South Africa

South Africa

Elections 2014: How the ANC’s top guns line up

Tuesday was a befuddling day in politics. The Democratic Alliance leadership, led by Helen Zille (still the DA's ELECTED leader) gave South Africans the impression that they could vote directly for their next president, whom they believe should be their new recruit, Mamphela Ramphele. (We can’t, obviously.) Then the ANC gave a rundown of their long, complicated process of compiling their election lists. The ANC did not, as expected, reveal the names on the lists. While there appears to be few surprises on the list, the only certainty is the Jacob Zuma tops the list, and is thus on the road to a second term as South Africa’s president. Daily Maverick managed to peek through the wall to understand what Team Zuma Reloaded will look like. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

It is, of course, no big surprise that President Jacob Zuma is number one on the ANC national list. His re-election as ANC president at Mangaung in December 2012 guaranteed that. He is the most popular leader in the ANC, democratically elected by its structures. So how the rest of South Africa might feel about him and his leadership of the country does not affect the well-insulated ANC processes.

According to the ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, reports that some party structures were worried about Zuma being the top of the ticket in light of the numerous scandals under his watch were incorrect. “There is no such concern in the ANC,” Mantashe said.

The number two position on the national list now belongs to Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC deputy president, which means he will return to Parliament after 17 years (he resigned as an MP in 1997). Ramaphosa returned to active politics after a deal with the Zuma camp ahead of the Mangaung conference which entailed them supporting him to succeed Zuma in exchange for him boosting their ticket. Despite rumblings that some in the Zuma camp had since changed their minds, that deal is now playing out.

While Cabinet appointments, including the position of deputy president, is the president’s prerogative, Ramaphosa looks a shoo-in to be second-in-charge in government. He will leave behind his massive business empire and he certainly will not do so for just any Cabinet position.

The person other person mentioned in connection with the position is ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete. Her name apparently appears on the ANC’s national list but if she accepts an MP position, she relinquishes her benefits as former deputy president of South Africa. Mbete was Kgalema Motlanthe’s deputy after Thabo Mbeki was recalled from office and as such qualifies for a number of benefits, including her income and security. In 2009, Mbete declined to return to Parliament so that she did not lose these benefits. The only position she would accept is that of deputy state president.

Addressing a media briefing at the ANC headquarters, Mantashe did not reveal the other names on the national and provincial lists approved by the ANC’s national list conference on Monday. He said that after “rigorous discussion”, the national list committee and ANC officials were mandated “to make final adjustments in line with the list criteria and discussions of conference”.

The following criteria is what the ANC used to compile its lists:

  • Geographical spread
  • At least 50% representation of women
  • Ensuring continuity and experience by having 60% sitting or former MPs and MPLs
  • Be broadly representative of the demographics of different provinces and the country as a whole
  • Reflect the liberation movement character of the ANC, including considering ANC members serving in Cosatu, the SACP, SA National Civics Organisation and Mass Democratic Movement structures
  • Good mix of youth and age, as well as people with disabilities
  • Specific areas of expertise to deal with the challenges of government especially in the priority areas of economic development, rural development, social development, safety and security, infrastructure development, and or technical areas like public finance or law
  • Candidates must be available for full-time parliamentary, party and constituency work and must be prepared to declare all other interests.

The lists have not been released as yet as the list committee and officials need to “clean” them and ensure that they meet these criteria. The top six officials are also to “engage” those on the list “facing allegations of wrongdoing”. While the official ANC line is that this will allow the accused persons the opportunity to explain their troubles to the officials, it will allow the top six to convince them quietly to decline nomination so that the party’s name is not dragged through the mud further. Presumably, nobody suggested that such discussions should also be held with a certain members of the top six who himself could be accused of the same.

The delay in releasing the lists will raise eyebrows about what other “adjustments” will be made. But Mantashe says while the list is “not cast in stone” the leaders do not have the freedom to change the lists as they like. They will be allowed to make adjustments to balance skills and other requirements set out in the criteria.

Mantashe said being at the top of the list did not guarantee that the candidates stood a better chance of Cabinet positions. He said this also applied to the provincial lists and the premierships. The ANC does not announce its premier candidates before the elections, but the nine provincial executive committees meet to decide on three names to forward to the president from which he decides on the candidates.

