Cape Town — In South Africa the constitution does not allow for its citizens to choose a president. It relies solely on a few men and women who are nominated into the inner circle of the African National Congress, known as the National Executive Council, to make that decision for its citizens.
The African National Congress (ANC) has always been coy about revealing names of nominees for the presidency. However, it seems "party protocol lines" have blurred in the face of corruption scandals involving President Jacob Zuma, the State of Capture reports, the Nkandla pay-back-the-money saga, and the reported influence of the Gupta family in government matters.
While Cyril Ramaphosa has for a long time been a strong, credible contender, he could be considered a "comeback kid" after quitting politics and going into business. Coming back to the fore is Matthews Phosa who faded into the background when he was replaced as party treasurer-general. He has recently accepted his nomination to stand for the party presidency.
Zweli Mkhize the party's National Treasurer, seems to be a well-connected politician who may use this influence to garner support if he decides to put his hand up for the nomination.
The party has had a tough time identifying women who would be able to stand as nominees for the country's highest office.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has strong political credentials but it appears that her being the former wife of President Jacob Zuma will not help her cause, as the president is reeling under numerous corruption allegations. She also accepted her nomination as a candidate without following the party protocols and this has raised eyebrows. It would seem her campaign may be tainted just as it takes off.
Another possible contender is Lindiwe Sisulu, the daughter of struggle stalwarts Walter and Albertina Sisulu. Some are of the opinion that she has not made a real, effective difference in her various portfolios that included public enterprises where she won few friends with labour, defence and military veterans where she called for the banning of unions in the military and housing, where housing backlogs were never tackled effectively. She has in recent times been very vocal on what the African National Congress has been doing wrong in its administration and has been hesitant to say whether she would stand as a candidate. Only time will tell...
Despite the cloud after Marikana and his apologies after speaking out against decisions taken by President Jacob Zuma, (Ramaphosa seems the favourite candidate). He has his work cut out for him though... get rid of deadwood politicians, clear his Cabinet of corruption, stop apologising to appease the party and lead the nation with integrity.
Here is a bit more detail on the candidates:
Born November 17, 1952 (64 years old)
1981 - Qualified as an attorney. He completed his articles in the same year and joined the National Council of Trade Unions of South Africa (Cusa) as an advisor in the legal department.
He became an adviser to the National Council of Mines who asked him to establish a new mining union, National Union of Mineworkers
1983 - He made a huge impact on the mining sector proving himself to be an excellent negotiator when miners went on strike for better pay and working conditions, bringing the South African economy very close to collapse
1991 - Ramaphosa went on to become a member of the team that negotiated a peaceful transition from the Apartheid system to a democratic dispensation. He was also instrumental in drafting the constitution of the country, together with Roelf Meyer of the National Party that was in power for over 40 years
1999 - Ramaphosa lost out on the presidency to Thabo Mbeki. He left politics and went on to pursue business interests that included purchasing MacDonald's South Africa and held positions on several boards, including Unilever Africa and Coca-Cola
2012 - He made a surprise return to politics and was soon appointed as deputy president
Ramaphosa has made several speeches condemning state capture and decisions taken by the president, including the firing of the then finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.
Controversy around the Marikana mining massacre where hundreds of miners lost their lives will come back to haunt him as the election race begins as emails he sent instructing the police on actions to be taken, were leaked to the media.
Born February 2, 1956 (61 years old)
1987 - Qualified as a medical doctor
1994 - Commissioner for Health in KwaZulu Natal
2009 - 2013 - Premier KwaZulu Natal
2012 - ANC Treasurer
A medical doctor by profession, Mkhize a former KwaZulu-Natal premier, is currently Treasurer-General of the African National Congress. He rose steadily through the party ranks since 1991. He is thought to be the strongest competition for Cyril Ramaphosa for the nomination for the presidency. He has strong political affiliations and his family has deep roots in the political sphere in KwaZulu-Natal. He is also a close friend of President Jacob Zuma.
Mkhize has been involved in a number of scandals regarding tenders for kickbacks and selling of government shares in companies with allegations surfacing that proceeds were embezzled. Allegations that he denied. The U.S. State Department has said that Mkhize was being investigated for violence and political killings in Pietermaritzburg in the 1980's but he has never been charged.
Born September 1, 1952 (64 years old)
The former premier of Mpumalanga, Matthews Phosa, a qualified attorney, is the former ANC treasurer-general who was sidelined after losing a deputy presidency nomination to Cyril Ramaphosa. He is still a member of the National Executive Committee of the party.
1990 he was one of the first four members of the ANC to enter South Africa from exile in order to start the process of negotiation with the National Party government.
1994 -1995 - Premier of Mpumalanga
2001 - Phosa, together with Cyril Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale were investigated on suspicion that that wanted to oust Thabo Mbeki. They were cleared.
2012 - Ran unsuccessfully for the post of ANC Deputy President losing to Cyril Ramaphosa
2017 - On June 11, Phosa officially announced his intention to seek the Presidential nomination in December 2017
Phosa has been a consultant for various national and international businesses and sits on several boards, including that of the University of South Africa
Born 27 January 1949 (68 years old)
1971 - Obtained a BSc Degree from University of Zululand and went on to study medicine at the University of Natal
1976 - Member of South African Students Organisation, elected its deputy president
1976 - Exiled
1978 - Qualified as a medical doctor at the University of Bristol in the UK
1979 - Worked as a doctor at the Mbabane Government Hospital in Swaziland, where she met her future husband, current President Jacob Zuma
1994 - 1999 - Health Minister
1999 - 2009 - Foreign Affairs Minister
2009 - 2012 - Home Affairs Minister
2012 - 2017 - Former AU Chairperson
Dlamini-Zuma is also the former wife of President Jacob Zuma, something that has made people in general question her credibility amid fears that if she was the first woman president, that she would tow the party line and be controlled by the former president. She has publicly accepted the nomination to run for the presidency, a move that has been frowned upon within African National Congress circles.
Some blights in her career included a 1995 HIV/Aids awareness programme that saw a friend awarded R14,5 Million to produce a sequel to the musical 'Sarafina'. It was found that Dlamini-Zuma lied to parliament about its funding. She was also criticised for supporting an HIV/Aids 'remedy' called Virodene.
While Foreign Affairs Minister, her 'quiet diplomacy' on Zimbabwe and violent land invasions there was widely criticised.
Born 10 May 1954 (63 years old)
1973 - Graduated from Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa in Mbabane, Swaziland
1980 - Received a BA degree and Diploma in Education
1981 - Received a BA Hons in History from the University of Swaziland also receiving an MA in History
1989 - MPhil from the Centre for Southern African Studies at the University of York
2004 - 2009 - Served as Minister of Housing
2009 - 2012 - Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
2012 - 2014 - Minister of Public Service and Administration
2014-present Human Settlements Minister
Sisulu has been unwilling to divulge whether she would be standing for presidential nomination at the elective conference in December 2017, although many believe that she would be a strong contender.