KZN ANC wants Ramaphosa to stay on as party deputy after December

01 July 2017 - 21:02 By QAANITAH HUNTER
ANC President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa share a light moment before the start of the ANC Policy conference taking place at Nasrec.
ANC President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa share a light moment before the start of the ANC Policy conference taking place at Nasrec.
Image: Masi Losi/Sunday Times

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal now wants party deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to stay on in the position beyond December even if he loses to their preferred presidential candidate, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the December elective congress.

In a move seen as an attempt to minimise a fallout that may follow a bruising presidential race, hence weakening the party further ahead of the 2019 elections, KwaZulu-Natal ANC leaders this weekend started approaching other provinces with a proposal that Ramaphosa remains deputy president in the event he loses the race to succeed President Jacob Zuma.

They are selling their proposal as a step that would help the party avoid “the winner-takes-all scenario” where supporters of the losing candidate may be too disillusioned to campaign for the party in 2019.

However, the proposal may also indicate disunity within the pro-Dlamini-Zuma faction as some within the group in other provinces are campaigning for Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza to become deputy president.

ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala said if Ramaphosa were not elected as president, his province would want him to remain as deputy to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

“If you are available for the president position and you are not elected and then you get nominated for deputy, you must be available and serve as deputy,” Zikalala said.

He said their call for the losing candidate to become the deputy president was guided by their own experience in KwaZulu-Natal when ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize contested the chairmanship in the province against Sbu Ndebele and lost. Mkhize was made Ndebele’s deputy.

He said Ramaphosa was not too senior to stay on as a deputy president.

“What is too senior? Seniority in the ANC is defined by the track record. And the track record will tell you Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma arrived in the ANC, joined the ANC in the 70s. Cyril was nowhere at that time,” Zikalala said.

He said they measured leaders according to the period they had served the organisation and the contribution they had made, and not the current position they occupied.

Zikalala confirmed they had begun in earnest to engage other structures and provinces of the ANC.

“It is better to introduce it now than when people become hardened when nominations start,” Zikalala said.

He said they hoped that the principle was also adopted by those in favour of Ramaphosa becoming the next president and if he won, Dlamini-Zuma would be his deputy.

“If a comrade is nominated as a president and others believe that he or she must be deputy president, the comrade must accept the responsibility,” Zikalala said.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has rejected calls for the ANC top six leadership structure to be extended to eight or nine as proposed by other provinces.

“We are on seven leaders only. We are not going to allow this thing of two deputy presidents. It does not work. It does not make any sense,” Zikalala said, adding that they only supported a second deputy secretary-general.

The ANC policy conference is due to come up with a resolution on this matter on Sunday. 

hunterq@sundaytimes.co.za