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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Insiders say ANC ready for change with Mashatile to replace Ramaphosa

Debate brews within ANC over Ramaphosa's future post-poor election results; Mashatile emerges as potential successor.

Will Cyril Ramaphosa be sacrificed because of the ANC’s poor performance in the recent elections?

That’s the debate among members of the ANC-led tripartite alliance as they seek a scapegoat for the party’s dismal showing in the 2024 national and provincial elections.

ALSO READ: ‘History will judge us for not putting aside our egos and grudges’

ANC insiders say the discussions within the ruling party now revolve around whether Deputy President Paul Mashatile is suitable to replace Ramaphosa as number one.

Not a clean candidate

But many are concerned about the controversies surrounding Mashatile, including allegations that a law firm owned by his friend received R337 million from the Gauteng housing department when Mashatile was MEC.

There are a slew of other graft-related allegations involving Mashatile.

However, party insiders, speaking anonymously, said while Ramaphosa’s mooted departure was not a done deal but rather one of the scenarios being considered, the ANC would like a fresh start in the incoming administration.

Insiders said staunch backers of the new government of national unity (GNU) would prefer as many parties as possible to be accommodated, including even some like the Pan Africanist Congress and Good.

Ramaphosa himself is thought to prefer Mashatile as his successor which, if accepted, would open the way for a new deputy president, or two deputy presidents, to be appointed by Mashatile.

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The second deputy president position might then be reserved for an opposition party such as the Inkatha Freedom Party. Ramaphosa is credited within the party for saving the ANC from loss of power in the 2019 elections, due to widespread corruption during the more than nine years of Jacob Zuma’s controversial rule.

Voters were ready to punish the party until Ramaphosa took over after Zuma was recalled and they gave the ANC 57.5% in the 2019 general election.

But the axe finally fell for the former liberation movement when it received a paltry 40% at the polls last month, which meant it could not govern alone.

The negotiations on the GNU have been very difficult. The ANC’s idea of including the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the GNU was vehemently rejected by its alliance partners, the SA Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of SA Trade Unions, which cited the DA’s alleged antiworking class, neoliberal policies.

Political analyst Prof Ntsikelelo Breakfast said the SACP and Cosatu’s stance was understandable, considering the DA’s thinly veiled support for Israel in the Gaza conflict and its opposition to the National Health Insurance programme.

The DA’s stances

Breakfast said the DA favoured a reduced public service, a small Cabinet, cuts in state expenditure and scrapping of the black economic empowerment policy.

If Ramaphosa insists on accommodating the DA and the party is offered the speakership and top committees in parliament, which are all key positions, then the ANC is gone, he said.

“This is politics. The parties can join forces with the government, but they still want to dislodge the government from power. By working with the DA, Cyril will give his opponents within the ANC political ammunition and they will want to remove him,” Breakfast said.

In seeking parliamentary leadership, the DA wanted to expose the ANC’s leadership weaknesses, he added. He said the ANC should join forces with the Economic Freedom Fighters and the uMkhonto weSizwe party “because of their ideological proximity”.

“You cannot talk politics without talking ideology. Public policy is influenced by ideology.”

The ANC insiders and others in the party rejected the notion of the DA taking leadership positions in parliament. Instead, they want to see the DA co-govern in the executive under ANC control.

“Our members believe that if the DA is granted its wish to take the speakership or lead the powerful portfolio committees, it will frustrate ANC policies by ensuring none of its legislation passes in parliament,” an insider said.

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