its top leadership structure.
A lack of support from a clear majority of the ANC’s National Executive Committee’s 86 voting members will limit his scope to drive policy changes and assert his authority over President Jacob Zuma, who’s second term as the nation’s leader ends in 2019. The NEC is the ANC’s highest decision-making structure in between its five-yearly national conferences.
Half of the Ramaphosa’s camp’s 80 preferred candidates who appeared on a list circulated at the ANC’s national conference in Johannesburg won election to the NEC. Forty-seven of those favored by the faction led by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who lost to Ramaphosa in the party presidential race, were chosen. Seven of those picked were on both lists and their allegiances are unclear.
The composition of the executive committee will constrain Ramaphosa’s ability to set the government’s agenda to promote economic growth, create jobs and crack down on corruption. He beat Dlamini-Zuma for the presidency by the smallest margin since the ANC came to power in 1994, and only two of the other top-five party officials elected with him who also sit on the executive committee are considered solid allies.
Ramaphosa’s backers who made the cut included former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete and Senzo Mchunu, the former premier of the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province who failed in his bid to become the party’s secretary-general.
Dlamini-Zuma, the former wife of Zuma, also secured election, alongside Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and former central bank Governor Tito Mboweni, who appeared on her faction’s list.
Former ANC Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize won the most votes of the 80 additional members of the NEC, followed by Lindiwe Zulu, the minister of small business development. Their names appeared on both camp’s lists.