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A limping Ramaphosa faces an ANC NEC divided over choice of coalition partners

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Simon Nare

President Cyril Ramaphosa is under siege both inside and outside the ANC as the governing party’s failure to get an outright majority in the 2024 National and Provincial Elections, forces it into coalition talks that could further divide it at the crucial National Executive Committee (NEC) sit down this week.

Already weakened after the national and provincial election results, Ramaphosa is all but going to face a hostile reception from some members of the NEC who may call for his head and ask him to step down.

The ANC NEC meeting was scheduled for Tuesday but has since been pushed to Thursday because of the  National Working Committee (NWC) as well as official meetings, nationally, that had to take place after the elections.

As coalition becomes the buzzword in South African politics, ANC NEC members appear to be divided on who should the ANC go to bed with after the party failed to get the outright majority it has enjoyed since 1994.

One NEC member who spoke to Inside Politics on condition of anonymity made it clear that a coalition between the ANC and some other party or parties was inevitable given the party’s dismal performance at the polls.

The member said it was clear from the election results that the people did not want to be led by Ramaphosa so why would he want to continue leading, he asked?.

The member predicted a stand-off between NEC members who will side with Ramaphosa and those who believe that he should go the same way that some in the party decided when former President Jacob Zuma performed dismally after poor election results.

The member said Ramaphosa should not even wait to be told and should know that because people didn’t vote for him, therefore they didn’t like him.

“Ramaphosa is not supposed to be in the equation. Ramaphosa is supposed to know personally without being told that he lost the national vote. That people in South Africa don’t like me. 

“Why would you want to lead people who do not like you because people who like you should have voted for you,” asked the member.

At the center of the stand-off expected at the NEC meeting would be a push by those who are in support of an ANC/DA coalition that is understood to be what Ramaphosa is warming up to. 

While describing the pro-Ramaphosa group as the Stellenbosch group which is bent on weakening the ANC and letting the DA take over, the member said: “The new dawn has no other agenda other than to weaken the ANC so that the ANC can be collapsed into the DA. 

“This has been since 2017 and look at what has happened since then. I will never work with the DA. That will never happen,” vowed the member who pointed out that ideologically there was nothing that could bring the two together.

The member said it could not be that a liberation movement could work with an ultra-right wing party and described the DA as a white supremacist organisation.

Publicly some of the NEC members who have come out since the announcement of the results have denounced the idea of a DA coalition with former Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu likening the prospect to pissing on the graves of liberation struggle heroes.

Sisulu is reported to have proposed an agreement with black parties under what she termed a “Black Pact” to counter the likely DA/ANC coalition.

“A coalition (with DA) will be a betrayal of those who strictly voted for the ANC. ANC supporters voted for their beloved party and not the DA. If they were fans of the DA, they would have voted as such and yet they have not.

“Black history in South Africa is painful and many still bear the scars just like a marriage between the ANC and the DA may not help with the healing process of this beautiful nation,” Sisulu told The Star newspaper.

On the contrary, ANC’s head of the party’s election committee and former Deputy President Kgalema Motlhanthe was quoted in a Sunday newspaper saying that as long as the ANC and the DA can iron-out policy differences then they can go to bed together.

Motlanthe, however, pointed out that the ANC needs to be wary of the DA’s racism doctrine which believes in white supremacism.

Although not mentioning Zuma’s MK Party by name, Motlanthe discouraged any alliance between the two parties, saying such parties (like the MK) were against the constitution which is the supreme law of the country, he said.

He cautioned against a marriage with any party that sought to undermine the constitution by putting the death penalty and the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank as a condition. But said any coalition with the ANC would have to deal with the land, a “source of national grievance”.

Yet the NEC member who spoke to Inside Politics said the concept that an ANC/DA coalition would bring about stability in the country was disingenuous since the elections were largely conducted peacefully.

The member was rather in support of either the EFF or MK coalition agreement and totally dismissed any engagement with the IFP.

“Now IF the EFF says ok we will help you, the MK says we will help you to get to a two-thirds majority now what is wrong with that?,” asked the member.

The NEC member pointed out that Zuma was removed because of poor election results and Ramaphosa too should bite the bullet.

“We removed Zuma in 2018 because of the election performance of 2016 so Cyril is supposed to just remove himself,” he said.

As the clock is ticking for the crucial NEC meeting, the alliance partners have not come out vocally batting for Ramaphosa either.

Both Cosatu and SACP have said coalition talks were ongoing and they wouldn’t want to comment on the issues.

But it was reported that Cosatu secretary-general Solly Phetoe has warned  the ANC against any coalition agreement with the DA.

Cosatu, in a statement said, it supported Ramaphosa leading the party and the country after the elections despite the poor results.

But it feels like the knives will be out for Ramaphosa at the NEC meeting and his grip on the structure tested to the hilt.

Externally, some political parties are setting in motion moves and jostling to get him since the ANC has lost its majority in Parliament and he will not have the numbers to shield him as it has happened in the past. 

The Freedom Front Plus now wants the Phala Phala report back in the National Assembly. It’s not clear on what basis since ANC MPs used their majority to shut it down.

The same report is heading to the Constitutional Court after the apex court agreed to listen to the EFF’s argument that the Parliamentary Panel Report recommendations must be implemented. 

Parliament appointed a panel of judges consisting of retired Justice Sandile Ngcobo, retired Judge Thokozile Masipa and Advocate Mahlape Sello, to investigate the Phala Phala saga, and found that Ramaphosa had a case to answer. 

But the ANC MPs used their numbers in the National Assembly to render the report’s recommendations null and void.

Ramaphosa might survive the ANC internal battles but he still faces a war outside his party as his enemies in the opposition benches brace themselves for combat to oust him.

INSIDE POLITICS

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