Mantashe weighs in as ANC succession debate heats up

The ANC secretary-general says the debate on why the deputy can’t ascend to power & lead the organisation must be allowed.

FILE: ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte and Secretary General Gwede Mantashe at a party briefing. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – As the African National Congress (ANC) succession debate heats up, the party’s Secretary General Gwede Mantashe has weighed in on discussions around whether it’s the tradition of the ANC that the deputy president always succeeds the president, saying this debate must be allowed.

Mantashe held a round table discussion with journalists at Luthuli House on Wednesday.

The secretary-general says the ANC must have succession in mind when electing the deputy president saying that when the deputy is overlooked - that raises questions.

He says the debate on why the deputy can’t ascend to power and lead the organisation must be allowed.

“But once you have a deputy and you elect somebody else you ask yourself difficult questions; is this deputy not competent enough to be a successor? That belongs to the debate than to the tradition.”

The party’s alliance partner, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, also citing the tradition in the ANC that the deputy takes over from the president.

But the ANC Women's League (ANCWL), who endorsed NEC member Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, sayS tradition should not be confused with the policy of the ANC.

Mantashe reprimanded the league, saying that it is premature to pronounce any names.

The ANCWL said it did not deviate in any way from its long-standing mandate by calling for the election of the ANC’s first female president during its NEC meeting last weekend.

It maintains that the party has not even had 50% female representation, saying that pronouncing its preferred candidate is pursuing the ANC’s policy for equality and non-sexism.

The league has said that it will not be persuaded to change its decision despite criticism from Mantashe and President Jacob Zuma, who stated that the qualities the new leader should have must be discussed before names are pronounced.

The Women’s League says Dlamini-Zuma is tried and tested and has grown within the ranks of the party, adding that she’s the best person to take over from Zuma in December.

(Edited by Leeto M K hoza)