From running for the top spot in the ANC presidential race to withdrawing and endorsing another candidate, the country is in for surprises by leadership stakeholders.
National Assembly speaker and outgoing chairperson of the ruling party, Baleka Mbete has withdrawn her candidacy in the ANC presidential race.
Mbete announced her decision to back off in the hotly-sought race on Saturday while speaking at the ongoing conference. While her decision to withdraw might be linked to her not being nominated by any province, Mbete asserted that she would be supporting deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential bid.
Endorsing Ramaphosa on the sidelines of the ANC’s 54th National Conference, she said: “We publicly endorse Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa.… We have been talking and we agree on how to approach the issues of maximising unity in the organisation.”
[Watch] Outgoing ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete has confirmed that she has endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for the position of party president. | Watch more: https://t.co/5tZHagavXl #ANC54 #CR17 pic.twitter.com/PlogmhHMY0
— SABC News Online (@SABCNewsOnline) December 17, 2017
Mbete’s withdrawal from the race shrunk the number of people contesting for the top post to six presidential hopefuls – Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Cyril Ramapahosa, Jeff Radebe, Lindiwe Sisulu, Zweli Mkhize, and Mathews Phosa.
And while it’s clear that the National Assembly speaker’s endorsement has boosted support for Ramaphosa, a CR17 lobbyist described her endorsement as an attempt to be considered as Ramaphosa’s deputy in the ANC presidential race, which would be unlikely to happen because she “didn’t bring the numbers”.
“Her team sees our numbers because they have been trying to meet us. Her team met a couple of our guys to say, can she please be accommodated as deputy? But we had already firmed up Lindiwe Sisulu,” the lobbyist reportedly said.
Others alleged that her move could be a sign that there is no longer room for her on Zuma’s team. But whatever be the reason for her endorsement, the most important thing is that the CR17 team just got expanded.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Sisulu, has endorsed former AU chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as her preferred candidate. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, the minister said because her endorsement would ensure that there is gender parity in the top and bottom structures of the ANC.
Zulu, one of President Jacob Zuma’s fiercest defenders, added that it would be a “historic moment” in the history of the party and the country if Dlamini-Zuma is elected ANC president.
Thousands of delegates from the ruling party are currently voting in Johannesburg for President Jacob Zuma’s successor and other national leadership officials. The vote began in the early hours of Monday and is still going on.
The eventual winner is expected to compete with the opposition in the 2019 general elections.
Who is Baleka Mbete?
Born 24 September 1949, in Durban, Baleka has been the Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa since May 2014. This was after she served as the National Assembly Speaker from 2004 to 2008 as well as SA’s Deputy President from 2008 to 2009.
Mbete’s second nomination as the Speaker of the House saw a unanimous election which earned her the position, having beat her contender; former Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela. However, Mbete’s administration witnessed a turn of events after a motion of no confidence was reportedly submitted against her. The motion was submitted by the Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters, and three other parties who frowned upon the idea of her having to speak for the Assembly right after heading the ANC. But to the disappointment of the complainants, there was no significant change regarding the issue.
Mbete became the National Chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) in 2007 after she was elected. She was re-elected in 2012 and served until 18 December 2017.
Like her political counterparts, She also has a fair share of political controversies in the course of her work. The Mpumalanga license controversy featured one of SA’s prominent personalities Mbete who at the time, said she was too busy to stand in queues hence, the reason she acquired an invalid license. The Durban born politician has also had a fair share of probings regarding her businesses.
There’s more, Mbete has been criticised by many as being partial and biased and only working in favour of the ruling party; some have even gone as far as describing her as Zuma’s puppet. All these come with politics some may say, but we may never find out the true story behind her endorsement of the deputy president in the ANC presidential race.