Ramaphosa wins, but Zuma faction the real victors

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA, NOVEMBER 26, 2017: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the African National Congress (ANC) Tshwane Rally at the TUT Soshanguve Campus on November 26, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. Ramaphosa discussed his ideas for the ANC and added that the party must go back to their old days when Nelson Mandela was president. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Lisa Hnatowicz)

Johannesburg – An “extraordinary paradox” where the candidate lost, but her faction won, has emerged as Cyril Ramaphosa was announced the new president of the ANC, with the rest of the party’s top six consisting of three of President Jacob Zuma’s staunch supporters.

“The premier league, who has been building up to this moment for ten years, has shifted power within the ANC and will see this as a huge win,” political analyst Richard Calland says.

Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza and Free State premier Ace Magashule were elected deputy president and secretary general respectively. Both have been implicated in corruption and state capture, and have been staunch supporters of Zuma. Jessie Duarte, from Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s slate, stays on as deputy secretary general.

“They’ve taken two very important positions in the top six – deputy president and secretary general. While you could see the joy on Ramaphosa’s face with the announcement of his victory, his joy will be tempered somewhat when his inheritance and what he’s going to have to manage politically, sinks in,” Calland says.

The election of the national executive committee (NEC) of the ANC, which will take place in the next day or two, now becomes even more important, as they will have a deciding say in what happens to the party and Zuma.

“Ramaphosa has to get a strong majority with his slate in the NEC, otherwise he becomes very constrained. I think his original strategy was recognising that he might end up with Mabuza, but the hope was that he could isolate him. Now, on the face of it, that’s out of the window. So he will have to invest a huge amount of energy in securing a majority in the NEC. Judging by this result and the evidence of the split that, however, also seems unlikely.

“Important to note, is that the ANC has finally broken from slate politics, because they’ve elected members from both slates for the top six. The winner did not take all.”

“If unity is a balance of forces, this is unity. But unity sometimes requires decisive leadership and if you can’t move decisively as the new leader and you spend all your time managing this delicate political balance, it may not result in the unity you need,” Calland says.

(Photo credit: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Lisa Hnatowicz)