While ANC instructed all members and alliances not to publicly discuss the race to succeed President Jacob Zuma, its chief whip, Jackson Mthembu publicly endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to be ANC’s next president.
The chief whip leading ANC’s 249 member caucus in parliament expressed that Mr Ramaphosa’s current position as deputy president has positioned him well to become ANC’s next President.
During an interview at his parliamentary office in Cape Town, Mthembu argued that:
“The ANC created the position of Deputy President precisely so that you have a person who is ready to take over should anything happen to the President.
…As an ANC member, I put such a person to be deputy because I was preparing that person to be President; case closed.”
Meanwhile, President Zuma at an interview with SABC radio stations in January, asserted that it’s not his party’s policy for a deputy president to succeed the president.
Acknowledging that former presidents – Oliver Tambo‚ Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki – were succeeded by their deputies, Zuma argued that “it was an accident of history.” and not a tradition.
He stressed that it isn’t ANC tradition for deputies to become presidents saying: “there is no policy (as such). It’s not true that it’s a tradition…It is not a policy and not an accepted tradition… Anyone who is nominated can contest…”
Many embraced Zuma’s statement as a hint that he wouldn’t be supporting his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa’s ambition to become President.
Then, it was also insinuated that the President has endorsed his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as ANC’s next president because he remarked that the ANC is ready for a woman President.
He was quoted to have said:
“It is no longer a discussion in the ANC whether a woman can take a high leadership position or not.
This discussion has been had before and the party agreed that anyone who is seen to have the qualities to lead the movement‚ there won’t be any problem for that person to do so.
The ANC is ready for that‚ in fact the party has been ready for some time.”
However, there’s a sentiment that the campaign for Dlamini-Zuma to take over leadership from Jacob Zuma, is a move by the Zumas and their cohorts to retain power.
The ANC chief whip expressed similar sentiment during his interview. He identified that the ANC problem is rooted at certain members’ strive to retain power.
According to him, there are fiefdoms in various parts of the country and, they have nothing to do with how the ANC can serve South African better.
The fiefdoms, he said, have nothing to do with what the ANC wants to achieve. But, “have everything to do with who must ascend to what positions.”
Based on that, he warned that the ANC has reached its tipping point and now in danger of losing national power in 2019.
“It is only a fool who will not see that reality. Never in my wildest dreams, or never in any of my nightmares, did I dream that we can lose Tshwane, (or) lose Johannesburg.
“The ANC must approach this election as a step for self correction…we must come out ready to confront in a meaningful way the malaise that is facing our organization,” added the chief whip.