David Makhura warns ANC will be punished for electing wrong leaders
Gauteng premier David Makhura has warned that the governing ANC will lose its majority and prolong an economic slump if it elects the wrong leaders this weekend.
"If it doesn’t give SA the leadership that will win public confidence, not only is the ANC going to lose 2019 elections but the country will be in a much longer protracted economic disaster, with deep pain for ordinary people.
"We have got to get a team of leaders who understand that South Africans are fed up with corruption and also fed up with an economy that is not performing," he said in an interview.
While Makhura did not name his preferred candidate, the majority of Gauteng ANC branches back Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for leader.
More than 5,000 ANC delegates including Makhura, will converge on Johannesburg from Saturday to elect a successor for President Jacob Zuma as leader of the ANC and to be its presidential candidate for the 2019 elections.
The party faced a critical moment to regain public and business confidence and pull the economy back from a downturn in which unemployment surging to 28% and poverty increased, Makhura said.
The majority of Gauteng delegates were pinning their hopes on Ramaphosa to restore confidence in an economy that was downgraded to junk in 2017 amid political and policy uncertainty under Zuma. Former AU Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is Ramaphosa’s main rival. While Ramaphosa has spoken of the need to stamp out corruption and boost the economy through "inclusive growth", Dlamini-Zuma is supported by senior party officials pushing for policies that include expropriating land without compensation and increasing the share of mines that need to be owned by black South Africans.
Ramaphosa is preferred by most investors. While he was endorsed by more branches than Dlamini-Zuma, she may benefit from the support of bigger branches in the mainly rural provinces that will send more delegates to the conference.
Makhura said he was confident there were good leaders among those nominated for the ANC’s six top positions but would not rule out the possibility of delegates being paid to vote for certain candidates.
"A conference is a conference, so people may not always vote in accordance to what SA needs at the moment," he said. "There are a lot of influences. People may vote according to what is factional politics or buying of votes."
The ANC suffered its worst electoral performance in 2016 when it lost control of Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. The leadership contest has caused deep rifts in the party and weighed on the rand and bonds. Business confidence is the weakest in three decades.
There was a lot at stake at the conference as ANC research had shown it would suffer in future elections under Zuma or a Zuma-backed candidate, said Susan Booysen, a professor at the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Governance.