Outgoing ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete says she will officially back Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for the party’s top job.
Mbete told journalists in Nasrec late on Saturday night that she would officially back Ramaphosa’s candidacy as the best long-term prospect for the party and country.
“It’s no big deal really. It’s the continuation of finalising the process on leadership,” she said.
“We publicly endorse comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, and we agree on how to maximise issues of unity in the organisation.
“It would be wrong to be limited on what we came to do here.”
When asked what she made of Ramaphosa’s chances, she said it looked “positive”.
She said she had not had the time to sit down with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to discuss the various issues.
Ramaphosa’s campaign, though, had a more appealing, broader outlook for the future.
The ANC suspended the adaptation of credentials for its 54th elective conference late on Saturday night.
The media were informed at 22:45 that the adaptation of credentials had been suspended and that plenary would resume at 09:00 on Sunday.
Outgoing chairperson Baleka Mbete said they “were still cleaning up” the credentials.
The credentials process was due to take place after President Jacob Zuma’s address to congress.
The conference was already delayed by several hours, as delegates were being registered at the University of Johannesburg on Saturday morning, and there was a special NEC meeting to deal with the court judgments from the day before.
After Zuma’s speech, Mbete announced a change to the programme and said the credentials would follow messages of support.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Sihle Zikalala challenged this decision.
“We cannot afford to run the conference without a programme!” said Zikalala.
Outgoing deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte responded that the credentials were not ready and asked the conference to allow for the continuation of the programme.
“You know, sometimes things are not in our hands, and the comrades are working with the credentials, some provincial secretaries, and so on, will be here shortly, they are discussing, they are meeting.”
She asked for the conference’s patience.
This was shortly before 19:00.
The conference then broke up for dinner and returned at approximately 21:00 to listen to further messages of support. It was expected that the conference would then continue with the credentials process, even if it meant working through the night.
Shortly after 23:00, Mbete said: “I think the reason we’ve adjourned [is]… so that we can have more time to listen to people who have issues.”
(Photo credit: Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Masi Losi)