South Africa

Cyril in the middle as race for deputy president hots up (updated)

By Ranjeni Munusamy 16 December 2012

While Zuma is cruising towards a second term, all eyes are now focussed on the race for the position of deputy president, which took an unexpected turn today as Cyril Ramaphosa accepted nomination for the position. This came after Ramaphosa met Motlanthe and offered him a deal that he refused. By Ranjeni Munusamy/NewsFire.

Businessman and senior ANC member Cyril Ramaphosa has met President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe in separate meetings ahead of the start of the ANC’s 53rd conference in Mangaung to discuss his candidacy for a senior position in the party. While Zuma is cruising towards a second term, the race for the position of deputy president is heating up.

NewsFire has learnt ANC heavyweight Cyril Ramaphosa offered to withdraw from the race for the position of ANC deputy president if Kgalema Motlanthe does not contest President Jacob Zuma for the presidency. Ramaphosa met Motlanthe on Saturday to discuss a deal which would enable a deal for Zuma and his deputy to retain their positions.

But Motlanthe apparently declined to withdraw from the race for the presidency, on the grounds that it would be a betrayal of the will of the ANC branches for a behind-the-scenes deal to be reached. Ramaphosa has now accepted nomination for the position of deputy president, setting up an epic four-way race which includes Mathews Phosa and Tokyo Sexwale.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has accepted nomination for both president and deputy president, in addition to his nomination as an ordinary member of the National Executive Committee (NEC). National treasurer Mathews Phosa and human settlements minister Tokyo Sexwale are also in the running for the position.

Ramaphosa, who left active politics in the mid-1990s and built a formidable business empire, has always indicated that he would only accept calls for his return to a senior position in the ANC if he was not contested. He was drawn into the divisive pre-Mangaung leadership battle by Zuma lobbyists after Motlanthe refused to back down from contesting the presidency or to engage in talks on a deal to maintain the status quo in the party. Motlanthe said he would only obey the will of the ANC branches and has therefore accepted candidacy for all the positions for which he has been nominated.

Even though talk was rife on day one of the five day party conference that Ramaphosa has accepted nomination for the position of deputy president, it is understood that there is still a flurry of behind-the-scenes talks to persuade him to remain in the race. Ramaphosa could still withdraw from the election on the floor of the conference.

Ramaphosa met with Motlanthe last Tuesday but it is believed no definite agreement was reached. The two are both former general secretaries of the National Union of Mineworkers and are apparently reluctant to go head-to-head in an election showdown.

NewsFire also understands that Ramaphosa met with Zuma on Saturday night, with the president trying to convince him to not to withdraw his candidacy. The relationship between Zuma and Motlanthe has apparently reached an all-time low and sources say the president is determined to replace his deputy. But Ramaphosa has apparently said he did not want to be “used” by any faction in the party.

With the conference schedule running behind time on the opening day, it remains to be seen whether nominations are able to proceed on Sunday night as planned. If they do, voting will take place on Monday. DM

Photo: Greg Nicolson/NewsFire


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