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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Hard road ahead for Cyril

You wouldn't bet your house on Ramaphosa becoming the next president.

As structures of the ANC begin to make their positions clear about who they prefer for the ANC presidency and the top party leadership, things are not looking so rosy for the Cyril Ramaphosa campaign.

Provinces that were assumed to be backing the ANC deputy president to succeed Jacob Zuma for the No 1 position are still undecided, or simply divided, about who to support: Ramaphosa or his opponent, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Some say it is still early days to predict whether his high-level backing by fellow party officials, such as secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, among others, will pay dividends.

But it should be worrying to Ramaphosa’s supporters that, even in his home province, Limpopo, things do not look settled.

The provincial executive committee (PEC) in the province is divided between Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma.

ANC provincial chairperson and premier Stanley Mathabatha, his deputy Jerry Ndou and treasurer Danny Msiza are said to be aligned to Ramaphosa’s presidential bid. But secretary Nocks Seabi and his deputy Makoma Makhurupetsa are known Dlamini-Zuma lieutenants.

Makhurupetsa is fighting a two-pronged battle to ensure her hero, Dlamini-Zuma, takes top spot come the December ANC conference. She is not only the candidate’s chief lobbyist in the province but also a member of the ANC Women’s League, which is backing the former African Union Commission chairperson.

Ramaphosa, who hails from Venda, enjoys the support of four of the five ANC regions in Limpopo, while Dlamini-Zuma has an indisputable following in the biggest region, Mopani. However, the Dlamini-Zuma camp is making serious inroads in Limpopo, where this week she campaigned vigorously in Vhembe, Mopani and Polokwane.

Besides, her supporters bagged the party elections when they were elected unopposed in Sekhukhune, which was initially believed to be a secure region for Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa is backed by Cosatu and SACP structures that appear thin at grassroots level.

Meanwhile, the deputy president has little chance in the so-called Premier League-dominated provinces of Free State, Mpumalanga and North West, all solid Dlamini-Zuma regions.

In Mpumalanga, all recent ANC regional elections were taken by the loyalists of Premier David Mabuza, a Zuma supporter. According to an alliance member who preferred to remain anonymous, although Mabuza is a Zuma loyalist, he does not favour Dlamini-Zuma as ANC president.

“He was of the opinion that Dlamini-Zuma would spoil the ANC’s chances of winning the 2019 elections because all of Zuma’s mistakes would be visited upon her,” he said.

The Eastern Cape is divided down the centre between the two candidates. According to sources, Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle is undecided between Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa.

Masualle’s dilemma emanates from the fact that he, a non-factionalist, was backed by Zuma supporters to become ANC chairperson and premier.

However, provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane was firmly behind Ramaphosa, along with dismissed deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and national executive committee member Enoch Godongwana.

The Western Cape is one of the undecided provinces. The party leadership squabbles and the sidelining of provincial chairperson Marius Fransman has rendered the province directionless. The ANC Khayelitsha branch recently nominated Mathews Phosa as a presidential candidate.

In the Northern Cape, Ramaphosa supporters led by newly elected chairperson Zamani Saul had taken over the provincial leadership from Dlamini-Zuma’s followers, who were represented by Premier Sylvia Lucas. The Ramaphosa supporters even forced Lucas to reverse her unpopular Cabinet reshuffle.

Dlamini-Zuma’s KwaZulu-Natal home remains her safe heaven.

But with the support of marginalised ANC leaders such as former premier Senzo Mchunu and former MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, the Ramaphosa campaign in the province is not lost.

Gauteng is known for its anti-Zuma stance but is also undecided, as witnessed in Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s support for David Makhura to take over from Mantashe as party secretary-general. – ericn@citizen.co.za

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