December 16 - Outging ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete gets proceedings underway at Nasrec. Photo: ANA/Getrude Makhafola

In The News South Africa

Mbete endorses Ramaphosa for ANC president

JOHANNESBURG, December 17 – African National Congress (ANC) national chairperson Baleka Mbete on Saturday, said she endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over from President Jacob Zuma at the helm of South Africa’s ruling party.
“What we are announcing is that we publicly endorse comrade Cyril Ramaphosa. That we have been talking and we agree on how to approach the issues of maximising unity in the organisation, in particular moving towards [the national general elections in] 2019,” she said speaking to journalists in Nasrec, Johannesburg on the sidelines of the ANC’s 54th national conference.
“Because it would be wrong for us to have a limited approach to what we have come to do here. The major part of what we have come to do is to look at how we mobilise South Africans, how we organise reorganise ourselves such that we can deliver better to them and in fact we ensure a victory at the 2019 elections.”
In the interview aired on the South African Broadcasting Corportation (SABC), Mbete said that it was important to not just look at current circumstances but to also consider the future, because the ANC has a “broader responsibility” to the people.
This year’s conference has drawn widespread interest after seven ANC leaders indicated they would contest for the party’s highest job. Mbete was one of the seven — along with Ramaphosa, treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, their fellow national executive members Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Lindiwe Sisulu, Jeff Radebe, and Matthews Phosa — vying for the position of the party’s president.
Two main slates have emerged from the campaigning — that of Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa
Asked on Saturday night why Ramaphosa and not Dlamini-Zuma, Mbete said: “Because we have worked together for a long time and in how we have discussed the issues that are faced and the challenges that are faced by the movement and South Africa, we have agreed a whole lot more”.
She admitted that there was never an opportunity for her to sit down with Dlamini-Zuma and have a detailed discussion.
“In fact, there was never an opportunity really for that.”
Mbete also said that she was “not afraid” of possible criticism for her decision to back Ramaphosa and not a woman for the top job. She said that every candidate was there as an individual and said she was certain that they would all work together.
Asked on Ramaphosa’s chances, Mbete said it “does look positive” and said she thought that “unity was paramount” at the conference.
“Therefore, part of what this is is about giving meaning to unity so that we don’t talk unity that has no meaning. But we talk unity that is practically going to give us something more tangible.”
The delegates are expected to vote for their preferred top six leaders and national executive committee (NEC) members. The conference will also examine and come up with new policies ahead of the 2019 general elections.
On Saturday, the ANC postponed the contentious issue of credentials to Sunday amidst a NEC decision to bar some delegates from voting at its national conference.
The conference was delayed for at least eight hours as the ANC NEC held an impromptu meeting to iron out the contentious court judgments.
The NEC decided to exclude KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, and North West’s Bojanala district from voting at the conference. The leadership of these regions have had to contend with court challenges brought by disgruntled members.
With court cases challenging the legitimacy of some of the provincial and regional conference, the threat of disputes over credentials were expected at the hotly contested conference.
This follows a messy two-day registration process for delegates at Soweto’s University of Johannesburg campus. Registrations were only completed after 2pm on Saturday.
The second day of the conference will commence with a business breakfast session. Delegates are expected to be in the plenary by 9am.
African News Agency (ANA),

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