Cyril Ramaphosa’s choice of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to handle the “dirty job” of sorting out North West governance issues is a great strategic move and a recognition by the president of her experience in resolving conflict situations, say political analysts and ANC insiders.
Dlamini-Zuma stepped up to the plate in response to a vote of confidence in her by Ramaphosa, who assigned her the mammoth task of leading a high-profile Cabinet task team to sort out the collapsed North West provincial administration.
The process is linked to calls for beleaguered Premier Supra Mahumapelo to resign and complaints about lack of service delivery under his administration.
Dlamini-Zuma’s deployment is seen as a double-edged sword being used by the president to legitimise any decision that may not favour Mahumapelo, who faces imminent axing.
Political analyst Andre Duvenhage argued that, as she identified with Mahumapelo in the recent ANC presidential race, Dlamini-Zuma would be acceptable to his followers.
“Ramaphosa is a strategist. For him, it is important to remove Mahumapelo but still have a stable ANC,” Duvenhage said.
She was a good choice to do the “dirty” job to absolve Ramaphosa from any blame from his opponents. If she successfully executed her task as Ramaphosa’s “hit-person”, she might be given similar assignments in other rebellious provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and even the factionalised Mpumalanga.
According to Duvenhage, by agreeing to be used as a battering ram against Ramaphosa’s opponents, Dlamini-Zuma would prove a point that the ANC is more important than factional alignment.
Another analyst, Dumisani Hlophe, believed Dlamini-Zuma was given the task due to her experience in handling conflict situations within the ANC.
He cited an instance when she was sent by then president Jacob Zuma to KwaZulu-Natal to investigate allegations of irregularities emanating from ANC councillor list processes prior to the 2011 local government elections. Her report was submitted and accepted by the ANC.
“It would be easy to assume that she was chosen for the North West task because Supra supported her presidential campaign and, therefore, she must go and clean up the mess caused by him.
“But my take on it is that it could be recognition by Ramaphosa of her experience in dealing with issues like these. He knows she is experienced in this area,” Hlophe said.
Dlamini-Zuma is respected by many as a committed cadre of the ANC and a true team player. Even during her ANC presidential campaign last year, Dlamini-Zuma avoided fighting a factional campaign against Ramaphosa, a fact that was always emphasised by her former campaign team member, Carl Niehaus.
Duvenhage said she was a good choice for the task because Mahumapelo and his followers trusted her as one of their own and any decision she made would be acceptable to them.
“It is a good strategy by Ramaphosa to have Nkosazana lead because a reaction towards her will be more favourable in the North West ANC than if the process was led by a Ramaphosa supporter,” he said.