DURBAN - THE ANC’s radical economic transformation (RET) faction is biding its time in choosing a presidential candidate as it waits for the outcome of court processes before making a decision ahead of the party’s national elective conference.
Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and former health minister Zweli Mkhize both have received support from branches. They have been on the campaign trail as they seek to challenge the position of party president Cyril Ramaphosa.
RET sources say suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule is a third option, although he is “technically unavailable” because of the party’s stepaside resolution.
Mkhize has his own legal matter. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found that the Department of Health, under Mkhize, irregularly approved tenders to communications company Digital Vibes worth R266 million. Mkhize has gone to court to have the SIU report set aside, while Parliament’s joint ethics and members’ interests committee cleared him of flouting the code of ethics for MPs.
Magashule is facing 21 charges of fraud and corruption related to a R225m asbestos removal tender during his tenure as premier. His attorneys plan to use the state capture inquiry’s latest report, which found no conclusive evidence against him, to have criminal charges dropped.
Sources say the RET faction is content with waiting to announce a preferred candidate, adding that the national executive committee’s amendment to the step-aside resolution was done to stop Magashule and Mkhize from running against Ramaphosa.
The resolution states that leaders charged with serious crimes cannot stand for any position in the party until they have concluded their court processes.
Mondli Mkhize, spokesperson for the regional executive committee of eThekwini (which won the regional slate on a ticket dominated by the RET faction, headed by former mayor Zandile Gumede) said talking about a faction leader was “premature” with regional and provincial conferences yet to take place. “There are opportunistic elements for or against Ramaphosa and that is problematic. Speaking for this region and in the context of KZN, when people talk about being for and against certain leaders, it dilutes the environment as you don’t get the best leaders.”
Former Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus said while he did not want to be seen as coming out in favour of any specific candidate, there should be one candidate representing the RET faction.
“Magashule must not be excluded from the process on the basis of a deeply flawed reformulated decision by the NEC. He most definitely is in the running like everyone else.
“There is no compelling evidence against him.”
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the issue of who would lead the RET faction was a complex one.
“Previously, we had a defined RET but now the anti-corruption and Zondo inquiry factors have cut across alliances.
“There are people who may not support the RET viewpoint but may join that grouping if they feel their political future and position is under threat.”
“My view is that the focus will be on what happens after this elective conference. The most sought after commodity, more precious than gold, is immunity or evasion from prosecution.”
Analyst Ntsikelelo Breakfast said it was a matter of time before the different contenders joined forces and presented one candidate.
“Lindiwe Sisulu may become the embodiment of the faction. The merging of the forces will happen soon as they cannot pose a threat to the CR faction if they are fragmented.”