Minister Jeff Radebe. Picture: GCIS

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Jeff Radebe’s campaign for high office buried before it started!

The race to Gauteng ANC 2017, confirms more than the usual contenders. I am on record for having drawn a distinction between the contenders and the pretenders. Contenders in this prism suggest those who are serious candidates for number one spot. Pretenders are those who tell us they will contest for number one spot but simply do not register the wherewithal for such.


Jeff Radebe has confirmed that he was willing to be deployed wherever the ANC so chooses even number one spot. It is here that I wish to postulate Radebe is not in any race for number one spot, but at best is aiming for a number two-spot depending who teams up with.


It is perhaps important to take a look at Radebe as candidate albeit as ‘contender’ or ‘pretender.’ Born in Cato Manor and later his family was forcefully removed to Kwa-Mashu; Radebe is a member of the SACP he holds a LLM from Leipzig University. The ex-Robben Islander who was part of a 12-day successful hunger strike was released after having served four years of a ten year sentence.


What works for Radebe?


Jeff Thamsanqa Radebe is the longest serving member of cabinet, he has been around since 1994 and served an executive position from the days of Nelson Mandela; he survived the Mbeki era of leadership and is still part of the Zuma administration in its second term. The Zuma administration is arguably the one with the most cabinet reshuffles, yet Radebe survived and he is still serving in cabinet.


At organisational level he remains the face of ANC policy and usually articulate these as chairperson of the ANC policy unit. Somewhere in June 2017, he was nominated by the ANC Midvaal region to become the next ANC leader. Radebe was addressing party members in his delivering of the OR Tambo lecture. The Midvaal region Leader Tefo Molakeng defined Radebe as a selfless leader.


Radebe’s pragmatic response to this nomination, “what I am saying is let’s wait until the structures of the ANC do the right thing. Right now people are talking about names, but he actual process of nominating will start in September. But I have never refused to be deployed by the members of the ANC since I joined this organisation.


There is no position that is big and small for me. What is important is to contribute towards the attaining of a better life for the people of South Africa. He went on to say” the history from 1994 is very clear. I’ve been in this government since 1994; whatever I’ve been called to do something in government I do it in the best of my abilities, from public works up until now. So I think I have stood up to scrutiny. I’ve never wavered when decisions had to be taken in the interest of the people”


This morning ANN7 carried a report that Radebe is back in the race he is on record to have said the ANC needs a skilled cadre like himself for a paradigm shift. He however warned that party must rid itself from the dirty tricks that now characterized.


What is Radebe’s message?


  • Messaging in an election presidential contest campaign makes u a crucial aspect of running a campaign. He is on record to have said “I have the political background and experience in government. Paradigm shift in the ANC is necessary.”


He argues, “The ANC needs to work on its self-development.” So far Radebe’s campaign message of paradigm shift and AMC self – development registers a monotone, muffled and not clearly understood message. Radebe warrants redefining his message in simplistic easily understood sense.

What is Radebe’s Theme?


  • As in the case of Radebe’s message it is difficult to understand or decipher Radebe’s theme. He is on record to talk about a paradigm shift. He has not yet explained what the current paradigm is and what it needs to shift to evidence a justified paradigm shift. The case of paradigm shift can adopt many facets across a plethora of spheres, yet we may not assume we know what Radebe means with is claim of paradigm shift.


We must afford him to explain what he means with a paradigm shift. One would think the ANC at policy level has already made that paradigm shift when it adopted radical economic transformation and land as the core policy matters. Radebe in sink with the others with exception of Dlamini- Zuma are not having their campaigns anchored in ANC policy.


Radebe’s heralded choice to own up to his indiscretions


On May 22, 2017 a story broke on Radebe’s involvement in a sex scandal with a younger lady. The Sunday Times broke the story and spared us not the graphics of the details of the hot exchanges. Radebe’s personal communications were laid bare for all to read and comment. Fast forward to end of August 2017; another political sex scandal broke thus time with Ramaphosa as the epicentre.


Radebe unlike Ramaphosa who until now has not answered the questions and instead dispatched his campaign manager Benjane Chauke to met with the Sunday Independent editor Motale to ascertain what the details were for the claims. As if that was not enough Ramaphosa released two bereft of relevant content press statements in a 24 hours period.


He also contacted the shareholder of INL Dr. Iqbal Surve begging not to have the story carried in the Sunday Independent. Ramaphosa in typical victimhood mind-set belaboured his emails as hacked by among others intelligence sources. If Ramaphosa could have just taken a leaf out of his brother-in-law’s book who when the story broke confessed and apologised. If Radebe must be respected he is to be respected for being this honest and forthcoming when Ramaphosa is dancing around the issues he warrant answering.


One must commend Radebe for not then taking refuge in claims of smear and dirty tricks campaigns led by among others intelligence sources. He simply fell on his sword and owned up to the flaws and errors of judgement that resulted in him being caught out. There is something about a person who admits and throws him/herself on the mercy of Mzansi. Radebe did exactly that and thus killed the story because South Africans tend to be forgiving. SA will remember Radebe as the one that confessed and apologised.

What makes for the weakness of Radebe’s Campaign?


  • Radebe’s campaign registers a non-starter in many ways. His attempt of restraint before the official September nominations period is pragmatic yet that pragmatism does not automatically translates into delivering a vote to the highest office of ANC leadership. Radebe according to him is vying for the top spot, we just not sure where his wings are that will make him fly till there because he needs wings.
  • Radebe lacks the outright support of the respective leagues, the ANCWL, ANCYL and Veterans League have all made known who they support for the race, that being Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. His support in the provinces sus not yet tested and therefore we cannot afford him a candidacy as yet.


  • His campaign lacks a clear constituency that can be associated with him. He hails from KZN an interesting province particularly for its manifold jolts of claims of who really controls it. On a day that Senzo Mchunu’s faction celebrates their court victory the province as a region attests more challenges as we make our way to Gauteng December 2017. KZN remains a cesspool of opinions on who is the confirmed entrusted candidate for December 2017. At best it would be a case of Radebe claiming a percentage less than Dlamini Zuma, Ramaphosa, Mkhize and Sisulu if at all a percentage claim.
  • Radebe cannot hope to summit the ANC high office without a significant team member. We already know the front-runners for the high office Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa have thus far not approached him to be a running mate, and that likelihood is ailing reality.
  • In a hypothetical sense if he were to be running mate for NDZ, he would have to hurdle another challenge the one of tribalism, more and more a reality if the utterances of some in the Limpopo Province is anything to go by.
  • He cannot claim to become Ramaphosa’s teammate because Ramaphosa needs a female running mate.


It is then not unfair to conclude maybe Radebe’s campaign was dead before it started, since it never really got of the ground. It appears his campaign suffered serious haemorrhage when the scandal broke and he possibly was subjected to a smear and dirty tricks campaign that derailed him.


The more one looks at the singular campaigns or candidacies of Radebe, Phosa, Mkhize and Mbete, the more the words of the Secretary General Mantashe who reminded us the ANC last had so many candidates for high office, in 1952 when Luthuli was elected.
If I understood the Mantashe correctly he expressed a desire that by the time the official nominations open many of those who lifted their hands would have sobered up to the bigger reality of their non candidacy in this race.


In the end Radebe is no serious contender for high office, and his race to number two spot is strewn with landmines he may not be able to navigate given the realities of what the ANC 2017 Elections demand.


Political commentator Clyde Ramalaine. PICTURE: Supplied

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