Johannesburg - As the ANC celebrated its election victory on Saturday, it emerged that the party was embroiled in a fresh succession debate over who will be President Cyril Ramaphosa’s deputy.
Independent Media can reveal that lobbying is under way for a new deputy president as Ramaphosa prepares to announce his new, trimmed Cabinet.
Ramaphosa is expected to drop controversial ministers who are seen as allies of former president Jacob Zuma and are at the centre of allegations of wrongdoing.
It has come to light that Deputy President David Mabuza was no longer guaranteed to retain his powerful position as the second-in-command.
It is understood that groupings in the ANC are pushing for former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma or International Relations and Co-operation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to replace Mabuza.
Sisulu’s advisor, Thami ka Plaatjie, confirmed that the minister was being approached.
“We are aware of growing voices that seek her to ascend the position of deputy president and those that wish for a credible female candidate. But she is too focused on ANC and international relations work to give any attention to such overtures,” he said.
Asked about the lobbying for Dlamini Zuma, ANC Women’s League secretary, Meokgo Matuba said: “We have heard about it, but we can’t say anything”.
ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula told Independent Media that the party had given a mandate that the government would look at reconfiguration of the cabinet and then report back.
“The ANC will discuss that (report) and give the president the mandate and he will then go together with the leaders of the ANC, having consulted them to constitute his cabinet on the 25th of May after the inauguration (of the president),” he said.
Mbalula said the ANC’s principled position was that Cabinet should be reduced because of the harsh economic conditions prevailing in the country.
“We need competent and fast-moving individuals to be in cabinet... the principle of reducing cabinet is going to be implemented,” he said.
The governing party shed over 1.4 million voters in this week’s national and provincial elections in all nine provinces, suffering its biggest loss in KwaZulu-Natal.
The governing party’s tally of more than 11.4 million voters dropped to just above 10 million this week but its secretary-general Ace Magashule said the fact of the matter was that the majority of people in South Africa still have confidence in the ANC.
Overall the ANC dropped to below 60% nationally for the first time since 1994, obtaining 57.5% of the votes, down from 62.15% in 2014. Speaking to the media just before the elections were declared, Mbalula reiterated that Ramaphosa was the reason behind the ANC’s victory.
“We came from zero and now we are where we are and we know to get 10 million is not a child’s play. It is hard work by this leadership, led by President Ramaphosa, who became a game changer in this election,” Mbalula said.
On Friday, Magashule slammed Mbalula’s comments as nonsense, saying people had voted for the ANC and not an individual.
Mbalula repeated his comments yesterday at a press conference where Magashule was present.
ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said the governing party was humbled by being installed back in power nationally and in eight of the nine provinces.
She said the election outcome was sent a message to the ANC that while South Africans still backed the party, they wanted change in how the organisation did things.
“The national executive committee, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, appreciate the enormity of the task ahead and thanks the people of South Africa with great humility for this mandate and confidence,” she said.
“South Africans want a government that works for them and that is efficient and free from corruption. They want to see an end to state capture and swift action against those responsible for wrongdoing.
Speaking at the announcement of the results in Pretoria yesterday, Ramaphosa called on South Africans and political parties to accept them.
He expressed gratitude to the leaders of political parties that had contested the elections for their conduct, which he said had contributed to the peaceful political climate in the build-up to the election.
“Yes, there was a lot of contestation. There was a lot of exchange of wonderful words to each other, difficult words, and harsh words to each other, but we were all in a contest,” Ramaphosa said.
“Our people have now spoken and all of us are called upon to accept the word and the will of our people irrevocably.”