The battle for the African National Congress (ANC) leadership is heating up ahead of the governing party’s elective conference in December.

With Limpopo having backed President Cyril Ramaphosa for a second term, several names have been suggested for some top six officials’ positions.

ANC MP Boy Mamabolo has ambitions to run for the position of ANC deputy president, while some members want NEC Member and Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to take over from David Mabuza as deputy president of the party.

Speculation is also rife that the party’s leader in Limpopo, Stan Mathabatha, is also vying for the party’s Chairmanship.

Horse-trading 

Although the ANC succession debate hasn’t been opened, already the political horse-trading has begun and some have raised their hands. The ANC in Limpopo has nailed its colours to the mast, supporting another term for party president Cyril Ramaphosa as Provincial Chair Stan Mathabatha explains.

“We are going to campaign for Cyril Ramaphosa. We have not started campaigning,” says Stan Mathabatha. And for his part, Mathabatha is said to be vying for the position of the party’s chairmanship.

Again several names have been touted as possible candidates for some positions in the top six. They include among others Ronald Lamola and Boy Mamabolo.

KwaZulu-Natal is also wishing to have its representation among the party’s top brass with its Provincial Secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli and Chairperson Sihle Zikalala seen as potential candidates. Some party members also want the suspended party Secretary General Ace Magashule to throw his hat into the ring, while NEC Member Lindiwe Sisulu’s name has also been bandied around.

Political Analyst, Dr Ralph Mathekga says it’s not the tradition for party members to campaign before the succession debate is officially opened and the mentioned candidates are just keeping it to themselves in line with the party’s policy on succession.

Deputy president up for the taking?

But the position of the ANC second-in-command is the one that is mainly up for the taking. So far Lamola, Mamabolo and one party member from the Eastern Cape who doesn’t want to go public are either backed for the position or seem interested.

But another Political Analyst, Levy Ndou from the Tshwane University of Technology, says a leadership contest between Lamola and the current ANC deputy, David Mabuza, has the potential to divide Mpumalanga.

Ndou says there is a high likelihood for yet another largely contested African National Congress (ANC) national elective conference in December this year.

Ndou says, “2022 will see a lot of contestations of position within the ANC. And of course, there are possible contenders, the current president Ramaphosa and it would not be a surprise to see Lindiwe Sisulu and Ace Magashule as contenders. There have always been indications, now that we’re getting from the media that indeed there is a possibility for Lindiwe Sisulu to contest for the presidency of the ANC. Of course, she seems to be having support from other structures of the ANC even though it has not openly disclosed.”

Cyril Ramaphosa

The Limpopo and Eastern Cape Provinces within the ANC have said they intend to back the incumbent Cyril Ramaphosa for a second term. Things began showing that the ANC’s leadership race is on during the 110th birthday celebrations in Limpopo. Several regions in Limpopo, visited by party president Cyril Ramaphosa have endorsed him for the second term.

However, while asked by the SABC in Polokwane, ANC president Cyril Ramphosa would not comment on whether or not he’s keen on the second term – but said all he’s focusing on right now is to unify and renew the ANC.

Lindiwe Sisulu

Recently, Lindiwe Sisulu, ANC NEC member has come out to show her ambitions to contest Cyril Ramaphosa at the 55th national elective conference of the ANC in December. And it would seem she’s getting full backup support from the so-called RET forces, including Tony Yengeni, who took to social media in support for Sisulu.

But is this not a little premature, seeing that the ANC is yet to have Regional and Provincial elective conferences – way ahead of the 55th national elective conference in December.

It’s going to be a long road to the December ANC elective conference, with the governing party still to hold its National General Council later this year. This is a mid-term review of the implementation of the party’s policies and resolutions since its last conference. It will be followed by the National Policy Conference which is set to refine party policies ahead of their adoption at the elective conference.

And for now, no one is commenting on his or her availability for any position – at least until the succession debate is opened. -Additional reporting by Abongile Dumako