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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

RET forces could collaborate to let Mkhize challenge Ramaphosa’s presidency

Unless they combined forces, RET's Mkhize, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Lindiwe Sisulu were facing a clear defeat by Ramaphosa.

The three radical economic transformation faction (RET) presidential candidates could join forces to let only Zweli Mkhize challenge President Cyril Ramaphosa in a toe-to-toe contest at the ANC’s elective conference next month.

Dr Ntsikelelo Breakfast, from Nelson Mandela University‘s department of history and politics, said unless they combined forces, RET’s Mkhize, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Lindiwe Sisulu were facing a clear defeat by Ramaphosa.

Analyst unpacks

It was impossible for Ramaphosa and Sisulu to come together as running mates after she alienated herself from the president’s supporters with her recent public utterances against him.

The analyst predicted a possible strategic merger between Mkhize, Dlamini-Zuma and Sisulu, with the former minister of health as the main candidate for the RET faction.

RET has been divided over the three, but Mkhize appears to be favoured over the two women.

“With RET, there is no uniformity. They have different candidates. But that gap could be closed at the 11th hour, close to the national conference,” Breakfast said.

Ramaphosa camp is united behind

He believes the Ramaphosa camp is united behind him, with the majority of provinces pronouncing publicly they would be giving him a second term in office.

The expert was adamant that a combination of Ramaphosa and Sisulu would not work this time around, as had almost happened at Nasrec in 2017, when Ramaphosa chose her as his deputy, before changing his mind and going for David Mabuza.

Even if Ramaphosa would have liked to select Sisulu as his running mate, it wouldn’t be accepted by his supporters.

Ramaphosa and Sisulu duo is out of the question

“Unity between Ramaphosa and Sisulu is out of question because she has positioned herself as Ramaphosa’s opponent,” Breakfast said. “She has been pulling all the punches against Cyril, especially on Phala Phala, and undermined his political standing in the party.”

NOW READ: Sisulu challenging Ramaphosa more directly than any candidate, say analysts

Sisulu had also cast aspersions against Ramaphosa by questioning his struggle credentials, Breakfast said.

In interviews, she has reportedly claimed an ANC leader must have struggle credentials, appearing to brag about her own.

In an apparent dig at Ramaphosa, Sisulu told an SABC interviewer that some ANC members were known to have been in the struggle but others were merely associated with it.

“Cooperation between Ramaphosa and Sisulu will be a mission impossible,” said Breakfast.

Sisulu’s statements show ‘bitterness’

“They can’t work together. This is a different ball game than Nasrec [because] her public statements show some kind of bitterness towards him.

“I think she thinks she is senior to Ramaphosa. But if he is a lightweight in the ANC, why didn’t the ANC elect him as its secretary-general in the past and why did Jacob Zuma bring Ramaphosa back from business to be his deputy? So there is some inconsistency by the RET people.”

Despite RET criticism of Ramaphosa, the president has won all the strategic battles with the RET.

“That is why, after they realised that they could not defeat him politically, legally or otherwise, they resorted to agitate people to destroy the country in July 2021,” Breakfast said.

RET fighting a losing battle

Political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu said the RET could be fighting a losing battle if they field three candidates at the same time against Ramaphosa.

Ndlovu, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, also agreed that Mkhize was the most popular compared the Dlamini-Zuma and Sisulu. There could be a consolidation of their campaigns but Mkhize would most likely emerge as a leading candidate because he enjoys wider support in KZN.

Johannesburg-born Sisulu could be chosen as Mkhize’s running mate because the province wouldn’t like both president and deputy president to come from KZN.

Dlamini-Zuma no longer enjoyed the support of the RET because she was seen as being too close to Ramaphosa.

This was demonstrated by the fact that, even when she was recommended by the former president Zuma, KZN rejected her.

“So Mkhize is likely to be the one contesting against Ramaphosa on behalf of the RET group. There is no doubt,” Ndlovu said.

ALSO READ: RET hurdle for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

– ericn@citizen.co.za