05 Feb

ANC Calls for ‘Urgent’ Meeting of Officials After Zuma Talks

A committee of top officials from South Africa’s ruling party is due to meet a day after President Jacob Zuma reportedly told its most senior leaders that he wouldn’t step down.

Zuma’s refusal to resign is forcing the African National Congress to decide if it wants to recall him as national president, Business Day reported, without saying where it got the information. The National Working Committee can convene the larger National Executive Committee, which can order Zuma to step down.

“Everything is under control. There’s no crisis,” ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule said by phone. An “urgent notice” sent to members of the NWC, a 26-member group that oversees the day-to-day operations of the party, scheduled the meeting for 2 p.m. on Monday in Johannesburg.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, 65, was elected as ANC leader in December, defeating Zuma’s preferred candidate and ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. While Zuma’s second and final term is only due to end next year, his immersion in a succession of scandals has eroded support for the ANC and many within the party’s ranks want him to go before he delivers the annual state-of-the-nation address on Feb. 8.

“There is huge pressure on the ANC to rein in President Jacob Zuma once and for all to show that they are very serious about due process being followed and the fight against corruption,” Sethulego Matebesi, a political analyst at the University of the Free State in the central city of Bloemfontein, said by phone.

“It will be a numbers game. There is a huge possibility that President Zuma may not deliver the state-of-the-nation address.”

The rand was 0.5 percent stronger against the dollar at 12.0290 by 10:51 a.m. in Johannesburg on Monday. The currency is the best performer in the world since Ramaphosa was elected, with investors expecting that Zuma would be replaced early.

While Zuma, 75, has survived numerous efforts to remove him from office, he faces the first no-confidence motion in parliament on Feb. 22 without being head of his party. Pro- and anti-Zuma groups plan to stage rival marches on the ANC’s Johannesburg headquarters on Monday.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-04/top-anc-committee-to-meet-after-talks-with-south-africa-s-zuma 

26 Jan

Zuma- Gupta Ties Under Spotlight in South African Graft Probe

A South African commission of inquiry will investigate whether President Jacob Zuma played any role in the Gupta family’s alleged offer of cabinet posts to people including former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and other claims that they influenced state decisions.

The inquiry will be guided by the report of the nation’s former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, according to its terms of reference published in the Government Gazette on Thursday.

She ordered the inquiry into allegations that the Guptas may have influenced cabinet appointments and received special treatment for a coal business linked to the family and one of the president’s sons. Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.

Jonas said the Gupta family offered him the position of finance minister, two months before Nhlanhla Nene was removed from the post, sparking a drop in the rand and the nation’s bonds.

Last month, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma as head of the African National Congress and has pledged to clamp down on corruption in a bid to revive the ruling party’s flagging public support before general elections next year and boost investor confidence in the economy.

Some senior members of the ANC have called for the commission to probe allegations of undue influence over state decisions going back as far as 1994 and beyond, under the former all-white government. The terms of reference may be expanded or amended, according to the proclamation.

Madonsela said in November 2016 that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should appoint the head of the inquiry because the president had a conflict of interest.

Zuma said earlier this month he would appoint the commission and abide by a court ruling that Mogoeng must select its leader.

This was after the High Court in December rejected Zuma’s arguments that he alone can set up the commission and ordered him to pay the cost of the case. Zuma accepted Mogoeng’s recommendation that his deputy, Raymond Zondo, head the commission.

The commission must submit its report and recommendations to the president within 180 days of its commencement, according to the gazette.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-25/zuma-gupta-ties-under-spotlight-in-south-african-graft-probe

11 Jan

Boiling a frog: Ramaphosa’s patient battle for the soul of the ANC

Cyril Ramaphosa’s dramatic election as president of the African National Congress (ANC) last month has raised as many questions as it has answered. Since he defeated rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the 18 December party conference, South Africa has effectively had two centres of power: Ramaphosa as ANC president, Jacob Zuma as state president.

There are rumours some members are pushing for President Zuma’s departure before the 2019 elections when he will have to retire. This would pave the way for Ramaphosa to become state president. From there, he could enact reforms, take control of policy matters, and put his stamp on government.

