Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma’s trusted allies and lieutenants have come out on top after the ANC’s gruelling national list conference at the weekend.
The list, which was leaked, saw his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba and Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor emerge as the three most-popular ANC leaders after Zuma was endorsed by structures to lead the party into the forthcoming general elections.
Ramaphosa looks set to go to the cabinet as Zuma’s deputy in the event that the ANC retains its majority, putting to rest earlier speculation that ANC national chairwoman Baleka Mbete might succeed Kgalema Motlanthe as the country’s deputy president.
Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor also showed strongly, emerging as number four on the list packed with a combination of hard workers and Zuma’s loyalists and defenders.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 13th spot is likely to reassure business of continuity after earlier speculation that his deputy, Nhlanhla Nene, was poised to replace him.
However, it was the resounding endorsement of Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and other former ANC Youth League leaders that was likely to set tongues wagging.
Mbalula came in at number six, a move that cements his place in the party and almost certainly the cabinet.
This was despite his opposition to Zuma’s return as party president in Mangaung last year, a move that resulted in his exclusion from the ANC national executive committee (NEC).
Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba’s star keeps rising – he again came in the top five in the ANC. Together with Lulu Johnson, who also made it, Gigaba and Mbalula are former ANCYL presidents.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, his deputy, Jeremy Cronin, and the party’s deputy chairman, Thulas Nxesi, as well as Young Communist League national secretary Buti Manamela also received the nod.
Former Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza, a one-time Thabo Mbeki loyalist, made a remarkable comeback at number 15.
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane and Public Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu complete the top 10.
While this is neither an official ANC list nor a full one, it has been confirmed by several sources.
The ANC on Tuesday did not release its full list of election candidates, with party general secretary Gwede Mantashe promising to make it public after “cleaning” it. However, he made it clear that being high on the list did not guarantee anybody a cabinet post or premiership.
“When you are on the list it doesn’t determine deployment as a cabinet minister. It’s not the top three (on the list) who are considered for premiers. It’s the three names proposed by the province,” Mantashe said.
He said no ANC structures had raised concern about Zuma’s being the face of the party’s election campaign.
This came amid reports that some structures in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal had raised concern about his returning to the country’s presidency because of the Nkandla saga.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu refused to comment on the unofficial list.
“I do not want to legitimate ghost sources. The ANC has not released its candidates list and would do so at an appropriate time.
“What I can confirm is that President Jacob Zuma is number one on the list followed by comrade Cyril Ramaphosa,” Mthembu said.
“I cannot respond to any other issues and I do not want to legitimise ghost sources.”
Mbalula said: “I am not aware of it and I am not prepared to talk about it. The list is the list of the ANC. Talk to the secretary-general about it.”
Gigaba, Sisulu and Manamela failed to respond to calls.
According to The Star’s sources, these are the top 30 ANC leaders on election lists endorsed by party structures at the weekend.
1. Jacob Zuma
2. Cyril Ramaphosa
3. Malusi Gigaba
4. Naledi Pandor
5. Jeff Radebe
6. Fikile Mbalula
7. Blade Nzimande
8 Bathabile Dlamini
9. Lindiwe Sisulu
10. Collins Chabane
11. Angie Motshekga
12. Nathi Mthethwa
13. Pravin Gordhan
14. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
15. Thoko Didiza
16. Aaron Motsoaledi
17. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
18. Derek Hanekom
19. Max Sisulu
20. Baleka Mbete
21. Thulas Nxesi
22. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
23. Kgalema Motlanthe
24. Zizi Kodwa
25. S’bu Ndebele
26. Jeremy Cronin
27. Edna Molewa
28. Buti Manamela
29. Lulu Johnson
30. Jackson Mthembu