The road to the ANC’s 55th elective conference may look like a walk in the park for President Cyril Ramaphosa after the Limpopo endorsement, but will that be the case in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal and Free State, where his political foes, suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule and former president Jacob Zuma come from?
This is the question on many of Ramaphosa supporters’ lips, with 11 months to go to the conference in December. While the ANC has not opened the succession debate, some in the party believe those publicly revealing their political allegiances should not go unpunished.
Last weekend, Limpopo ANC provincial chair and premier Stan Mathabatha publicly endorsed Ramaphosa for a second term. Four regions, Peter Mokaba, Sekhukhune, Waterburg and Vhembe followed suit, declaring their support for his re-election.
Addressing members during the January 8th statement at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, Mathabatha said Limpopo’s support was not because Ramaphosa’s ancestral roots are in the province, but that it was purely political and organisational.
“Branches of the ANC in Limpopo want him to be given a second term in order to continue with his renewal project. We support him because of his commitment to the project of renewal and repositioning the ANC as a movement of the people,” he said.
But most of Ramaphosa’s detractors who spoke to The Citizen said the “walk in the park to election” may turn into a bumpy road for the 69-year-old Soweto businessman and politician.
“You must remember, ANC conferences are usually determined by KZN, Mpumalanga and Free State. The question is, does the president have a smooth sail, even in those provinces?” said Phillip Machubeni, an ANC activist in Murutji, near the Tzaneen.
“The answer may be no, because we know in KZN, the biggest in terms of membership, his known political foe Zuma is still running the show.”
Machubeni said Ramaphosa was also unlikely to get overwhelming support in Magashule’s turf in the Free State.
“In these provinces, the anti-Ramaphosa groupings are slowly but surely working the ground against him and making sure he has no leg to stand on at the conference.”