However, with the party so finely balanced between pro-Ramaphosa and pro-Zuma factions, this possibility cannot be counted on and would have to be handled very delicately. The National Executive Committee’s (NEC) top six positions, for instance, are evenly split. Ramaphosa has only a slender majority in the broader NEC and other sub-bodies.

This means that although Ramaphosa has succeeded in the tough feat of becoming ANC president, for now, he will still have to engage in numerous trade-offs with Zuma allies going forward. At the same time, he will also have to manage some surprise policies imposed by the state president ahead of the conference, such as the promise to provide free higher education for the poor.

Also on his plate are a set of radical policies championed by Zuma allies and adopted at the conference. These include increasing the government’s shareholding in the Reserve Bank to 100% and expropriating land without compensation.

This will all add to the already tough challenges of ensuring economic stability, restoring credibility, and overhauling state-owned enterprises. The upcoming 2019 elections add a further sense of urgency.

For the moment, Ramaphosa will have to navigate these hurdles dragged down by almost half the party. However, President Zuma has notably had some of his authority stifled by recent rulings.

To read the full article, click here.

10 Jan

Who’s in Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet? Alleged leaked list shows his choices

A document shared only by ANC insiders has found its way into public circulation this week. It reveals Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet choices and preferred ministers. It is fair to say the changes would be sweeping, and perhaps even progressive.

As reported by Donwald Pressly of the Cape Messenger, and shared with BizNews.com, the extensive list offers a real glimpse into a changing future for the ruling party.

In fact, Ramaphosa has more freedom in appointing his cabinet members than Zuma has ever had. The 2007 resolution that only made it possible to appoint ANC NEC members in top positions has since been scrapped. This means Cyril is now at liberty to appoint who he wants, and yes, that does include anti-Zuma figures.

Pravin Gordhan could return to government

Returns have been touted for Pravin Gordhan, Derek Hanekom and Blade Nzimande. Gordhan would be back as the Public Enterprises Minister, ousting Lynne Brown. Hanekom is set for a comeback in his beloved Tourism post. Nzimande would regain his Higher Education post, just months after falling victim to Zuma’s axe.

Ramaphosa is not constrained by the divisions in the party. At least, that’s what this so-called ‘leaked list’ tells us. It seems he is not preparing for life with Zuma, but life after Zuma. JZ remains the Head of State, despite stepping down from the ANC Presidency. This is something Cyril is keen resolve imminently.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet could feature Zuma’s critics

Mondli Gungubela, Bheki Cele and Lindiwe Sisulu are all expected to serve a role in the higher echelons of Ramaphosa’s ANC. This trio are arguably the biggest internal critics of Jacob Zuma, with the exception of Makhosi Khoza before her departure.

Gungubela openly stated he would be voting against Jacob Zuma in the motion of no confidence last August. His seat at the table would be as the Co-operative Governance Minister. Cele, a vocal opponent of the Guptas and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, could be the next State Security Minister if this list is true.

To read the full article, click here.

09 Jan

Zuma to Face Ouster Bid at South African ANC Meeting

South African President Jacob Zuma will face a fresh bid to force him from office when the ruling African National Congress’s top leadership meets this week for the first time since he relinquished control of the party to his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.

A proposal to order Zuma to step down before his term ends in 2019 will be discussed at a Wednesday meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee in the southern city of East London, according to three members of the panel who spoke on condition of anonymity. Zuma’s scandal-tainted tenure has eroded support for the ANC.

The NEC’s 86 voting members are divided into two loose factions — one that backed Ramaphosa, 65, to take over as party leader at the ANC’s national conference last month and another that’s allied to Zuma and favored his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed him.

Ramaphosa won the contest with just 52 percent of the vote, giving him a tenuous hold over the party, and it remains unclear where exactly the balance of power lies within the panel, which usually takes decisions by consensus.

“Given Cyril Ramaphosa’s emphasis on renewing the ANC, doing things afresh, it makes all the sense that the matter should be a priority agenda issue,” Mcebisi Ndletyana, a political science professor at the University of Johannesburg, said by phone.

“If it is raised and the motion is defeated, then that is a serious worry. It would be indicative that he does not have everyone behind him. It would make him a very weak president.”

