On Tuesday 22 November, the party released names elected by its 4,000 branches to contest national leadership positions at the ANC Elective Conference in December.

With 2,037 nominations it seems inevitable that Ramaphosa will get his wish, but the spectre of the Phala Phala scandal looms over him. Disgraced former Minister of Health, the vibey Zweli Mkhize, is openly challenging him. Mkhize garnered 916 nominations and is the only real contender to Ramaphosa. 

/Phala Phala/

President Ramaphosa’s private game farm and the scene of the $4 million theft that former DG of the State Security Agency and Commissioner of Correctional Services, Arthur Fraser, is trying to get answers about.

Tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Ramaphosa’s former presidential opponent, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, were visibly absent from the ticket. 

The added snub of Mmamoloko Kubayi, who was vying for the deputy presidency, has many wondering whether the ANC is as committed to gender equality as it claims. The only women nominated are Nomvula Mokonyane and Febe Potgieter for the position of Deputy Secretary General. 

Paul Mashatile emerged as the deputy presidential nominee with the most nominations (1,791). According to Standard Bank Research political economic analyst Simon Freemantle, the former Premier of Gauteng is seen as a more decisive leader than Ramaphosa.

Nominations media briefing

Is a Ramaphosa repeat a safe bet?

2022 has been a challenging year for Ramaphosa. In June, the former chief of the South African State Security Agency, the nation’s intelligence agency, Arthur Fraser, lodged a criminal complaint against President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

In a 12-page sworn statement supported by images, papers, and surveillance video of the alleged theft, Fraser accused Ramaphosa of kidnapping, bribery, money laundering, and “concealing a crime” regarding the alleged theft of $4 million from his Phala Phala Farm. 

The scandal and findings from the ongoing investigations could shake up Ramaphosa’s plans for a second term. The presidency has said that CR would “step aside if criminally charged”. So, no, Cyril isn’t safe. Far from it. 

His political rivals have used this to their advantage (or detriment, really), with Sisulu as recently as two weeks ago stating that Ramaphosa should “lead by example” and step aside if he is guilty. 

“They made me look like an animal, feral”

– Former President Jacob Zuma

The ANC remains a party divided. On the one hand, there is the Radical Economic Transformation faction led by people like former president Jacob Zuma and Ace Magashule, who want Ramaphosa out. 

“It was quite a statement, and much as I did not take much care of what people say about me — they made me look like an animal, feral — I thought this was very serious, because he was a man who had been part of government, number two in the country,” Zuma said recently of Ramaphosa. 

While Mkhize doesn’t seem to be aligned with any faction, whether the RET forces will lobby for him come the December conference remains to be seen. South Africans will watch the conference anxiously (if the media can even get in). 

This conference could make or break the ANC as we know it.