The race for the ANC leadership to succeed Jacob Zuma as president is going down to the wire.
This follows the completion of the nomination processes by the party’s nine provinces yesterday.
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, as expected, trounced deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa by 433 nominations to 193 but the numbers were reversed in Limpopo where Ramaphosa led the nominations by 391 to 104.
The provincial general council (PGC) also nominated David Mabuza (deputy president), Ace Magashule (secretary-general), Nathi Mthethwa (national chairperson), Nomvula Mokonyane (treasurer-general) and Jessie Duarte (deputy secretary-general) also got the nod for the remaining top six positions.
To date, Dlamini Zuma has managed to secure the backing of the Free State, North West and Mpumalanga provinces. The decision by 223 delegates at the Mpumalanga PGC to abstain, in the name of unity, from nominating a candidate for the presidential post caused a stir last week.
Meanwhile, the issue of unity was the main focus point at the KZN ANC provincial general council in Durban.
Opening the conference, ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete, said members must not shame the party and behave in an unruly manner at the conference. She said while the issue of electing leadership would be on the agenda, it would not divide the party.
“We won’t fight at the conference as others expect us to,” she said, adding it was agreed that there would be no divisive regalia allowed at the conference venue.
Delivering his political overview report, the party’s chairperson in the province, Sihle Zikalala, said unity was paramount as divisions would result in a loss of public confidence. He was at pains trying to explain to high-spirited delegates that any further split must be avoided.
He said the recent decision by the SACP to contest the Metsimaholo byelections in the Free State was worrisome and they should be engaged on unity matters. He warned that should the alliance collapse, the national democratic revolution would be derailed.
“There exists a real possibility that if a bruising contest is not averted in the 54th national conference and certain leaders are left out, the SACP will leave the alliance and it will indeed eat into the support of the ANC,” he said.
Delivering his message of support on behalf of the SACP, provincial secretary Themba Mthembu also stressed the issue of unity.
“We are not asking but we are demanding that there should be unity in the ANC and alliance,” he said.
The Limpopo province’s backing for Ramaphosa added to the support he has already received from the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng.
At yesterday’s Limpopo PGC Lindiwe Sisulu (deputy president), Senzo Mchunu (secretary-general), Gwede Mantashe (national chairperson), Paul Mashatile (treasurer-general) and Zingiswa Losi (deputy secretary-general) also got the nod for the remaining top six positions. ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte told delegates that unity in the party was paramount.
“It doesn’t matter who emerges victorious because they can’t lead without the ANC.
“It is everyone’s right to vote for who they want, that preference must be respected. Whoever wins must be supported by all of us,” Duarte said.
She also said that “no slogans, no T-shirts of preferred candidates and no insults, booing or cheering” would be allowed at the upcoming elective conference.
Provincial chairperson Stan Mathabatha also preached unity.
“No leader should be greater than the party. The party needs to resolve issues internally and refrain from going to court. We can’t afford to have leaders that are easy on corruption. We need a leadership that will do the right things,” he said.