Graft Charges

The ANC’s former head of intelligence, Zuma, 75, took office in May 2009 just weeks after prosecutors dropped graft charges against him. He’s spent years fighting a bid by opposition parties to have those charges reinstated and fending off allegations that he allowed members of the Gupta family to influence cabinet appointments and the award of state contracts.

To read the full article, click here.

21 Dec

Ramaphosa Has Unsteady Grip on South Africa’s Ruling ANC

Cyril Ramaphosa, the newly elected leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, has a tenuous hold on power in the party after his allies fell short of securing outright control over its top leadership body.

A lack of support from a clear majority of the 86 voting members of the ANC’s National Executive Committee will limit his scope to drive policy changes and assert his authority over President Jacob Zuma, whose second term as the nation’s leader ends in 2019. The NEC is the ANC’s highest decision-making body in between its five-yearly national conferences.

The faction led by the candidate he beat in the presidential race, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, probably has the loyalty of about 45 of the 86 NEC’s voting members, said Xolani Dube, a political analyst at the Xubera Institute for Research and Development in the port city of Durban.

“Cyril is a very compromised president,” Dube said Thursday by phone. “He is not running the administration of the ANC. He has got a serious problem.”

Ramaphosa’s Constraints

The executive committee’s composition will constrain Ramaphosa’s ability to focus the government’s agenda on promoting economic growth, creating jobs and cracking down on corruption. His victory over Dlamini-Zuma for the presidency was by the smallest margin since the ANC came to power in 1994, and only two of the other top-five party officials elected with him are considered certain allies.

The rand weakened as much as 0.5 percent before trading little changed at 12.7142 per dollar by 11:28 a.m. in Johannesburg, bringing its gain since before the start of the ANC conference to 6.2 percent.

In his first speech as ANC president in the early hours of Thursday, Ramaphosa pledged a crack down on graft, which has become increasingly rife during Zuma’s almost nine-year administration.

“Corruption has to come to a stop and it must happen with immediate effect,” Ramaphosa said. “We must confront the reality that critical institutions of our state have been targeted by individuals and families.”

To read the full article, click here.

21 Dec

South Africa’s ANC Agrees to Push Constitutional Change on Land

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress agreed to seek a change in the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, provided it doesn’t affect the economy and food production.

The party agreed to the proposal in a debate that “nearly collapsed” its five yearly conference, Enoch Godongwana, the head of the ANC’s economic transformation committee, told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Delegates didn’t agree on a deadline for the change and the policy must not affect other sectors of the economy, he said.

“There should be no illegal occupation of land,” Godongwana said. “That is part of the resolution we have taken.”

South Africa ruling party has sought to accelerate redistributing land to the country’s black majority from the more affluent white minority but is deeply divided on how to achieve that, with President Jacob Zuma seeking radical policies as his term as national leader comes to an end. Cyril Ramaphosa beat Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s preferred candidate and ex-wife, to become ANC president this week.

The rand reversed gains of as much as 1.1 percent against the dollar and was 0.3 percent weaker at 12.7435 by 10:15 p.m. in Johannesburg.

Farm Debt

Two-thirds of lawmakers need to approve a change in the constitution. The ANC holds 62 percent of the seats in parliament and the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters, which backs the proposal, has 6 percent.

Read more about land policy in South Africa

White farmers own almost three-quarters of South Africa’s agricultural land, according to a land audit by farm lobbying group Agri SA published last month. The amount of land owned by the government and racial groups who were disadvantaged under white-minority rule rose to 26.7 percent of South Africa’s agricultural land in 2016, from 14.9 percent in 1994, according to the audit.

Farm debt to South Africa’s commercial banks was about 89 billion rand ($7 billion) in December 2016, according to data from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-20/south-africa-s-anc-agrees-to-push-constitutional-change-on-land

18 Dec

Voting Continues for New Leader of South Africa’s Ruling ANC

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress started voting in the early hours of Monday for a new leader to replace President Jacob Zuma in a tight race between his former wife and his deputy.

The vote at a national conference in Johannesburg follows a bitter dispute over a decision to exclude almost a 10th of the original 5,240 delegates who the party ruled weren’t properly accredited. Balloting started after the ANC had earlier announced a postponement of the vote, which was originally scheduled to begin Saturday. Delegates from branches in four of the nation’s nine provinces have yet to vote, Talk Radio 702 reported, citing the party.

