The top six comrades and the generational mix

For the presidential contest, only President Cyril Ramaphosa and former Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize qualified, says the writer. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

For the presidential contest, only President Cyril Ramaphosa and former Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize qualified, says the writer. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Dec 10, 2022


The 2022 ANC’s 55th elective conference has gained momentum. Several developments have made the conference mood more interesting than previous ones. A few unprecedented developments have occurred.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was hit with the 2020 Phala Phala scandal, which had been kept under wraps. He is accused of keeping large sums of US Dollars on his farm in Limpopo. The crime was neither reported to the police nor was the money disclosed to the South African Revenue Service.

Ramaphosa is accused of having illegally apprehended the culprits, had them tortured and bribed them to keep quiet. This issue remained concealed. It was Arthur Fraser, the former spy boss, who spilt the beans. His revelation triggered the African Transformation Movement (ATM) to lay a formal complaint against Ramaphosa with the Speaker of the National Assembly. The request was accepted on a second attempt.

Subsequently, a Section 89 panel, which was led by retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, was appointed to look into the matter. This decision was informed by a previous Constitutional Court ruling that such a panel would be necessary before Section 89 is invoked.

The panel executed its mandate diligently and handed its report to the Speaker. The release of this report, which had serious findings and recommendations, caused hysteria. It triggered the President to announce that he was going to address the nation. Everyone looked forward to the address – with speculation that Ramaphosa would resign. This never happened.

The last-minute postponement of Ramaphosa’s address, the postponement of the Special ANC National Executive Committee meeting scheduled to sit on the same day, and its abrupt adjournment, barely after it had started, makes the 2022 ANC conference one full of unprecedented drama.

Against this backdrop, a few things are worth noting. When Kgalema Motlanthe announced the list of candidates for the Top Six positions, there were glaring absences. One such name was that of Deputy President David Mabuza. Failure by both Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Lindiwe Sisulu, who contested the 2017 election, to make it into this list raised eyebrows. Their last hope is to be nominated from the floor and meet the 25% threshold.

Now, let us focus on the candidates who won the nominations. For the presidential contest, only Ramaphosa and former Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize qualified. Ramaphosa received 2037 nominations while Dr Mkhize managed 916. The other hopefuls did not make it. Sisulu complained that there were miscalculations which resulted in her being left out of the race.

Candidates for the deputy president position were led by Paul Mashatile with 1,791 votes, followed by Ronald Lamola with 427 votes and then Oscar Mabuyane, who is the current Premier of the Eastern Cape, with a mere 397 votes.

For the national chairperson position, contenders are Limpopo’s Premier, Stanley Mathabatha, with 1,492 votes, followed by the current chairperson Gwede Mantashe with 979 votes and David Masondo, with 501 votes.

For the Secretary-General’s position, the three contenders are: Mdumiseni Ntuli with 1,225 votes, Phumulo Masualle with 889 votes and Fikile Mbalula with 749 votes.

The deputy secretary-general position is being contested by two women: Nomvula Mokonyane with 1,779 votes and Febe Potgieter with 905 votes.

Lastly, for the Treasurer-General position, there are three contenders: Benjani Chauke with 552 votes, Pule Mabe with 428 votes and Mzwandile Masina, who managed 348 votes.

Two things are worth noting. The list does not speak to the ANC’s gender equity epitomised by the 50/50 gender representation goal. It is only the deputy secretary general position that is being contested by women. Therefore, like with the outgoing administration, which only had the late Jessie Duarte as a woman, the same will happen with the incoming administration. This is an indictment of both men and women in the ANC!

Secondly, the party has failed to ensure that there is a generational mix. The two presidential candidates are not young anymore. Ramaphosa is 70 years old. Mkhize is 66 years old. The ages of those contesting for the deputy presidency show that only Lamola, at 39, is young.

The ages of those running for the national chairperson position range from 48 to 67. For the position of secretary general, contenders are in their 50s. The two women vying for the position of deputy secretary general are in their late 50s. The three contestants for the treasurer general position (Chauke, Mabe and Masina) are in their middle ages.

The youth is equally to blame for this since they participate in the nomination process. Having the numbers, why can’t they support one another? Neither the ANC nor the ANC Youth League (when it still existed) wants the youth to replace elders. All they want is a generational mix. This would mean that when elders retire, the youth would take the baton. With the leagues disbanded, will the ANC ever correct this situation?

* Bheki Mngomezulu is Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of the Western Cape.

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or IOL.