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Race for ANC top six positions heats up, here’s who has been touted for deputy

Horse trading is under way for key positions in the ANC top six, with the most hotly contended post being that of deputy president, for which up to eight names are being touted.

The Sunday Times understands that the dominant faction is in agreement that President Cyril Ramaphosa must get another term, but there could be a bitter contest for the deputy presidency of the party and the position of secretary-general at its elective conference in December.

Front-runners for the deputy presidency include rising star and current justice minister Ronald Lamola. Treasurer-general Paul Mashatile has also raised his hand. 

However, some surprise names being mentioned in ANC structures as the youth and women’s leagues push for a generational and gender mix include human settlements minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, another rising star in the party, and SA’s high commissioner to New Zealand, Vuyiswa Tulelo.

Veteran Thandi Modise could also be a strong contender if the ANC Women’s League succeeds in pushing for a female candidate for the No 2  position in the party.

However, she could be up against former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka who has returned from the UN and is seriously being talked about for the deputy president position.

It is a position that could determine who succeeds Ramaphosa in five years.

But incumbent David Mabuza is said to be considering staying on, with one insider close to him saying he had changed his mind about not returning when his term ends in December. 

Deputy President David Mabuza

“From what I understand, No 1 [Ramaphosa] and No 2 [Mabuza] are returning as a package,” said a source close to Mabuza.

It is not clear if Mabuza will be challenged should he avail himself for election again. Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe is also being mentioned as interested in the deputy presidency of the party.

Gwede Mantashe. Pic: BABA JIYANE

Those close to Mashatile are said to be lobbying provinces to openly discuss names and agree on a top six to avoid a contest  that could divide the party even further

The insider said they had begun talks with Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

From what I understand, No 1 [Ramaphosa] and No 2 [Mabuza] are returning as a package

A source close to Mabuza

All provinces will be represented either in the top six or in the party’s national executive committee, the associate said.

Provinces with a bigger pool of delegates such as KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape will be offered positions in the top six, with KwaZulu-Natal to be offered the secretary-general position and the Eastern Cape the treasurer-general position.

“We want them to openly discuss in their regions and provinces so that by the time we go to conference we already know what is happening,” said the insider.

Mashatile is said to have tried to trade with Lamola, trying to convince the latter to stand for the party’s national chairmanship while he aims his sights at the deputy presidency. Lamola is said to have rebuffed the offer.

He is said to have argued that it is about time young people took charge of the ANC.

“I can tell you now that when nominations open he will raise his hand for the deputy president position. 

“Whatever those guys want to do, he’s not interested,” said a source privy to Lamola’s intentions. 

The justice minister declined to comment. 

Mashatile also declined to comment.

ANC Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile

Should the push for a female candidate succeed, Modise and Kubayi seem to be the strongest contenders so far.

The former speaker of parliament and ex-North West premier has experience  in  ANC structures, the legislature and in governance, according to those pushing for her.

Kubayi, far  junior to Modise, is said to have been backed by a number of senior people in the ANC.

“What I seem to understand to be happening is that she has been approached and she is indicating interest in the position,” said an insider in her camp.

“People who approached her are found in various structures of the ANC. There is a section of the women’s league, another section is in the NEC and comrades in the cabinet. They have approached her for the very same position.

“As far as I’m concerned she is going to accept the nomination when she is formally approached.”

Kubayi declined to comment.

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal  — the ANC’s biggest provincial voting bloc — is treading cautiously ahead of the elective conference, with provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli saying contestation for leadership positions has caused great divisions in the past.

Provincial officials met NEC members from the province to map the way forward.

Ntuli said the gathering was the result of a provincial executive committee decision taken after the 2019 elections. 

He said while they couldn’t curb people’s personal ambitions as they relate to leadership positions, the meeting was committed to creating a common frame of mind so that personal ambitions did not harm the province’s unity. ​

Sunday Times

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