SOUTH Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa is the preferred candidate to succeed president Jacob Zuma within the country’s powerful Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu).
Although official nominations will only be opened in September 2017, the campaign on who should become the next African National Congress (ANC) president, and by the same virtue head of state, is becoming increasingly fractious within the ruling party and its support base in trade unions.
Yesterday Cosatu came out strongly in favour of Ramaphosa after the ANC opened the succession debate following its three-day national executive committee meeting.
Cosatu deputy president Tyotyo James told delegates at the conference that they are making the pronouncement on the ANC’s succession battle because the trade unions want to save the ruling party from self-destruction.
“Cosatu must not be condemned for its choice of who should be the president of the ANC, we are not confused. We want the current deputy president to be the president of the ANC. That is clear.” said Tyotyo.
Furthermore, Tyotyo said: “We must not be condemned when we say that because others are making pronouncement as they are not condemned. We want Cyril Ramaphosa as the president.”
President Zuma himself has endorsed the former African Union Commission chairperson and ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to takeover when his term comes to an end in December.
The ANC Women’s League has also endorsed Dlamini-Zuma.
The showdown in the succession comes weeks after Cosatu banned president Zuma from addressing any of its gatherings.
Speaking at a press conference held by the ANC on Monday afternoon, secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the succession debates will be closely monitored to ensure that potential candidates are not ridiculed or defamed.
“The NEC agreed that we should continue discussing the principle that should guide election of leadership in the ANC but allow the structures of the ANC to start discussing the names. Such discussions should be based on the principles discussed and through the eye of the needle. Nominations will only be opened in September 2017,” Mantashe said
The latest poll among ANC voters shows that 62% of the party’s supporters disapprove of President Jacob Zuma while only 18% support him. In December 2016 Zuma was enjoying an approval rating of 54% within the ANC structures.
Meanwhile, a source within the ANC said president Zuma’s position has been further weakened by a series of damning e-mails which show that the Guptas are running South Africa.
“There is no denying that the email are the smoking gun which indicate the extent to which the Guptas have control over the appointment of cabinet ministers and CEO’s of parastatals,” the source said. “The role played by Zuma’s son, Duduzane, who is also a business associate of the Guptas, in presidential matters, is a case in point.”
Blade Nzimande, the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party has also lashed out at the controversial Gupta family‚ saying that they are a threat to the ANC and the country.
“The most immediate threats facing our liberation are the parasitic networks that have a say in the state and our economy‚ at the centre of which is the Gupta family‚ which is working with some of the most senior comrades in our movement and the state‚” said Nzimande.
Nzimande‚ who is also the minister of higher education‚ was widely applauded when he said: “We say no to Guptarisation of our economy and the state or any other form of capture. Down with state capture‚ down. We speak the truth and we are not greedy for positions‚ so we will serve the people of the country as per our mandate.”
The Gupta brothers Ajay, Atul and Tony, have been widely accused of being key players in the intricate web of state capture through their connection to president Zuma’s family.
However, Zuma has denied that there was any substance to allegations that he was planning to acquire residency in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates with the help of the Guptas, saying his only home was in Nkandla.