President Cyril Ramaphosa looks set to retain his position as leader of the governing African National Congress at its elective conference next month after securing backing from most of the party’s structures, smoothing his path to a second term.
Ramaphosa received 2 037 nominations for the ANC presidency, while former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize got 916, Kgalema Motlanthe, the party’s head of elections, told reporters at its Johannesburg headquarters on Tuesday.
Paul Mashatile, currently the ANC’s treasurer-general, appears to be a shoo-in to replace David Mabuza as deputy leader, securing 1 791 nominations, while Justice Minister Ronald Lamola got 427 and Oscar Mabuyane 397.
All those who were nominated had agreed to stand, according to Motlanthe. More nominations can be made from the conference floor, he said.
Ramaphosa succeeded Jacob Zuma as head of Africa’s oldest political movement in December 2017 after edging out Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the top job by just 179 votes, and became president two months later. Winning re-election decisively would help him cement control over the party, giving him more scope to follow though on a pledge to clamp down on corruption and push through unpopular decisions needed to revive the struggling economy, and bring runaway state debt under control.
Under the ANC’s rules, its leader will also be its presidential candidate in national elections scheduled for 2024. The party has led Africa’s most-industrialised economy since winning the first multiracial elections in 1994.
The president’s campaign suffered a setback in July, when former spy boss Arthur Fraser accused him of covering up the 2020 theft of foreign currency from his game farm and laid criminal charges against him.
Parliament is set to receive a report on the scandal from an independent panel next week that will include a recommendation to the Speaker on whether lawmakers should consider impeaching him.
The report will be debated by parliament on December 6, just 10 days before the ANC’s elective conference begins. Law enforcement agencies, the nation’s anti-graft ombudsman and the central bank are also investigating the matter, and under ANC rules Ramaphosa will have to vacate his post if he is charged.
Mkhize is facing travails of his own – he was forced to resign from the cabinet in August last year after some of his close associates were implicated in a tender scandal. He hasn’t faced criminal charges and denies any wrongdoing.
Contenders for the ANC’s other top positions include:
- Mdumiseni Ntuli, the ANC’s former secretary in the KwaZulu-Natal province: 1,225 nominations
- Phumulo Masualle, the deputy minister of public enterprises and the ANC’s chairman in the Eastern Cape province: 889 nominations
- Fikile Mbalula, the transport minister: 749 nominations
- Nomvula Mokonyane, a former minister of environmental affairs and former premier of the Gauteng province: 1 779 nominations
- Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, a former deputy chief of staff at the African Union Commission: 905 nominations
- Stanley Mathabatha, the premier of the Limpopo province: 1 492 nominations
- Gwede Mantashe, the mineral resources and energy minister, and incumbent ANC chairman: 979 nominations
- David Masondo, the deputy finance minister: 501 nominations
- Bejani Chauke, a special adviser to Ramaphosa: 552 nominations
- Pule Mabe, the ANC’s spokesman: 428 nominations
- Mzwandile Masina, the former mayor of the Ekurhuleni municipality: 348 nominations