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Plan were afoot last night to find a replacement for businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, who declined to become President Jacob Zuma’s ANC deputy at the eleventh hour.
The ANC national executive committee (NEC) member apparently cited respect for, and his close relationship with, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Zuma’s main challenger, forged over many years during their time as leaders of the National Union of Mineworkers.
Both he and Motlanthe, who are former NUM secretaries-general, had accepted the nomination for ANC deputy president.
The Star understands that Zuma supporters were working until late last night to decide whether national chairperson Baleka Mbete or party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe should replace Ramaphosa.
Three highly placed sources confirmed that Ramaphosa had told their lobby group he was no longer keen to be Zuma’s running mate.
One source said the businessman allegedly privately expressed concerns that the Zuma camp had failed to offer him a post-Mangaung deal that would clarify his future.
Ramaphosa allegedly also felt Zuma lobbyists were using him to marginalise Motlanthe, who they suddenly hated with a passion for challenging the ANC leader.
Whoever is elected Zuma’s deputy at the elective conference is most likely to replace Motlanthe as the country’s deputy president. That is if Motlanthe fails in his bid to depose Zuma as ANC leader in what is likely to be a bruising leadership battle.
The odds appear stacked against Motlanthe, and an electoral loss would make a bad situation worse, in that he is most likely to be recalled, as ex-president Thabo Mbeki was, added a second source.
Ramaphosa failed to respond to calls and a text message last night, while Mbete could not be reached.
ANC national spokesman Ishmael Mnisi said the party was not aware of Ramaphosa’s withdrawal or any horse-trading between rival factions.
The ANC’s electoral commission would “in due course” release information on who had accepted or declined nomination.
“Any other insinuation relating to the issues of nomination will be best handled by the authentic and official structures responsible for elections, which is the electoral commission,” said Mnisi.
The possible candidacy of Mbete and Mantashe came as the political horse-trading intensified between rival factions in an attempt to agree on an inclusive and unifying top six.
“Cyril is refusing on the basis of respect. He feels they (he and Motlanthe) are friends and have been together during difficult times, and he can’t allow this thing to complicate their relationship,” said the source, who is a Zuma lobbyist.
He added that Mbete and Free State Premier Ace Magashule had been earmarked for the post of deputy president.
“Last night they (Motlanthe supporters) went to court to interdict conference, now that they can see the numbers (which are unfavourable to them).”
A Zuma lobbyist claimed that Motlanthe supporters planned to question the credentials or raise the registration of “bogus” Limpopo delegates by Luthuli House so as to collapse the conference. A Motlanthe lobbyist dismissed the claim as nonsense.
A third source, also a Zuma lobbyist, said Mantashe was the front-runner to replace Ramaphosa.
If Mbete were to return, it would be several years after she left the same position in a huff. She threw tantrums when Motlanthe was announced as the country’s deputy president.
She cited the party’s 50-50 gender parity, which recommended that women be represented in top ANC leadership and government structures, including the presidency. - The Star
Sapa reports that Independent Newspapers deputy political editor Gaye Davis has resigned following a report in The Star that businessman Cyril Ramaphosa had refused a nomination to be ANC deputy president.
“I had no hand in writing the story,” Davis said on Tuesday.
“I did, however, early on Sunday evening, get confirmation from Mr Ramaphosa that - contrary to what the article was stating - he had accepted and signed his nomination form,” she said in a statement sent to Sapa.
Davis had been group deputy political editor since October 2008. She said she contacted Ramaphosa and personally informed him of her decision to resign. - Sapa
THE STAR'S RESPONSE
And so it is that Cyril Ramaphosa not only accepted nomination to be ANC deputy president, he has now become one.