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Cyril Ramaphosa gets ANC Eastern Cape endorsement, but questions remain

Oct 17, 2017
Cyril Ramaphosa gets ANC Eastern Cape endorsement, but questions remain

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's bid to be the next African National Congress (ANC) President, and ultimately South African President, got a boost when the ANC in the Eastern Cape on Monday endorsed him as its preferred candidate to succeed President Jacob Zuma at the party's national elective conference in December.

For many observers, the news comes not as a surprise as newly-elected ANC Chairperson, Oscar Mabuyane, while addressing the media after his election said that while the new Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) was to still discuss the matter, they were in support of the long-held tradition that the Deputy must always succeed his boss.

Still, Mabuyane was reportedly in Ramaphosa's camp ahead of the crucial Provincial 8th Elective Conference that was held at the end of September in East London. 

That conference was not without incident as it suffered from delays as well as violence that saw around eight delegates in hospital.

In the end, Mabuyane emerged as the new ANC Eastern Cape Provincial Chairperson after beating Eastern Cape Premier, Phumulo Masualle, by 935 votes to Masualle's 7.

The contest between Masualle and Mabuyane was widely seen as part of the national contest for Zuma's successor between Ramaphosa, and President Zuma's preferred candidate, who is also his ex-wife, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

While Mabuyane is in Ramaphosa's camp, Masualle is reportedly in the Dlamnini-Zuma camp.

The Eastern Cape will now be sending the third biggest provincial delegation to the ANC's National Elective Conference after being overtaken by Mpumalanga. KwaZulu-Natal, wich is behind Dlamini-Zuma is the ANC's biggest province by numbers.

Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma are widely seen as the top contenders in the race to succeed Zuma.

However, ANC treasurer-general, Zweli Mkhize, who was in the Nelson Mandela Bay last week; former ANC treasurer-general, Mathews Phosa; Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, and ANC chairperson, Baleka Mbete, are also in the running for the top post.

Questions remain though whether the Eastern Cape is firmly behind Ramaphosa as the newly-elected PEC faces a challenge from a disgruntled section - mostly Masualle supporters, who claim that they were beaten and prevented from voting at the Provincial Elective Conference.

That section already lost a court interdict that they launched soon after the elections, but are understood to be mounting more challenges to the new PEC. So, only time will tell if the Eastern Cape will be speaking with one voice at the December conference.

Ramaphosa has already been endorsed by the Northern Cape following its elective conference in May while Dlamini-Zuma enjoys support from the KZN, the North West, the ANC Women's League and the ANC Youth League.

Still, the leagues themselves are divided over candidates at regional level.