The African National Congress (ANC) has reportedly taken a “hardline stance” against the party’s hotly contested leadership race, calling on the most likely contenders for future ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to distance themselves from “premature” leadership endorsements.
On Monday the governing party’s leadership criticised both the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) and its tripartite alliance partner Cosatu for naming candidates prematurely, saying it only served to divide the ANC further, BusinessLIVE reported on Tuesday.
The call by the party follows the ANCWL’s recent public endorsement of outgoing African Union Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as its preferred candidate to take over the reins from President Jacob Zuma in December when his term ends as party leader.
The ANCWL’s announcement on Saturday on the eve of the mother body’s 105th birthday celebrations was in defiance of a special ANC leadership meeting that barred the organisation and its affiliates from making such pronouncements before the succession debate is formally opened.
In November last year the trade union federation endorsed Ramaphosa after its biggest affiliate union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), entered the ANC succession debate, saying it would lobby and campaign for the deputy president to succeed Zuma.
The public sector union has also called on Zuma to resign from office following a raft of scandals that have dogged his presidency. The union has called on Ramaphosa to immediately take over as party president to unite the ANC ahead of its elective conference set for December 16 to 20.
ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa told the news website these pronouncements constituted ill-discipline and those named should speak out against the practice.
“It is divisive and they [Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma] must say, ‘not in my name’,” he said.
“As leaders, they must say not in my name, even if they accept nomination later when the process is officially open.”
The ANC was currently discussing a set of principles that would define a leader or the leadership that should be elected, Kodwa said.
“These pronouncements are undermining the effort to foster unity. We call on our structures not to allow themselves to be further divided prematurely,” he added.
Ronnie Mamoepa, Ramaphosa’s spokesman, said the deputy president fully aligned himself with the January 8 Statement delivered by Zuma on Sunday, particularly regarding the leadership race, according to the report.