The step-aside rule of the ANC has aided President Cyril Ramaphosa to be ahead of his opponents within the ANC – but it’s the work of his ground forces that has consolidated his power base and political influence.
Since late last year and the beginning of this year, Ramaphosa had been consolidating his provincial support and has clearly targeted KwaZulu-Natal and Free State.
According to political analyst, professor Dirk Kotze, he has solid support in the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape, Limpopo and Gauteng and a predominant following in KZN.
“Ramaphosa’s approach was that he wants to work with the KZN leadership and Sihle [Zikalala] and his PEC [provincial executive committee] support him,” Kotze said.
Now the problematic Free State and North West provincial executive committees have been replaced with interim provincial committees (IPCs), which have members from both factions.
The appointment of the IPCs eroded suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and Supra Mahumapelo’s power bases and influence on their home turfs.
Ramaphosa also has institutional strength with North West premier Job Mokgoro on his side.Nationally it is said that no leader can win a battle without ANC national chair Gwede Mantashe’s backing.
Mantashe is a strategist and a confrontational fighter. Jacob Zuma survived for nine years in power, including escaping a series of parliamentary no-confidence motions, as Mantashe and the late Jackson Mthembu fought for him.
Now as party national chairperson, he is positioned to protect Ramaphosa. His bulldozer tactics have been credited for helping to resolve a crises in the party and control the radical economic transformation (RET) forces.
Fikile Mbalula is another former Zuma henchman who, like Mantashe, switched sides and turned on the RET forces. He took Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association president Kebby Maphatsoe and spokesperson Carl Niehaus head on on Twitter.
ANC economic transformation subcommittee chair Enoch Godongwana, Ramaphosa’s longtime ally, is a leading light in defending Ramaphosa’s economic policies. He defended the non-implementation of the resolution on nationalisation of the SA Reserve Bank.
Ramaphosa’s team also includes national executive committee members Joel Netshitenzhe, Derek Hanekom and the premiers of Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.
According to Kotze, that the ANC succeeded in suspending Magashule was an indication that Ramaphosa was in a stronger position than the RET or the Zuma-Magashule faction.
Another analyst, professor Susan Booysen said indications were that the ANC Women’s League was slowly slipping out of the grip of the Zuma faction while the ANC Youth League was leaning well towards Ramaphosa.