ANC secretary tells Zuma to back Ramaphosa

The Secretary-General of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), Mr Gwede Mantashe, has challenged President Jacob Zuma to endorse his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa as he successor.

Mr Mantashe said on Tuesday night that it was not advisable for the president to back his former wife, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for the party’s leadership.

Over the years, tradition in the ANC has been such that the deputy ascends to the presidency, but President Zuma has made it clear his preferred candidate is Dr Dlamini-Zuma.

Mr Mantashe said ANC would be owed an explanation if the sitting deputy president was overlooked for the top job.

The secretary-general fears that if Mr Ramaphosa does not take over, ANC would descend into chaos after the December elective conference.

“If a sitting deputy president, cannot take over from the incumbent, the ANC is owed an explanation so that the organisation can be at peace with itself. There’s a theory of a woman president. That’s strange. We want a president of the ANC, male or female,” Mr Mantashe said during a memorial lecture for former party leader Oliver Tambo.

He called on those who choose to elect anyone else other than the deputy president to provide details of what wrong Mr Ramaphosa had done.

He believes the current leadership has a responsibility to manage succession.

“We can’t have accidental leadership succession as a 105-year-old organisation. When succession is not managed properly, results become disastrous. If President Zuma, for example, refuses to handover to DP (Ramaphosa), we will have a crisis. Let us find a woman to be DP, for succession to be managed. I put this as an idea, branches must debate this idea,” he said.

The ANC is expected to elect its new leadership in December, but build-up provincial conferences have been marred with violence and disputes over results.

Mr Mantashe dismissed support for the former African Union Commission chairperson, Dr Dlamini-Zuma, on the basis that the ANC should have a woman president.

On Monday, Dr Dlamini-Zuma got a fresh boost when she was deployed to the small business committee in Parliament after being sworn in as an MP last month.

She will fight it out with Mr Ramaphosa, treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, national executive committee member Lindiwe Sisulu and party chairperson Baleka Mbete for the top job.

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