Ramaphosa and Mkhize in ‘neck-and-neck battle’ for ANC’s top job – NEC insider

Mkhize and Ramaphosa on each other's necks


By Chris Makhaye

The contest for the ANC’s top job between President Cyril Ramaphosa and former health minister Zweli Mkhize will be ‘neck and neck’, says Dakota Legoete, an ANC National Executive Committee member and deputy head of organising in the ANC.

Dakota Legoete, an ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) member and the party’s deputy head of organising, says the position of ANC president is going to be hotly contested during the party’s four-day elective conference, which is currently under way at Nasrec in Johannesburg.

The ANC’s 55th conference, which started on Friday, 16 December, has been marked by delays and technical glitches.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa and former health minister Zweli Mkhize are “neck and neck” in the race for party president, Legoete said, adding that the other four positions in the ANC’s Top Six would also be tightly contested.

“I can tell you here that this conference is neck and neck. Every lobby group will tell you that they are winning. But from where I am, I can say that it is not easy to tell who is going to win. The lobbying groups are meeting behind the scenes and this will happen until delegates vote,” he said.

ANC NEC member Dakota Legoete speaks to Daily Maverick journalist Chris Makhaye outside one of the delegates accreditation areas in Johannesburg, South Africa, 17 December 2022. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

He said people should refrain from thinking that the conference will follow the trends set when the ANC branches nominated leaders for the top positions in the party.

In the branch nomination results released by the ANC election committee in November, Ramaphosa had 2,037 branches behind him, more than twice the number than Mkhize at 916.

“Do not be misled by the numbers [from the branch nominations],” Legoete said. “Lobbyists are meeting behind the scenes. In the conference, ANC members are allowed to lobby each other and agree on certain candidates. This thing [leadership contest] is not over until the proverbial fat lady sings.”

Legoete is considered to be very close to suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule. He attended the court cases in which Magashule faces charges in connection with the multimillion-rand Free State government tender to remove asbestos from poor people’s homes.

Legoete said both candidates for the top ANC job had been linked to scandals going into the conference. “But now the horse has bolted and we could not disqualify any candidates because that would have had the effect of collapsing the conference.” 

A number of Mkhize’s lobbyists also maintain that several key regions and provinces have promised that Mkhize would get their vote, but they would not openly support his campaign “for fear of losing jobs or being prosecuted by the law-enforcement agencies”.

Ramaphosa is ‘last line of defence’

Derek Hanekom, an outgoing NEC member (he has declined nomination) and a leading figure in the CR22 election campaign, rubbished claims that Mkhize was closing the gap on Ramaphosa.

“I don’t agree with those who say they will win this conference. Of course, the President has got numbers on his side. I base this on the lot of research that [we have] done … conversations we have had with provincial coordinators, with elected provincial leaders.

“We know what the delegates and what their sentiments are in this conference … You can see it inside the halls. We’ve seen it through nominations. You cannot even compare the [number of] nominations [received by the President] with the other nominations.”   

Former MP Derek Hanekom in the media area of the Nasrec Expo Centre during the ANC’s 55th national conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 16 December 2022. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Hanekom said after the release of the Section 89 panel report into the Phala Phala scandal, Ramaphosa had received more support from South Africans and ordinary ANC members as they believe he is the last line of defence between good governance and South Africa falling into the hands of those who will allow the country to become a failed state.

“There is overwhelming support for the President and if people want to live with the illusion or belief that they are going to win, it’s fine,” he said.

Hanekom said he believed the incoming NEC should institute disciplinary action against former president Jacob Zuma for many digressions and bringing the party into disrepute.

He said Zuma’s latest transgression was walking in and disrupting Ramaphosa as he was delivering the political report at the 55th national conference.

–Daily Maverick

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