ANC Nasrec 2, unlike Nasrec 1, appears set to be a one-sided affair – with President Cyril Ramaphosa seemingly heading for a victory without needing to put up a big fight. The 2017 ANC presidential race between Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was such a close affair and well organised by both factions of the party that it was very difficult the predict the winner. There is less pressure for Ramaphosa this time around. Without formally launching any campaign, he received unprecedented nominations from ANC branches, filling him with hope for a second term. With his political strength having multiplied…
ANC Nasrec 2, unlike Nasrec 1, appears set to be a one-sided affair – with President Cyril Ramaphosa seemingly heading for a victory without needing to put up a big fight.
The 2017 ANC presidential race between Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was such a close affair and well organised by both factions of the party that it was very difficult the predict the winner.
There is less pressure for Ramaphosa this time around. Without formally launching any campaign, he received unprecedented nominations from ANC branches, filling him with hope for a second term. With his political strength having multiplied since 2017, it was easy for Ramaphosa to beat his main challenger, Zweli Mkhize, by a large margin and to leave other presidential hopeful Dlamini-Zuma and Lindiwe Sisulu to fall by the way-side due to lack of support.
RET was at its strongest in 2017
This race is different to the 2017 election where stakes were so high that six top leaders put their hats in the ring for the presidency before it became a two-horse neck-and-neck race between Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa. The strength of the two was confirmed in the results that gave 2 440 to Ramaphosa against Dlamini-Zuma’s 2 261, a mere 179 difference.
Hostilities marred the 2017 national conference. The radical economic transformation (RET) faction was at its strongest and more vocal and the grouping had mastered the art of negative media campaigning by inundating social media with false messages aimed to discredit their opponents.
The CR17 camp, on the other hand, ran a quiet campaign with massive sloganeering and new songs specifically composed to popularise their candidate amid claims they were over-funded by big business. Claims that the CR17 campaigners were paid for their roles in the process, abound.
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At the time, Dlamini-Zuma’s support was not only limited to KwaZulu-Natal, but she had a wider footprint that included the backing of the ANC Women’s and the ANC Youth leagues. Jacob Zuma and his entire RET faction countrywide were on her side.
Besides the whole of KZN, part of the Eastern Cape with its RET diehards Andile Lungisa and Mlibo Qoboshiyane and Free State and North West were all behind her.
The Guptas were also still around and handy to assist her campaign. They had invested in Dlamini-Zuma’s political future after, two years prior to launching her campaign, they gave her their exclusive Women of the Year Award, said to have been laundered by the Guptas’ associate, Eric Wood.
Thin following from KZN
Unlike Dlamini-Zuma, Mkhize came with a thin following from KZN this time around, where Ramaphosa had made some serious inroads.
Ramaphosa backer Thabani Nyawose lost 210 to 181 for chairperson position against the powerful Zandile Gumede at the influential eThekwini region.
In addition to a limited footprint, Zuma declined to support Mkhize and instead opted for Dlamini-Zuma. This left Mkhize with only support from the newly elected “Taliban” grouping provincial executive committee led by Siboniso Duma and lower party structures.
Mkhize’s nomination by the ANC national youth task team means little because it came not from the branches but only their leadership’s internal voting.
Mkhize only enjoys part of RET support
In addition, Mkhize only enjoyed a part of the RET support but not the hardline core of the faction, which was still reminiscing about Zuma and his ally, Ace Magashule.
This is a huge advantage for Ramaphosa, who is leading the nomination stakes for president at 2037 against Mkhize’s 916 while Dlamini-Zuma and Sisulu did not make the cut, proving to be no match his time around.
Significantly, the Free State and North West, which both previously supported Jacob Zuma and Dlamini-Zuma, nominated Ramaphosa, not Mkhize. As an incumbent president, Ramaphosa also had the advantage of state institutional capacity and the backing of former RET defectors such as Fikile Mbalula and Gwede Mantashe, who has become the cornerstone in Ramaphosa’s political house.
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In 2017, Ramaphosa’s and Dlamini Zuma’s campaign operated without party rules and no limit to funding or sponsorships. But they were well organised on the ground, complete with campaign managers, slogans, websites and even logos for their campaign.
The CR17 and NDZ17 blocs established the framework, albeit imperfect, on how future ANC campaigns would be conducted. Today, unlike then, the candidates had to declare their donations and submit bank transaction statements and expenditure to the party’s electoral commission, failing which they would face disciplinary action including being disqualified from the race.
As the D-day beckons, one thing for sure, Ramaphosa would win with a bigger margin over Mkhize this time around.