Outgoing ANC president Jacob Zuma has expressed confidence in all seven presidential hopefuls.
Speaking at his last gala dinner as party leader in Nasrec, south of Johannesburg on Friday night, Zuma said the abnormally long list of candidates for his position demonstrated that the ANC was democratic.
“Have you ever had an organisation that is so open and matured? Never. Seven candidates for president. It demonstrates that we have enough talent. Anyone of these, you can take and put [in the presidency].”
Zweli Mkhize, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Lindiwe Sisulu, Cyril Ramaphosa, Mathews Phosa, Baleka Mbete and Jeff Radebe have all put their names in the hat for the top positions. The leading contenders, Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa, were seen embracing and posing for photos.
Zuma assured the business elite who attended the prestigious event that the party would remain united after the conference. “Everything has been done to ensure a smooth and successful conference,” he added.
He gushed about the ANC as a transparent, democratic and open organisation. Zuma echoed his past sentiments that whomever emerged as the winner must be supported by all the candidates.
“I’m sure they are not going to disappoint you. They know the principles of the African National Congress (ANC)… As the seven, once one of them is elected, they will all unite behind that person. That is what is expected of the members of the ANC in good standing,” he said.
Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign suffered major blows on Friday, with court judgments potentially costing her more than a hundred votes.
The KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg granted the provincial executive committee (PEC) the right to appeal a ruling disbanding the committee, but the court ruled the PEC’s members could not cast their votes at the conference, denying the province 27 votes.
In the North West, the Bojanala regional conference was set aside. The court there further ruled that the branch general meetings of 38 branches, held between October and November for the election of delegates to attend the Nasrec conference, were irregular, invalid and unconstitutional.
The majority of these votes were expected to go to Dlamini-Zuma.