AFTER failing to garner enough branch nominations for the ANC presidency, National Chairperson Baleka Mbete has endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over as party president.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the ruling party’s 54th National Conference in Johannesburg on Saturday night, Mbete said he decision was part of her attempt to contribute towards unity in the movement.
“What we are announcing is that we publicly endorse comrade Cyril Ramaphosa. We have been talking and we agree on how to approach the issues of maximising unity in the organisation. In particular, moving towards 2019 because it would be wrong for us to have a limited approach to what we have come to do here,” said Mbete, talking to the media after proceedings adjourned for the evening as credentials were still being dealt with.
Mbete, who had earlier thrown her hat in the ring to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC leader, said Ramaphosa was the best person to take the ANC forward.
He was best placed to rally South Africans behind the ANC ahead of the 2019 general elections, she said, and help to reorganise the party to better deliver services to the masses.
She added: “Therefore, we think that we should always not think very much here and now but we should think far as we have a broader responsibility to our people.
We have worked together for a long time and in how we have discussed issues that affect the movement and South Africa, we have agreed a lot more.”
Ramaphosa and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are the leading candidates to take over as ANC president. Mbete’s decision flies in the face of the ANC Woman’s League’s resolution to support a female candidate. The league is backing Dlamini-Zuma.
Asked if she wasn’t scared of criticism for not supporting a female candidate, Mbete replied:
“I’m not afraid really. In fact, as we are here, we are here as cadres, individual members of the ANC who have something to contribute and I’m sure we will work together with comrade Nkosazana and every other candidate but in the main, we are talking about within the key leadership we want to work together. We have always worked together with comrade Ramaphosa.”
Mbete stressed that Ramaphosa seems to be enjoying the support of the majority of delegates.
“It does look positive,” she said.
Mbete said the only way to unite the party is to cobble together a leadership collective comprising candidates with different perspectives and outlooks on life.
“We were taught by comrade Madiba, you should bring people that come from different experiences. From different perspectives and that way, you mobilise more people who have been part and parcel of those experience,” she insisted.
“That way you rake in more people and a broader spectrum of people you unite. I think unity is paramount here and therefore part of what this is, it’s about giving meaning to unity so that we don’t talk unity that has no meaning. But one that is practical and will give us something more tangible.”
The National Assembly Speaker called on members to think about 2019 when they elect the new leadership. She said the elected leaders should be one that will deliver solutions to the people of South Africa.
“In the main, that is where the ANC must focus on. In my address I focused on not just looking at the conference but to say what is it strategically that we are working for our people that we can actually deliver for South Africa and it was within that context that we had the discussion [with Ramaphosa],” said Mbete.