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Bloemfontein - The prospect of billionaire Cyril Ramaphosa being elected as the deputy president of the ANC at the party’s elective conference in Mangaung has received a mixed reaction, with some observers saying it would bring stability to the movement.
On other hand, some commentators have suggested his likely election as the deputy president of the party – and possibly as the deputy president of the country in 2014 – could send the wrong message about the ANC’s commitment to fighting inequality.
Ramaphosa – a brilliant businessman who also boasts experience as a capable political operator and a strong labour background – was expected on Monday to easily win the position of deputy president in a contest against ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa and Tokyo Sexwale.
Ramaphosa has served the ANC as one of the top six officials before in the 1990s.
Two leading political commentators – Professor Adam Habib and Dr Somadoda Fikeni – said his likely election to this key position presented the ruling party with both positives and negatives.
However, KwaZulu-Natal ANC secretary Sihle Zikalala differed, saying Ramaphosa brought much-needed skills to the ruling party.
“He will help the ANC connect and relate better with the business sector, intellectuals and younger voters, especially those born after the unbanning of the ANC in 1990,” he said.
Up to three million new and young voters are expected to appear on the voters roll in 2014, which could take the number of eligible voters close to the 25 million mark.
Fikeni noted that Ramaphosa brought into the ANC leadership a high-profile personality. He was a figure who had led the negotiations process leading to democracy and helped craft the constitution.
“He also boasts a labour background. He might bring confidence to business because he is close to them. But it might just be big business than small ones,” said Fikeni.
Habib said he thought it “ironic” that the ANC, which was committed to fighting inequality, was electing a billionaire as the deputy president. “I do not think electing a billionaire as the deputy president sends correct message about the commitment to fight inequality.” - The Mercury