Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)
The warm reception enjoyed by ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa at the party’s 107th birthday celebrations and the elections manifesto launch in KwaZulu-Natal shows he has won over the province, although former president Jacob Zuma still enjoys more support. 

This is the view of political analysts, who have also attributed Ramaphosa’s warm welcome to the efforts of the ANC in the province to forge unity.

Ramaphosa, accompanied by ANC KZN provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala and Zuma, crisscrossed KZN over a week ago and received a warm welcome in a province, which is a well-known Zuma stronghold.

At the weekend, as more than 100 000 ANC supporters and members descended upon the Moses Mabhida Stadium, there were no disruptions to Ramaphosa’s January 8th Statement despite concerns that pro-Zuma supporters might disrupt proceedings.

Imraan Buccus, a political analyst from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said Ramaphosa was trying really hard to assert his authority in the province, knowing fully well that it was a fractured and fragmented province.

“The other strategy is that he was not shying away from the fragmentation, but he was confronting it and that he understood that the strategic approach to that was to have Zuma and people like Sihle Zikalala by his side.

“Despite some whispers about him not always getting a great reception in KZN, I think many agree that this trip was a successful one. In part it has to do with the principle of politics where people came to coalesce around power after a while.

“Power is concentrated around Ramaphosa, so it makes political sense to coalesce around that power.

“In many ways, despite the fact the ANC remains fractured, Ramaphosa is making significant headway, and that’s particularly important in the run-up to May 2019,” Buccus said.

However, political analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu said although Ramaphosa was warmly received, the reality was that Zuma still enjoyed a lot of support in the province.

“When the president delivered the January 8th Statement at Ohlange, in Inanda, north of Durban, people were chanting Zuma’s name, and even when he ascended to the podium the reception he received was better than the reception Ramaphosa received,” he said.

Protas Madlala, a political analyst in KZN, said Ramaphosa had been able to partially subdue Zuma’s faction in the province.

This was due to several behind-the-scenes negotiations.

Sunday Independent