Picture: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK – Only President Cyril Ramaphosa (with 2037 nominations) and former Health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, (with 916made into the list of candidates to contest the election.
By Bheki Mngomezulu
As the 2022 ANC’s 55th elective conference, scheduled to take place at Nasrec in Johannesburg from December 16 to 20 gains momentum, a couple of things are happening, which make the conference mood even more interesting than the previous ones – including the 54th conference, which was also held in Nasrec in December 2017.
With this year’s conference, there have been a number of unprecedented developments that have taken place and which are worth noting at this juncture. The incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa was hit by a scandal which happened in 2020 and was kept under the rug. He was said to have kept large sums of money in his farm in foreign currency (US Dollars). The crime was not reported to the police as should be the case. The money was said to have not been disclosed at SARS. The fact that such money was kept in the house and not at the bank raised eyebrows.
Importantly, the President was accused of having illegally apprehended the culprits, had them tortured and bribed them not to spill the beans. This issue remained unknown to both the public and law enforcement agencies. It was as a result of these allegations that the President was accused of wrongdoing and that he had to face the music and answer to these allegations.
It was Artur Fraser, the former spy boss, who spilt the beans and divulged the secret about the theft of millions of US dollars which were said to have been secretly stashed in the furniture at one of the President’s farms in Limpopo called Phala Phala Farm. This revelation triggered one of the political parties in the South African legislature, the African Transformation Movement (ATM) to lay a formal complaint against the President with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Maphisa-Nqakula. The request to investigate the President was only acceded to by the Speaker in the ATM’s second attempt. This was after the party had responded to all the concerns initially raised by the Speaker.
It was this step that led to the appointment of a Section 89 panel to look into the matter and to advise Parliament if there were grounds to invoke Section 89 of the Constitution regarding the impeachment process of the President. The panel was led by retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo.
Such a decision was informed by the ruling once made by the Constitutional Court that such a panel would be necessary before Section 89 is invoked.
Indeed, the panel executed its mandate diligently and prepared its report which was to be handed to the Speaker of the National Assembly. The release of the Section 89 panel report which had serious findings and recommendations, set the country on a new path. Soon after its release, the news emerged saying that the President was going to address the nation. The entire nation looked forward to such an address. There were speculations that the President would announce his resignation as the Head of State. This never happened on the promised day of Thursday 1 December 2022.
The last-minute postponement of President Ramaphosa’s address to the nation as well as the postponement of the Special ANC NEC meeting which was scheduled to sit on the same day of Thursday 1 December 2022 and its abrupt adjournment on Friday 2 December 2022 barely after it had started, all make the 2022 ANC conference one full of drama and excitement when compared to previous conferences.
Against this backdrop, a few things are worth noting with regards to the upcoming ANC conference in December.
Firstly, when Kgalema Motlanthe announced the list of candidates for the top six positions in his capacity as the Head of Elections in the ANC, there were glaring absences from that list. One such absence was the name of Deputy President David Mabuza. Failure by both Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Lindiwe Sisulu to make it to the list as they had done in 2017, raised eyebrows. This meant that the only way they could still make it into the ballot paper would be if they were nominated from the floor at the conference. But such a nomination would still have to be supported by twenty-five percent of the delegates.
The discussion will now switch to the actual candidates who won the nominations and thus made it into the list of candidates to contest any of the various six positions that will be up for grab at the December conference.
For the presidential contest, only the incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa and former Health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, made into the list of candidates to contest the election.
Ramaphosa received 2037 nominations while Dr Mkhize only managed 916. As mentioned earlier, other presidential hopefuls such as Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Lindiwe Sisulu did not make it into the list. Sisulu complained that there were miscalculations which resulted in her being left out of the presidential race. The candidates that were confirmed are discussed below.
Candidates for the deputy president position were led by Paul Mashatile with 1,791 votes, followed by Ronald Lamula with 427 votes and then Oscar Mabuyane, who is the current Premier of the Eastern Cape, with a mere 397 votes.
The position of the national chairperson of the ANC is being contested by Limpopo’s Premier, Stanley Mathabatha with 1,492 votes, followed by the current chairperson Gwede Mantashe with 979 votes and then David Masondo with 501 votes.
For the secretary general position, the three contenders are: Mdumiseni Ntuli with 1,225 votes, Phumulo Masuale with 889 votes and Fikile Mbalula with 749 votes.
The deputy secretary general position is being contested by two women. These are: Nomvula Mokonyane with 1,779 votes and Febe Potgieter with 905 votes.
Lastly, for the Treasurer General position, there are three contenders. These are: Benjani Chauke with 552 votes, Pule Mabe with 428 votes and Mzwandile Masina who managed 348 votes.
Two things are worth noting in these lists. The first one is that the list is a direct contrast to what the ANC has been saying over the years regarding gender equity epitomised by the 50/50 gender representation goal. It is only the deputy secretary general position that is being contested by women. The rest are all men. This means that like with the out-going administration, which only had the late Jessie Duarte as a woman holding the deputy secretary general position, the same will also be the case with the incoming administration.
This is an indictment on both men and women in the ANC!
The second observation in this list is the party’s failure to ensure that there is a generational mix. The two presidential candidates are not young anymore. Ramaphosa is 70 years old. Dr Mkhize is 66 years old.
The ages of those who will be standing for the deputy president position ranges from 39 for Lamula, 48 for Mabuyane and 61 years for Mashatile. While Mabuyane is relatively young, it is only Lamula who is actually young from this list.
The ages of those running for the national chairperson position range from 48 for David Masondo, 65 for Mathabatha, and 67 for Mantashe.
For the position of secretary general, although the ages of both Ntuli and Masualle are not readily available, it is known that Mbalula is 51 years old. This is a relatively young age compared to many of the candidates.
The two women vying for the position of deputy secretary general are in their late 50s. For example, Mokonyane is 59 years old.
The three contestants for the treasurer general position (Chauke, Mabe and Masina) are in their middle ages. This is an indictment on the entire organisation (the ANC). During the nomination process, the youth participates in that process. If it is true that the youth constitutes the majority of people in South Africa, logic dictates that there should be more of them in political parties such as the ANC.
If that is the case, why can’t they support one another?
Neither the ANC as an organisation nor the ANC Youth League (when it existed before its work was taken over by the Task Team) wants the youth to replace elder members of the party. All that they want is a generational mix. This would mean that when elder members retire, the youth would be able to take the baton and move forward.
The irony is that as the ANC prepares for its elective conference, its leagues are either in tatters or totally no-existent. For example, the NEC of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) is currently not in existence as a formal structure. The Youth League (ANCYL) is being run by a Task Team. Umkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) was disbanded. So, how does the ANC hope to achieve its “renewal” agenda without its leagues?
This conference is unique!
Bheki Mngomezulu is Professor of Political Science and Deputy Dean of Research at the University of the Western Cape.