By ZINE GEORGE and ZINGISA MVUMVU
ANC branches in the Eastern Cape have nominated a mixed bag of presidential hopefuls for the highly contested elective ANC national conference in December.
However, the Daily Dispatch can reveal that if the figures of branches which have so far held successful branch general meetings (BGMs) are anything to go by, Cyril Ramaphosa is leading the pack.
This is after 80% of OR Tambo branches in Mthatha – the ANC’s biggest region in the province and second biggest after Ethekwini in the country – chose Ramaphosa as their preferred leader to succeed Jacob Zuma as party president.
There are 594 branches that qualify to take part in the election of the ruling party’s new leaders, and 136 of these are in OR Tambo.
OR Tambo acting regional secretary Mesuli Ngqondwana said only 18 branches in the region had yet to nominate their preferred leaders for the conference.
“I can safely say most branches have nominated Silili [sic],” Ngqondwana said, referring to a code name for Cyril Ramaphosa in rural villages.
“There are so far two nominated candidates for presidency – him [Ramaphosa] and Nkosazana [Dlamini-Zuma]. Of these, NDZ secured only 10 to 16% of the branches so far. There are no other names.”
The Alfred Nzo region, which is also almost done with the nomination process, has seen the names of both Ramaphosa and Zweli Mkhize emerging for the governing party’s top job.
Ramaphosa has come out as the favourite in this region too, but Mkhize also appears well supported, with at least 10% of the nominations in his favour.
Even those branches that nominated Ramaphosa for president want Mkhize to deputise for him.
Only a few branches have nominated Dlamini-Zuma at Alfred Nzo while Mkhize’s message of unity appears to be gaining traction in Buffalo City, where two of the 10 BGMs have nominated him.
These are Buffalo City’s ward 10 and ward 32, which have both said they believed Mkhize was the only person who could unite the ANC.
Ward 10 ANC branch secretary Desmond Davis said: “Our view as a branch is that comrade Mkhize is the unifier who can take the ANC to new heights.”
These branches and their mates in Alfred Nzo, who favour Mkhize for the top job, have all nominated Ramaphosa to stay put in his incumbent post of deputy president “for the sake of unity”, Davis said.
But it is in Sarah Baartman region where Ramaphosa is emerging as the undisputed favourite, as 25 of the region’s 35 branches that have completed BGMs have all thrown their weight behind #CR17.
“It is unlikely that this pattern will change in the remaining 10 that are still going to sit,” Sarah Baartman regional secretary Scara Njadayi predicted.
Nominations in the so-called NDZ strongholds of Amathole, Nelson Mandela Bay and Joe Gqabi regions appear to be going at a snail’s pace, with only 19 branches done with BGMs of a total 197 branches in good standing (see graphic).
The regional secretaries in these regions, Teris Ntutu, Themba Xathula and Mfundo Bongela, were all crying foul, saying they were delayed by “packages” that were not delivered to their regions so that their BGMs could sit.
“Clearly there is an attempt to frustrate us for we are known to support NDZ and you see the same pattern in the regions where comrade Dlamini-Zuma is a favourite,” Bongela said.
He said they had written to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s office to complain about this but were hopeful that all their branches in good standing would be represented at the conference.
Ntutu said they would push for most of the branches to convene BGMs by the end of this week but would ask for an extension as it appeared they would be unable to beat the deadline this Sunday.