In the run-up to the conference, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, 65, won more nominations from the party branches than Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the 68-year-old former chairwoman of the African Union Commission.

“Unless there is electoral fraud of some kind, my reading of the mood of the conference is that, if anything, Ramaphosa is likely to win more comfortably as some delegates decide to slip the shackles of their provincial barons,” said Richard Calland, a political analyst and associate law professor at the University of Cape Town.

Besides the ANC leader, the delegates are voting for five other top officials in a ballot that was initially scheduled to take place overnight on Saturday. The race has caused deep rifts in the 105-year-old ANC and unnerved investors seeking political and policy clarity.

The rand rallied to a three-month high as traders bet Ramaphosa will win. The currency gained 0.1 percent to 13.0843 per dollar, the strongest on a closing basis since Sept. 12, by 7:30 a.m. in Johannesburg.

Zuma Scandals

The conference is taking place as Zuma’s immersion in a succession of scandals is eroding the party’s standing to such an extent that it’s now at risk of losing its majority in 2019 elections.

To read the full article, click here. 

14 Dec

‘Make-or-Break’ Time for South Africa as ANC Chooses New Leaders

Almost a quarter-century after Nelson Mandela led the African National Congress to power at the end of apartheid and the world heralded the birth of the “rainbow nation,” South Africa stands at a crossroads.

As delegates of the ruling African National Congress meet this weekend to choose a successor to President Jacob Zuma as party leader, they face a clear choice: his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who favors the president’s push for “radical economic transformation” to redistribute wealth to the black majority, or his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, who’s pledging to fight corruption and revive a moribund economy to cut a 28 percent unemployment rate.

The leadership conference comes as Zuma’s immersion in a succession of scandals is eroding the 105-year-old party’s support to such an extent that it’s now at risk of losing its majority in 2019 elections. The run-up to the vote by 5,240 delegates that’s scheduled for Dec. 17 and is too close to call has caused deep rifts in the ANC, weighed on the rand and nation’s bonds and unnerved investors seeking political and policy clarity.

“What’s really at stake now is the future of South Africa, not just the ANC’s continued governance of South Africa — everyone needs to understand that,’’ David Makhura, the 49-year-old premier of the nation’s richest province, Gauteng, where an overwhelming majority of ANC branches back Ramaphosa, said in an interview Tuesday. “Even people who don’t vote for the ANC are hoping that we will make one move that will bring South Africa back on track.”

Support for the party slipped to an all-time low of 54 percent in last year’s municipal elections, from a peak of almost 70 percent in 2004, and it lost control of Johannesburg, the economic hub, and Pretoria, the capital, to opposition coalitions.

Fifty-nine percent of 2,100 people who said they’d voted for the ANC favor Ramaphosa to take over as leader, while 19 percent backed Dlamini-Zuma, a computer-generated poll published this month by survey company RatePop found. The party will probably struggle to retain power in 2019 with her at the helm, according to the survey.

To read the full article, click here.

13 Dec

ANC Will Lose Power With Wrong Leaders, Makhura Says

The premier of South Africa’s richest province warned the ruling African National Congress will lose its majority and extend an economic slump if it elects the wrong leaders this weekend.

“If it doesn’t give South Africa 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,” David Makhura, the 49-year-old premier of Gauteng, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Johannesburg offices on Tuesday. “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.”

While Makhura didn’t directly name his preferred candidate, the overwhelming majority of ANC branches in Gauteng, which includes the capital, Pretoria, and the nation’s financial hub, Johannesburg, back Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, 65, for party leader. Makhura said he has confidence in the province’s choice for leaders.

More than 5,000 ANC delegates, including Makhura, will converge in Johannesburg from Dec. 16 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 faces a critical moment to regain public and business confidence and pull Africa’s most-industrialized economy back from a downturn that has seen unemployment surge to 28 percent and poverty increase, Makhura said.

Branch Support

The majority of Gauteng delegates are pinning their hopes on Ramaphosa to restore confidence in an economy that was downgraded to junk this year amid political and policy uncertainty under Zuma. Former African Union Commission Chairwoman and Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 68, is his 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 who propose 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.

To read the full article, click here.