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Ramaphosa set to deliver his first address as ANC leader

While Cyril Ramaphosa was scheduled to speak at around noon, the delays and disputes that have plagued the five-day gathering mean it is only likely to happen later in the day.

Newly elected ANC deputy president David Mabuza (left) and new party leader Cyril Ramaphosa (right) on 18 December 2017. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - New African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa is on Wednesday set to deliver his first speech as party leader when he delivers the closing address at the end of its 54th national conference.

While Ramaphosa was scheduled to speak at around noon, the delays and disputes that have plagued the five-day gathering mean it is only likely to happen later in the day.

Ramaphosa will speak after the announcement of the 80 new additional members of the ANC’s national executive committee, the make-up of which is likely to determine much of his power and ability as the president of the 105-year-old liberation movement.

The outcome of the national executive committee (NEC) elections is all the more important because it will show the balance of power in the highest decision-making body of the ANC between conferences.

Ramaphosa campaigned on the promise of a new deal that would break with the scandal-stained decade of Zuma’s tenure; his unsuccessful rival touted a populist programme of radical economic transformation.

While Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma lost, the faction that backed her won, with provincial power brokers of dubious reputation now in charge of running the ANC.

For Ramaphosa to roll out his plans for re-setting the ANC’s moral compass and breathing life into the economy, he will need a significant majority on the NEC.

But the unity song being sung and the deals being done at this conference make this unlikely.

The juggling of candidate lists intensified after the faction backing Dlamini Zuma won three of the top six posts.

The ANC’ new NEC could reflect a similar mix of people compromised by allegations of corruption, lethal politicking and incompetence and those who have spoken out against the state capture project of President Jacob Zuma and his associates.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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