Daily Maverick understands that most of the people currently serving in the Cabinet occupy the top positions on the national list, therefore guaranteeing their return to Parliament. The one notable exception is National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, who looks likely to retire this year. He also declined nomination to the ANC national executive committee (NEC) at Mangaung. Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is also not returning to Parliament.

Pravin Gordhan, who is rumoured not to want to return to his finance portfolio, has accepted nomination for national Parliament. This signals that he will not be leaving government, although it is possible that he will serve in another portfolio. The ANC’s rising star and Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba apparently appears at number three on the list, indicating his growing popularity in the party. He is guaranteed a return to Cabinet, as will Zuma’s securocrats Nathi Mthethwa and Siyabonga Cwele, who are seen as “The Untouchables”.

Surprisingly, the Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who was voted off the NEC at Mangaung, appears very high up on the list, trumping some of the seniors in the party. Mbalula’s career appeared to be waning when he supported the Forces of Change campaign and ran against Mantashe for the position of secretary general at Mangaung. He now appears to have bounced back and is likely to remain in Cabinet.

While it was expected that some of the older generation ministers would make way for new blood, they all seem keen to hang on to Cabinet positions for another term.

Some of the new entries to the list include National Union of Mineworkers president Senzeni Zokwana and National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union general secretary Fikile Majola. Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini was nominated but declined. SACP leaders Blade Nzimande, Jeremy Cronin, Thulas Nxesi and Yunus Carrim are all on the national list and therefore likely to remain in Cabinet. Former Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza, who resigned after Mbeki’s recall, is set to return to Parliament.

Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane’s name apparently appears on both the national and provincial lists, suggesting that there is still debate about whether she should go to Parliament, where she stands in line for a Cabinet post, or remain in the province to retain the premiership. The ANC in Gauteng wants either the provincial chairman Paul Mashatile, provincial secretary David Makhura or Education MEC Barbara Creecy to be premier. Another province where there is likely to be a battle for premiership is KwaZulu-Natal, with the incumbent Senzo Mchunu facing stiff opposition.

In the Free State and Mpumalanga, strongmen Ace Magashule and David Mabuza remain at the top of their provincial lists, indicating they seek new terms as premiers.

The ANC leadership appears to be preparing those who will not make top positions on the lists for alternate deployment to local government. In his opening address to the list conference on Monday, Zuma apparently puzzled those gathered by talking about how the progression of leaders from local to provincial to national level was not the correct approach. He said there was no shame in serving as a councillor in a municipality and said he himself would not mind being a ward councillor at Nkandla.

The president’s statements gave rise to a discussion at the conference about how public positions should not be seen as “employment” but as “deployment” and therefore people should be prepared to serve in any position. This found expression in the ANC statement released to the media, which said there was a need “to strengthen local government as a critical sphere that is experiencing challenges of service delivery”.

“The NEC agreed with the principle of deployment of former ministers, deputy [ministers], members of Parliament, Premiers, MECs (provincial ministers), MPLs (members of provincial legislatures) and even formers Presidents and their deputies to strengthen local government. The ANC will then be engaging all its structures on this matter to secure an endorsement and agreement on this position in the next policy conference.”

This is likely to stir debate about who would be considered for downward deployment. No names were apparently mentioned at the list conference and Zuma serving as a councillor at Nkandla was the only example Mantashe gave at the media briefing. The deployment of experienced leaders and heavy hitters to local government could be the ANC strategy to stave off the numerous service delivery protests erupting across the country. It could also be a tactic to help the party retain or win power in key municipalities in the next local government elections in 2016.

But for now the focus remains on Elections 2014. The ANC still has time to fidget with its lists as the cut-off time for submitting its names to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will only be determined after the election date is announced by Zuma. He is likely to announce the date at his State of the Nation Address on 13 February, after which the IEC will set its timetable.

For now the only certainty is that Zuma is cruising towards a second presidential term, and his grip on power is protected by the securocrats and acolytes around him. And, yes, the Democratic Alliance’s new acquisition Mamphela Ramphele will do her best to turn a hopelessly long-shot into a hopeful bid to take Zuma’s place in the Union Buildings. Hardly a development that will make Team Zuma quake in their boots. DM

Photo of President Zuma by Jordi Matas.