ANC election lists the acid test of the party’s reform capacity

CAPE TOWN — This is where our election build-up gets really interesting; will State-Capture veterans make it onto the soon-to-be-finalised ANC lists, national and provincial, and if so, how high up will they be? The hierarchal lists will tell us how much real party power President Ramaphosa has, and how capable the ruling party currently is of making a clean break with its scary recent past. A past that nearly plunged the country into an economic crisis that would have negatively affected the cradle-to-grave quality of life of today’s new-borns. Credible ANC veterans are making a call, certain to be backed by like-minded reformists, for a thorough fumigation of party lists, one early version of which defiantly names Zuma and several of his top Zuptoids. I say ‘’defiantly’’ because what else does that tell us about the power-mongers? Authorising such a list would surely would make a mockery of every significant reformist, anti-corruption move Ramaphosa has made – and there are many. You could interpret it as the risky equivalent of the ANC thumbing its nose at voters – or conclude that in Realpolitik you don’t get rid of smelly bedfellows by changing the linen. Ultimately, list quality will equal reform speed. – Chris Bateman

By Sam Mkokeli

(Bloomberg) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s push to contest general elections with a unified party is facing a challenge by key allies demanding the exclusion of candidates for parliament who are facing questions of criminal activity and integrity, including his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

While the African National Congress hasn’t released the names of candidates for elections expected in May, politicians are jostling to be at the top of the list from where lawmakers are chosen from. Zuma, who’s facing graft charges, and Bathabile Dlamini, the minister of women who perjured herself in court, and Malusi Gigaba, a ex-finance minister who was pressured to step down from the cabinet last year, were on an early version.

“There are strong, credible veterans who will sit down with the ANC’s list committee and look at each and every individual so see if they fit the party’s criteria, whether or not they have outstanding warrants and fines, and have the right qualifications,” ANC Veterans League President Snuki Zikalala said in an interview.

The ANC split into two loose factions in 2017, with one backing Ramaphosa, 66, to succeed Zuma as its leader and the other supporting Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s ex-wife and preferred candidate.

Ramaphosa, who won the battle by a razor-thin margin, needs the party to maintain a united front and win a solid mandate in the May elections to drive through policies aimed at reviving a struggling economy and attracting $100bn in new investment.

The ANC won power in the nation’s first multiracial elections in 1994 and secured 62% support in the last national vote in 2014, but its share tumbled to 54.5% in a municipal vote in 2016, largely due to discontent over Zuma’s rule.

It now needs to demonstrate a strong commitment to moving away from Zuma’s scandal-marred administration, Zikalala, 67, said, calling the former president’s rule “10 years of madness.” On the early list of candidates, he said, there were people with no high-school degrees. “It cannot happen,” he said.

Zikalala’s comments were echoed by Solly Mapaila, the first deputy general secretary of the South African Communist Party, another strong ANC ally.

“We don’t want criminals in our ranks, a case where, and in the name inclusivity, any Tom, Dick and Harry can be our representative in parliament,” he said.