08 Dec

Rural Baron Emerges as Kingmaker in South Africa’s ANC Race

A former school teacher who’s been linked to a succession of scandals in South Africa has emerged as a likely kingmaker in the contest to decide who will become the next leader of the ruling party and probably the country.

David Mabuza, who calls himself “the cat” because of his political survival skills, emerged as a power broker within the African National Congress by signing up tens of thousands of new members in the rural eastern Mpumalanga region where he is the party’s chairman and provincial premier. As a result, he’ll lead the second-largest voting bloc to the ANC’s national elective conference that begins on Dec. 16 and ends Dec. 20 in Johannesburg.

The contest pits Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, President Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife and the former chairwoman of the African Union Commission. While Mabuza persuaded 223 of the party’s Mpumalanga branches to opt for a consensus leader rather than endorse anyone, neither of the two contenders are likely to withdraw and he’ll hold considerable sway over who they will eventually back.

“The fight is going down to the wire,” Susan Booysen, a political science professor at the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Governance in Johannesburg, said by phone. “A few hundred votes could be crucial at the end of the day. Mabuza has multiple stakes in the game. He can be the kingmaker.”

Mabuza, 57, who is widely known by his initials DD, said in a Dec. 1 interview that the ANC needs to avoid a bruising leadership battle that could cost it support in 2019 elections. Backing for the party, which has ruled since Nelson Mandela led it to power after the end of apartheid in 1994, already slumped to a record low in last year’s municipal vote. Support fell because of widespread discontent over Zuma’s leadership and allegations that he allowed members of a wealthy family who are in business with his son to influence the awarding of cabinet posts and state contracts.

To read the full article, click here. 

06 Dec

Why South Africa’s Leadership Race Is Wide Open

The race to lead South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is in overdrive. While current nomination tallies from the ANC’s branches indicate that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has the edge ahead of the party’s national elective conference that starts Dec. 16, its voting structure and procedures mean his main rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma could still win. The victor is likely to become the country’s next president.

1. What’s at stake?

The ANC holds a national conference every five years to pick its top leadership. Because the ANC has held power in South Africa since apartheid ended in 1994, the winning candidates typically go on to top positions in the government. Jacob Zuma, the nation’s current president, won control of the ANC from Thabo Mbeki in December 2007 and took office in May 2009.

2. Why isn’t Zuma running again?

While the ANC’s rules don’t explicitly ban Zuma from running for a third term, they specify that the party’s leader must be its presidential candidate in national elections. The constitution limits the nation’s president to serving a maximum of two five-year terms, and Zuma’s time will be up in 2019. The party will probably be loath to bend the rules to keep Zuma on — his immersion in a succession of scandals has eroded its support and cost the ANC control of Johannesburg, the economic hub, and Pretoria, the capital, in last year’s municipal elections.

3. Who decides the ANC’s leadership race?

The 5,240 voting delegates who will attend the conference.The ANC’s branches will be represented 4,731 delegates. The incumbent leadership structures in the nine provinces will send 27 delegates each, the party’s national executive committee has 86 delegates and three leagues representing the youth, women and veterans have 60 delegates each. While the party has previously elected a president, deputy president, secretary-general, deputy secretary-general, chairperson, treasurer-general, it is considering proposals to enlarge its leadership structure, which would enable it to accommodate more members of competing factions.

To read the full article, click here.