THE hour that delegates at the ANC’s 54th national conference spent singing and chanting while awaiting the results of the leadership contest must have been the longest and most tense for those vying for positions in the party’s top six.
After the ANC alliance partners had delivered their messages of support to the more than 4500 delegates just after 5pm on Monday, the long wait for the announcement of results began.
The packed auditorium burst into boisterous song, chanting and moving about hoisting placards bearing the names of their branches.
In the stage up front, presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, looking pensive and nervous, sat with her comrades Baleka Mbete and Bathabile Dlamini. It appeared they were somewhat sensing an imminent Cyril Ramaphosa victory.
Comrades from Dlamini-Zuma’s camp, including David Mahlobo and Nathi Mthethwa made numerous stop overs at her table, probably to offer some reassurance.
Further upfront to their left sat Ramaphosa next to outgoing president Jacob Zuma. The tension between the two men was obvious even as they tried to make small talk. Zuma took to taking videos of journalists with his cellphone, causing a ripple of excitement among some members of the media.
Lindiwe Sisulu, who had stood as a candidate for the position of deputy president cut a forlorn and lonely figure, seated by herself. It appeared she had already given up on losing to her popular rival David Mabuza.
At some point, as the singing of Mabuza’s supporters in the auditorium reached a crescendo, Sisulu looked to be close to shedding a tear. Unlike Dlamini-Zuma who was surrounded by comrades, Sisulu was all by herself, a sign perhaps of the lack of support from within the ranks of her ANC comrades.
In the midst of the long wait and before the official announcement, a tweet went out announcing that Ramaphosa had won the presidential race. The tension reached boiling point. The hundreds of journalists squeezed on the floor began to speculate.
The tension on Ramaphosa’s face eased. He broke into a satisfied smile after checking his phone. Zuma, seated next to him, took a call on his phone. His facial expression didn’t give away much. But he wasn’t a happy man.
Dlamini-Zuma also took a call. She looked stunned. Her comrades, Dlamini and Mbete, looked flabbergasted, devastated and in total shock. Mbete shed tears. Dlamini came close. Social media went ablaze, it’s a boy, tweets and Facebook posts began to flow.
Zuma and Ramaphosa fiddled with their phones. One was all smiles. The other, pensive. It was done. The Zuma dynasty was not about to become a reality. And when the official announcement was made just after half past six, it confirmed what was already known.
Ramaphosa had completed his dramatic journey from political obscurity to lead the continent’s oldest liberation movement.
Back in Chiawelo, the Soweto township where he grew up, news of his ascendancy to the ANC presidency sparked wild celebrations. Scores of his supporters, neighbours, childhood friends and ANC comrades descended on the house where he grew up in their hundreds.
No one had invited them. They just flocked there in celebration. Some had been at the house for the better part of the day, waiting, praying, hoping. Ramaphosa’s sister, Ivy, had not anticipated such a turn out. She had hoped that only a few neighbours would join her to watch the proceedings on TV.
But many more came. And when the news was announced on TV, she had locked herself in the bathroom. She could not take the suspense, the agony. The cheering of the guests in the lounge was the message she had been hoping for. It was done. The man from Mhlaba street had followed into the footsteps of another past Sowetan, Nelson Mandela.
Out in the street, the party gained momentum, youths lined up the narrow street in cars pumping music, singing, drinking beer. Women danced and sang, draped in flags, scarves and doeks bearing the colours of the ANC. A new dawn had broken. – Mukurukuru Media
The members of the ANC have spoken: Sihle Zikalala
KWAZULU-NATAL disputed chairperson Sihle Zikalala said the province has accepted the outcome of the conference despite their preferred candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma losing to Cyril Ramaphosa.
“When we started the nomination process‚ we knew we were entering the democratic process. Those who emerge will emerge out of the democratic will of the members. For me‚ I can say the members of the ANC have spoken and have rejected slates and have embraced all,” he said.
Zikalala said the province would work with the new leadership of Cyril Ramaphosa, David Mabuza, Ace Magashule, Gwede Mantashe, Jessie Duarte and Paul Mashatile.
“We congratulate those who have been elected and we will support them, even congratulate comrade Cyril‚ whom we didn’t nominate‚ and we pledge our loyalty and support to him as a leader of the ANC. We are not here for us as individuals. We are here for the organisation and its interests. We are very happy with the newly elected leadership. For us in KwaZulu-Natal it is not a sad day‚ but it is a good lesson that divisions undermine strengths,” said Zikalala.
The Women’s League was however not so accepting of the results. The league’s president Bathabile Dlamini who has been supporting Dlamini-Zuma leading to the conference said the composition of the top six promoted patriarchy. Only one woman was elected to be part of it.
She said the party regressed on gender parity. She added that they can’t be proud of the outcome.
“The ANC has got to take a decision about how women are going to be affirmed. The ANC has indeed regressed on the issue of women. We cannot be proud of this outcome, patriarchy has once again reared its ugly head,” said Dlamini.
She said the story would have been different if Duarte had contested the position with a man.
“Comrade Jessie was able to make it because she stood against another woman. If she had stood against a man‚ she would have been thrown under the bus,” she said.
Lindiwe Zulu echoed the same sentiments. She said women needed to go back to the trenches to find solutions to what they must do to get into power.
“At the end of the day we go back to the trenches as women to see where it is we didn’t go right to ensure that we got more women. The main reason why we keep pushing for women is that we believe as women we have the capacity and capability to be in a leadership position of the African National Congress,” she said.
During his first walkabout as president of the ANC, Ramaphosa said he had accepted the choices of the delegates despite not going with his slate. He said the chosen leadership would go a long way to unite the beleaguered movement.
“The membership has decided to give, if you like, their own slate, their own leadership as the top six. And we believe that with the national executive committee the same will prevail. Leadership that has been chosen is a unity leadership. It’s a leadership that combines the different views and approaches that were prevalent in the conference prior to the election. And we are very pleased with that,” he said – Political Staff