ANC’s succession headache already at full steam
The ANC will have to ask itself difficult questions if it does not elect its deputy president to succeed the party’s president, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Wednesday.
"Now I don’t want us to create traditions that do not exist, but when we elect a deputy president you should be having succession in mind, that’s a more correct argument," said Mantashe. "The worst thing that happens is when a deputy contests the president to become president because it means we elect without succession in mind, and we are saying a 105-year-old movement must have succession in mind."
Mantashe added: "Once you have a deputy and you elect someone else you ask yourself difficult questions — ‘Is this deputy not competent enough to be the successor’ — that belongs to the debate more than the tradition. That debate must be allowed space. There is a deputy president, he is a competent individual. Can he actually ascend to power and lead the organisation? If not, what are the issues?" He had been asked about the tradition that the deputy president of the ANC succeed the president, as the party prepares for its national conference in December. His comments come as a Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s name has been thrown in to the ring to replace President Jacob Zuma when his term ends in December — and as deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa also looks set to contest the post.
The ANC has been gripped by succession fever just over a week into the year in which it is set to elect Zuma’s successor. Already, two lists have been circulated: one in The New Age with Ramaphosa in the top spot and treasurer Zweli Mkhize as his deputy; another, circulated by members of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) with Free State ANC chairman Ace Magashule in the top spot and Dlamini-Zuma as his deputy.
The latter list also includes ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Sihle Zikalala as secretary general, Nomvula Mokonyane as deputy secretary general, international relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane as treasurer, and Mpumalanga chairman David Mabuza as national chairman. This list was circulated after ANCYL president Collen Maine told Reuters that a "shock" candidate would be nominated by his structure of the ANC.
Mantashe said that those circulating these lists thrived on chaos and divisions in the ANC: "Many thrive better when the ANC is chaotic and divided. There will be people who are attracted to thrive in chaos." Mantashe said the duty of the ANC was to push this group to the periphery and force them to play according to the rules.