from Africa in Transition

The ANC Leadership Table: Who is in the Race?

South African President Jacob Zuma (2nd L) stands behind a statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela outside Parliament in Cape Town, June 17, 2014. (Reuters/Schalk van Zuydam)

May 5, 2017

South African President Jacob Zuma (2nd L) stands behind a statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela outside Parliament in Cape Town, June 17, 2014. (Reuters/Schalk van Zuydam)
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For junkies of South African politics, Ranjeni Munusamy has put together a list of likely candidates for the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) at the upcoming party convention in December. She sees nine primary candidates and five “secondary players.” She discusses each of the candidates in two or three sentences, with a brief on  where their support rests within the party.

Her primary candidates, more or less in order of strength, are:

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  • Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife is the former minister of health, foreign affairs, and chairperson of the African Union Commission;
  • Cyril Ramaphosa, the current deputy president;
  • Baleka Mbete, speaker of the National Assembly;
  • Zweli Mkhize, treasurer of the ANC;
  • Lindiwe Sisulu, minister of human settlements;
  • Jeff Radebe, minister in the presidency and head of ANC policy;
  • Gwede Mantashe, national chairman of the ANC;
  • Matthews Phosa, former premier of Mpumalanga province; and,
  • Tito Mboweni, former governor of the South African Reserve Bank and ally of former President Thabo Mbeki.

The top four would appear to be the strongest candidates, but dark horses are a distinct possibility in December because the ANC is so divided.

Additionally, Munusamy’s provided a list of “secondary players” looking to make moves within ANC party ranks:

  • David Mabuza, current premier of Mpumalanga, he is said to want to be deputy president
  • Elias Sekgobelo “Ace” Magashule, current provincial ANC chairperson and premier of the Free State;
  • Paul Mashatile, current provincial ANC chairperson of Guateng who allegedly wants to be secretary general of the ANC;
  • Senzo Mchunu, former ANC provincial chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal;
  • Nathi Mthethwa, minister of Arts and culture and former ANC Chief Whip in the National Assembly.

Munusamy closes her list with the observation that incumbent Jacob Zuma could technically be re-elected as ANC president; she dubs him the “outside” candidate.

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In my view, Munusamy includes all of the major players in the upcoming party elections, and all will be worth watching. I agree with her observation that the numerous candidates are a healthy phenomenon in that they are opening the political process.

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