'It's not a joke‚ we love Cyril!' say Ramaphosa's KZN supporters
Cyril Ramaphosa's backers in KwaZulu-Natal are confident he will emerge victorious from the ANC's December elective conference and that he and his preferred deputy Naledi Pandor will make a good combination.
This is despite statistics released by the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) late last week‚ indicating that former African Union Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is leading the race in the biggest province.
The PEC has said that Dlamini-Zuma has received the backing of 247 branches as opposed to Ramaphosa's 69 nominations.
But Ramaphosa's campaigners had a different story to tell on Monday‚ saying the deputy president was sitting on 157 nominations as of Sunday.
The convenor of Ramaphosa's campaign in KZN Vukani Mdabe and Sthembiso Mshengu‚ spokesman for the applicants in the ongoing court saga between the so-called rebels and the PEC‚ told the media in Durban on Monday that Ramaphosa and Pandor will close the conference in December.
"We love Cyril Ramaphosa. It's not a joke anymore. We just trust the man. We believe he is a solution to the challenges that the ANC has‚" said Mshengu.
Ramaphosa took the unprecedented move of announcing a team of ANC leaders he wants to work with‚ which incurred the wrath of the ANC.
Ramaphosa said he wanted Science and Technology Minister Pandor as his deputy‚ former KZN premier Senzo Mchunu as secretary-general of the party‚ Gwede Mantashe as the party's national chairperson and Gauteng chairman Paul Mashatile as treasurer-general.
"We're happy with comrade Pandor as the deputy president nominee. We're actually elated by that because‚ if you were to recall‚ there has been a lot of pronouncements by the other comrade whom we had been nominating for quite a while up to the level where she openly declared she is not prepared to serve under comrade Ramaphosa. Now‚ you can't keep on nominating someone who is not prepared to work with someone that we so dearly trust and love‚" said Mshengu.
He was referring to Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu‚ who had been touted as a potential deputy to Ramaphosa.
Sisulu said in a statement on Monday that she would not encourage slate politics.
Mshengu said Pandor has a wealth of experience and her approach to political issues would be a "very good combination at the level of the presidency".
"In fact‚ we are certain that they will make a good combination because they will emerge as leaders of the ANC come the 12th of December. They will close the conference. Trust me on that one‚" said Mshengu.
He said they were happy with the "resounding" support Ramaphosa was receiving in KZN.
"Nobody thought that in KwaZulu-Natal he will get even five nominations. We're quickly approaching 200 and we will surprise them."
He said Ramaphosa would lead the ANC to a corruption-free era‚ while Mchunu would be central to the renewal of the organisation.
Mshengu dismissed allegations that they were planning to disrupt the conference and form a breakaway party‚ should they not win.
The group also revealed that 80 branch general meetings had been disputed in the province‚ while the PEC has said only one branch has lodged a dispute. However‚ it is not clear whether those disputes could be resolved within the next few weeks before the conference.
Mdabe lashed out at the ANC NEC's "political indecisiveness" to deal with the challenges faced by the party in the province.
"The logical step for the national officials to take was to facilitate an enabling environment for the comrades in KwaZulu-Natal to heal and find an amicable solution to the political problem. The national leadership has failed to guide and lead processes and challenges in KwaZulu-Natal."
However‚ Mdabe welcomed the appointment of a dispute resolution committee to deal with the challenges faced by branch general meetings in preparation for the national conference.
The committee‚ chaired by Pandor‚ includes ANC and SA Communist Party leaders like Ngoako Ramatlhodi‚ Sue van der Merwe‚ Senzeni Zokwana‚ Sisi Ntombela‚ Thulas Nxesi‚ Susan Shabangu‚ Tony Yengeni and Nathi Mashabane.