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Another second-term endorsement for Ramaphosa while Mpumalanga ANC battles to go to conference

Another second-term endorsement for Ramaphosa while Mpumalanga ANC battles to go to conference
Cyril Ramaphosa (left) and David Mabuza during the African National Congress elective conference on 18 December 2017 in Johannesburg. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

The call is largely symbolic — the party’s National Working Committee recently said such nominations should start only after August, and since the leaders who made this call aren’t actually the province’s elected leadership.

ANC leaders entrusted with the task of organising the party’s elective conference in Mpumalanga have called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to run for a second term as ANC president. 

The call is largely symbolic as the party’s National Working Committee recently said such nominations should start only after August, and since the leaders who made this call aren’t actually the province’s elected leadership. 

“We promise that in 2024 we are going to use the ballot box to retain power,” said Mandla Ndlovu, convenor of the provincial task team established this week after what remained of the provincial leadership was disbanded. “President CR, if there [are] calls from branches calling for your second term, don’t say no to that call,” he said, according to TimesLIVE.

Mpumalanga is, after Limpopo, the ANC’s strongest province electorally and the party is in power outright in all but three municipalities there.

Ndlovu is a strong contender for the provincial chairperson position, but he is expected to run against leaders from at least two or three other factions and he doesn’t as yet have an elective mandate from ANC branch members in the province. 

Ndlovu’s call was risky as one of his allies, Speedy Mashilo, was recently booed by delegates of the Nkangala region, of which he is the leader, when he called on them to support Ramaphosa for a second term. 

Also, it might not have been procedurally correct or technically meaningful, but it comes in addition to similar calls from Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape (which went to conference last year and is the only one of the four provinces with up-to-date leadership structures) and would have served to boost the morale of his campaign.

There is near consensus in the ANC that Ramaphosa is unlikely to face a serious challenge at the party’s elective conference in December, but some of his opponents, such as Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and former health minister Zweli Mkhize, have been testing the waters. 

Ramaphosa himself has not responded to calls for him to run for a second term. Instead, during his visit to the province on Monday, he played dumb and jokingly told journalists, according to News24: “I am hard of hearing these days, and I did not quite hear what he [Ndlovu] said.”

Ndlovu’s pronouncement is a departure from the posture the province assumed before the 2017 Nasrec conference, when David Mabuza insisted it would support “unity” and not any one candidate. At the eleventh hour, the then provincial leader Mabuza struck a deal with Ramaphosa and convinced his supporters to vote for Ramaphosa for president of the ANC, while Ramaphosa’s supporters, in turn, supported Mabuza for deputy. It is this margin of votes that won Ramaphosa the leadership over Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. 

Mpumalanga’s ANC structures were supposed to have gone to a provincial conference this weekend. It has failed to do so for more than three years since Mabuza was elected party deputy president and vacated his position in the province. 

The conference has now been postponed to at least the end of the month.

Some said it’s Mabuza’s continued iron grip on the province — he has a reputation as a micromanager with an eye for detail — that has made it difficult to hold a conference. 

Ramaphosa was positive about his meeting with branches in the province, reportedly saying that he had witnessed “a beautiful display of unity, of purpose in the meeting”.

Ramaphosa also said while the ANC structures in the province had asked him for a date for their conference, “I told them I am not the secretary-general, and the date must be given by the secretary-general’s office.” 

He said he was grateful that the delegates looked ready for a conference.

Former provincial acting secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, who is now provincial coordinator, said the province had 20 more than the 280 properly constituted branches needed for a quorum to go to conference. This is now expected to happen at the end of the month, but there is talk that there could be an attempt to interdict the conference because the task team mostly reflects the members in the now-disbanded leadership.

Ramaphosa’s visit to the province also came amid reports of violence and shootings at branch meetings, but it was reportedly also to consolidate his support on the ground in the province, which is expected to send the fourth-largest delegation to the elective conference and could therefore act as a kingmaker. 

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the ANC would issue an official statement on the visit on Tuesday. 

Ramaphosa’s visit to the province comes amid what is touted as a renewal campaign within the party, with former president Thabo Mbeki visiting the Free State last week. DM

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