Who’s who in the ANC’s No 2 zoo? Princess, Ozzy and the rest of the motley crew

Who’s who in the ANC’s No 2 zoo? Princess, Ozzy and the rest of the motley crew
From left: Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Edrea du Toit) | Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane | Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola. (Photo: Gallo Images/ Darren Stewart) | Deputy President David Mabuza. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo) | Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele. (Photo: Gallo Images / OJ Koloti)

If only Nelson Mandela were still with us to breathe life into the ANC. But he’s not, so we must make do with the ineffectual bunch likely to aim for the party’s deputy presidency. It’s quite a cast of characters.

As the ANC prepares for its elective conference in December, the consensus seems to be that Cyril “Rama Soft” Ramaphosa is an uncontested shoo-in for the presidency of the organisation, if you can call it an organisation, but the deputy presidency is wide open.

The conference is only three months away, so the speculation about who will throw their hat into the ring (and “hat” is not a cryptic reference to Bheki Cele) is reaching fever pitch. Expect the temperature to rise in the coming months, and by the time the party actually gathers to vote on its new leadership it will have reached a high similar to that achieved by the human body in the throes of dengue fever.

It is a little surprising, yes, that it’s only really starting to heat up now, because the office-bearing members of the ANC do nothing but scramble and claw for power within the organisation, while the non-office-bearers strike for the salaries they should have got in March, or do what is now known as “quiet quitting”. That is, they go through the motions while doing as little as possible of their jobs.

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This is why you can’t get through to Luthuli House on the phone, unless it’s because the phone has been cut off by whoever oversees landlines nowadays. Such old technology. It’s probably Gwede Mantashe who’s in charge of technological adaptation and, gawd knows, he’s not in favour of any ­technology developed after about 1901 (what’s a computer?).

So, to enlighten our readers as to the likely contestants for this position, we have a list of the foremost candidates, with some commentary on their chances as provided by a raft (as in The Raft of the Medusa) of analysts and psychiatrists. We are not going on policy positions, because nobody has nailed their colours to the policy mast yet, probably because they’re still trying to work out what in fact emerged from the ANC’s recent policy conference as policy priorities, or they’re still wading through the complicated analysis of the multiclass lumpen resistance to revolution as set out in the ANC’s lead discussion document.

Here goes:

Paul Mashatile

Regarded as a favourite for this position. We say that because he’s relatively young and apparently has lots of energy, or at least more energy than any of the existing Cabinet members (quiet quitting?) and certainly more than any of our sleepy parliamentarians. He has been lying low for now, building support quietly, when he’s not going begging to Patrice Motse­pe to donate a few million so they can keep the lights on at Luthuli House. Well, they can’t always keep the lights on there, because load shedding, but we can take this as metaphorical.

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Paul says his legendary energy has been boosted by all that wrangling over positions and criminal investigations at the ANC’s regional conferences, as well as a healthy diet and exercise, which he defines as taking the stairs at Luthuli House because the lifts don’t work.

DD Mabuza

The present deputy president is a notoriously dark horse, so we haven’t heard a word from him for ages. That means he’s either back in Russia for more injections or he’s hiding out somewhere plotting his continued hold on the deputy presidency. He may be in Mpumalanga raising money from his former constituency there, calling in some favours from the people he enriched and empowered in one of his dodgy… sorry, masterful schemes.

Lindiwe Sisulu

The Princess is likely to maintain the line that she will not go for the deputy presidency but for the presidency itself, because she deserves the best and only the best. She’s also well on her way to beating Jeff Radebe’s record for holding the most different Cabinet positions, and she certainly doesn’t want to end up in a kak job like Ambassador to the Court of St James.

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If she ever finds a constituency, she could go for a campaign along the lines of “It’s time for a woman president”, her campaign for indigenous nail polish for all South African women having floundered, but she’s also likely to drop her presidency campaign and go for the deputy presidency if it looks like that’s the only option. Let it not be said Ms Sisulu is not pragmatic when it counts. And, we remind you, in the words of the old proverb, that a Ms is as good as a mile.

Ronald Lamola

Time for some young blood in the ANC’s old veins, they say. We agree. We remember when last the ANC underwent some kind of renewal – it was in the 1940s, when Nelson Mandela was young and vigorous, and that rejuvenation has stood the party in good stead for the past 70 years. If he weren’t dead, we’d probably call upon him to do that trick again. He could pretend to be young, even if he’s 104, and we’d believe him.

In his absence, we have to look to the La­molas of the world. Lamola has stood firm against the release from jail of former president Jacob Zuma, not that he could do anything about it, despite being the minister of justice. This is what we call being anti-corruption, so good for him.

Also, he’s young enough that he’s in with a chance for the next leadership contest – this campaign will be excellent preparation for 2027. His middle name, Ozzy, by which he is also affectionately known to members of the legal community, is not – definitely not – to be linked in any way with an old heavy-­metal rocker of the same name who is retiring to Britain because the National Health Service there is cheaper than health insurance in the US. Lamola is our Ozzy. All he needs is an electric guitar.

Mmamoloko Kubayi

The minister of tourism without tourists could steal Ms Lindi’s “Time for a woman (deputy) president” slogan, which Ms Lindi could well drop because she needs both hands to do her hair.

Kubayi is also known for serving in five Cabinet portfolios without making a dent in any of them, so that’s a plus.

Mondli Gungubele

Who? DM168

Shaun de Waal is a writer and editor.

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.


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