Cosatu backing Ramaphosa; battle for presidential succession warms up

ANC_LogoThe battle for the succession of President Zuma is warming up, with Cosatu backing a government-critical Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC Women’s League backing the top female candidates. By saying the country was ready for a women president, the ANC Women’s League automatically throws it weight behind a former wife of the current incumbent, AU Chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete. They’re the two front female runners. Let’s not forget that all candidates are acutely aware that a day is a long time in politics, especially given the unprecedented pressure from all sides on the charismatic and wily Msholozi. While the sun is not about to go down on him just yet, the storm clouds are gathering and may prematurely wash him out of his increasingly hot seat [meaning before the ANC’s elective conference due in December next year]. Ramaphosa was arguably electioneering as early as September this year when he told a Nedlac gathering that ‘no one should be seen to be above the law,’’ and that, “a well-functioning government is not at war with itself.’ Nehawu and Cosatu have both called for Zuma to step down, a move which further illustrates the growing divide between the ANC and its traditional allies, as the ruling party’s angry response showed; i.e. “Don’t meddle in our affairs ‘coz we don’t meddle in yours”. – Chris Bateman

by Sam Mkokeli

(Bloomberg) — South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa won the backing of the nation’s biggest labor federation to succeed President Jacob Zuma as leader of the governing African National Congress. The rand strengthened.

The decision by the 1.9 million-member Congress of South African Trade Unions, a key ally of the ANC, came after an “intense and robust debate,” Cosatu Secretary-General Bheki Ntshalintshali told reporters Thursday in Johannesburg. “We shall work to lobby and influence the ANC structures to support comrade Cyril Ramaphosa as the next leader of the movement.”

How SA's leading cartoonist  Zapiro views Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's current role. For more Zapiro magic, click here.
How SA’s leading cartoonist Zapiro views Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s current role. For more Zapiro magic, click here.

Ramaphosa, 64, and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s 67-year-old ex-wife whose time as chairwoman of the African Union Commission ends in January, are seen as the front-runners to succeed Zuma at the ANC’s elective conference due in December next year. The leader of the party, which has a majority in parliament, will probably become president in a national vote in 2019.

Ramaphosa, a lawyer who co-founded the National Union of Mineworkers, helped negotiate a peaceful end to apartheid and draft South Africa’s first democratic constitution. He lost out to Thabo Mbeki in the contest to succeed Nelson Mandela as president in 1999 and went into business, securing control of the McDonald’s franchise in South Africa and amassing a fortune before returning to full-time politics in 2012 as ANC deputy president.

Rand Gains

The rand reversed losses, gaining as much as 0.9 percent against the dollar after the announcement, and was 0.2 percent stronger at 14.1265 per dollar at 12:46 p.m. in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Other potential contenders for ANC leader could be Zweli Mkhize, 60, the party’s treasurer-general and former premier of KwaZulu-Natal province, and Baleka Mbete, 67, the speaker of parliament and ANC chairwoman.

While Cosatu’s endorsement will boost Ramaphosa’s chances of becoming president, the succession race remains wide open, said Roger Southall, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

“Cosatu has much less influence over the ANC than it used to have,” he said by phone. “Dlamini-Zuma is still around in the picture.”

Zuma Quit

Two of Cosatu’s affiliates, the National Health and Allied Workers Union and Communication Workers Union, urged Zuma this month to step down as president before his current term ends in 2019, following his implication in a number of scandals and the ANC’s worst-ever electoral performance in a local government vote in August.

Cosatu will discuss the issue with the ANC and hasn’t taken a position on whether Zuma should remain in office, said Zingiswa Losi, Cosatu’s second deputy president.

This month, the ANC urged Cosatu not to become involved in its succession debate.

“The ANC does not meddle in the election of leadership of Cosatu and its affiliates,” the party said in a Nov. 18 statement. “The succession debate of the ANC will be led by the ANC at a moment organizationally determined by the ANC.”

We’ll make sure a woman becomes next president – ANCWL

By Jeanette Chabalala

Johannesburg – It is very premature for Cosatu to endorse Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over from President Jacob Zuma as the next leader of the ANC, the party’s Women’s League said on Thursday.

“As the women’s league, we still maintain that the country is ready for a female president,” secretary general Meokho Matuba told News24.

Earlier, Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told reporters that, after an “intense and robust debate”, the CEC (central executive committee) had resolved to support and lobby for Ramaphosa.

The trade union federation said it wanted the ANC to avoid a contested elective conference next year.

However, Matuba said they were still waiting for ANC processes where they would be able to lobby on the “proper platforms” of the organisation.

“We will make sure that a woman becomes president in the country,” Matuba said.

She believed that the party had a “pool” of women who were qualified to lead the country.

“Next year we will be launching our programme on the women who will be ready to lead the country… if women lead, the poverty, unemployment, inequality and gender based violence would be reduced,” she said.

Earlier this year, News24 reported that African Union (AU) chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had given the strongest indication yet that she would be in the running for ANC president come 2017.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, attends the Valletta Summit on Migration in Valletta, Malta, November 12, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi   MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi 

News24 asked her after the closing of the AU heads of state summit whether her staying for another nine months at the helm of the continental body would affect her campaign in the ANC.

She indicated that she would be free to take up the position if required.

“The [ANC] conference is December 2017,” she said at the time.

Dlamini-Zuma is the first female AU chairperson, and some in the ANC are campaigning for her to become the party’s and the country’s first female president. – News24


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