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Opposition parties raise concerns over ANC’s new top 6

Cyril Ramaphosa was elected party president with David Mabuza as his deputy, who is believed to be a President Jacob Zuma loyalist.

The ANC's newly elected top six acknowledge their supporters at the party's national conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg on 18 December 2017. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Opposition parties have asked questions about whether the ANC’s new top six will be able to work together to unify the party following the national elective conference.

Cyril Ramaphosa was elected party president with David Mabuza as his deputy, who is believed to be a President Jacob Zuma loyalist.

The United Democratic Movement's Bantu Holomisa says the new leadership is a clear compromise.

“The top six are not going to work alone. They’ll be working with the NWC (national working committee) and NEC (national executive committee). The NEC, as we’ve seen in the last tenure, was loaded with friends of JZ from his province. With this top six, they represent a geographical spread.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa says the slate compromise, if not handled well, could result in internal tensions which will divert the ruling party’s attention from serving the nation.

“It comes across as a very controversial compromise of slate which is bound to give the ANC some sort of problems. For so long as long as they’re the party in government, those problems will flow over into the public discourse.”

The ANc's new top 6

MARKETS

As ANC leader, Ramaphosa, a 65-year-old union leader who became a businessman and is now one of South Africa’s richest people, is likely to become the country’s next president after elections in 2019.

He has promised to fight rampant corruption and revitalize the economy, a message hailed by foreign investors.

Zuma’s presidency, tainted by corruption and scandal, has badly tarnished the ANC’s image both at home and abroad. The party once led by Nelson Mandela is now deeply divided.

Ramaphosa narrowly beat Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 68, a former cabinet minister and Zuma’s ex-wife, in Monday’s vote, marking a pivotal moment for the ANC, which launched black-majority rule under Mandela’s leadership 23 years ago.

He smiled and hugged other party officials as the results were read out. Zuma sat stony-faced as Ramaphosa’s victory was announced.

Political instability, including questions over who would replace Zuma, has been cited by credit rating agencies as a big factor behind their decision to cut South Africa to “junk”.

Economic growth in Africa’s traditional powerhouse has been lethargic over the last six years and the jobless rate stands near record levels.

Zuma has faced allegations of corruption since he became head of state in 2009 but has denied any wrongdoing. The president has also faced allegations that his friends, the wealthy Gupta businessmen, wielded undue influence over his government.

Zuma and the Guptas have denied the accusations.

The 75-year-old president has survived several votes of no-confidence in parliament over his performance as head of state.

Dlamini-Zuma, 68, the president’s preferred candidate, had campaigned on pledges to tackle the racial inequality that has persisted since the end of white-minority rule.

The rand currency had risen to a nine-month high of 12.5200, as the market priced in a Ramaphosa victory.

Government bonds also closed firmer before the announcement that Ramaphosa had won the race.

‘TOP SIX’ SPLIT

Analysts say the bitterness of the power struggle between Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma has increased the chances that the party will find it hard to set policy and could possibly split before the 2019 national election.

After his victory, Ramaphosa will be ANC’s flag-bearer in that election, but will have to contend with Dlamini-Zuma’s allies in his leadership team, meaning that their policies are divergent.

Dlamini-Zuma is a fierce campaigner against racial inequality whose hostility to big business has rattled investors in South Africa. Backers of Ramaphosa, say she is peddling populist rhetoric and would rule in the mould of her former husband.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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