54th National Conference of the African National Congress
4,776 party delegates
50% + 1 votes needed to win
The 54th National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC) took place from 16 to 20 December 2017 at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Nasrec, Gauteng. At the conference, the ANC elected its National Executive Committee (NEC) and other top internal leaders. Often referred to as the Nasrec Conference, it was held during the centenary of the birth of former ANC President Oliver Tambo and was convened under the theme, "Remember Tambo: Towards Unity, Renewal and Radical Socioeconomic Transformation."
On 18 December 2017, Cyril Ramaphosa, who had been deputy president of the ANC since 2012 and Deputy President of South Africa since 2014, was elected president of the ANC, narrowly defeating Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. On 15 February 2018, following Jacob Zuma's resignation, the National Assembly indirectly elected Ramaphosa, unopposed, as President of South Africa. As ANC President, Ramaphosa was the party's candidate for president in the 2019 South African general election, which the ANC won with 57.50% of the vote. Indeed, because of the ANC's entrenched electoral majority at the national level, every ANC President since Nelson Mandela has been elected president. The internal elections at the conference were hotly contested at least partly for that reason.
Jacob Zuma had been re-elected to a second five-year term as President of South Africa in 2014 and would be ineligible to stand for re-election in 2019. The ANC does not have internal presidential term limits, but Zuma had said as early as 2015 that he would step aside after two terms to allow the party to select a presidential candidate as his successor. In the run-up to the 54th National Conference, much of the campaigning was polarised by Zuma's controversial presidency, and especially by allegations that he had facilitated widespread state capture. In April 2017, there were nation-wide protests calling for Zuma's resignation, and by April a motion of no confidence had been tabled in Parliament, though it was narrowly defeated in August. However, Zuma and his allies retained substantial support, especially within certain party structures.
The National Union of Mineworkers endorsed Cyril Ramaphosa for the presidency in September 2016, and the Young Communist League of the South African Communist Party (SACP) endorsed him as early as January 2017. During the same period, Ramaphosa spoke out against corruption in his public addresses. However, internal ANC campaigning is rarely overt, and it is widely accepted that Ramaphosa did not publicly launch his campaign (though unofficially) until an SACP event, organised in memory of Chris Hani, in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape on 23 April 2017. Speaking at the event alongside Mcebisi Jonas, who had been fired as Deputy Finance Minister by Zuma shortly after making public claims about corruption in government, Ramaphosa criticised factionalism, patronage, and rent-seeking among state and party officials, and said that he would support a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture. Ramaphosa campaigned under the banner #CR17 Siyavuma, on a platform of anti-corruption and pro-industrialisation, pro-investment economic policies. His economic agenda was set out in his "10-Point Plan." He was supported by the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the SACP, as well as by politicians including Angie Motshekga and Pravin Gordhan.
The financing of Ramaphosa's campaign, which reportedly cost several hundred million rand, has more recently become the subject of various allegations against Ramaphosa. Most prominently, the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane implicated his campaign in financial misconduct. However, the Constitutional Court overturned her findings in July 2021.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had been the head of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, but in mid-2016 she announced that she would not stand for a second term, and she returned to South Africa in early 2017. She also received endorsements as early as January 2017, from the ANC Women's League, and on some accounts her supporters had been "lobbying openly" for her candidacy during 2016. She was also later endorsed by the ANC Youth League and the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans' Association. Dlamini-Zuma's campaign, under the banner #WeAreReady, centred on land redistribution, reform at the South African Reserve Bank, and economic transformation generally. Indeed, the ANC faction to which she was aligned was, and still is, sometimes referred to as the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction. "Radical economic transformation" was a longstanding policy slogan of the ANC, but was revived by Zuma in 2017 and subsequently was sometimes used by his allies to defend "rent-seeking practices" and the influence of the Gupta family. Thus, whereas Ramaphosa was taken as the anti-Zuma candidate, Dlamini-Zuma was seen as strongly aligned with her ex-husband and his allies.
Other presidential contenders
Although Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma were long considered the frontrunners, other ANC members who campaigned officially or unofficially for the Presidency included Lindiwe Sisulu (under the slogan "It's a Must"), Zweli Mkhize ("#AbantuBathi"), Mathews Phosa ("Saving the ANC"), Baleka Mbete, and Jeff Radebe. However, in early December 2017, following the ANC provincial general congresses, the party branches in Gauteng, Limpopo, the Northern Cape, the Eastern Cape, and the Western Cape nominated Ramaphosa for the presidency; KwaZulu-Natal, the North West, Mpumalanga, and the Free State nominated Dlamini-Zuma. At that point, a serious challenge from a third candidate became unlikely, although one could still have emerged during the conference if he or she was nominated from the floor and received substantial support. Shortly afterwards, Sisulu dropped out of the presidency contest to pursue the nomination she had received for the deputy presidency, and she ultimately joined Ramaphosa's slate. Mkhize was also nominated for the deputy presidency, but withdrew his candidacy amid rumours that he had made a deal with the Dlamini-Zuma faction. Mbete endorsed Ramaphosa at the start of the conference.
On the second day of the conference, delegates elected candidates for the "Top Six" leadership positions (president, deputy president, chairperson, secretary general, deputy secretary general and treasurer). Voting ran through the night on 17 to 18 December, and the results, announced on the evening of Monday 18 December, were as follows (victorious candidates in bold):
|Deputy President||David Mabuza||2,538||54.03%|
|National Chairperson||Gwede Mantashe||2,418||51.59%|
|Secretary General||Ace Magashule||2,360||50.26%|
|Deputy Secretary General||Jessie Duarte||2,474||52.78%|
|Treasurer General||Paul Mashatile||2,517||53.61%|
Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma had campaigned alongside slates of "preferred" candidates for the other Top Six positions. Of those elected, Gwede Mantashe and Paul Mashatile had run on the Ramaphosa slate; the other three winners campaigned with Dlamini-Zuma. Although all the races were close, the Secretary General contest was the tightest, with Free State Premier Ace Magashule winning by only 24 votes.
Election of the National Executive Committee
The other 80 members of the National Executive Committee were elected and announced at the end of the conference. 235 candidates appeared on the ballot sheets, and 4,283 ballots were cast among the 4,776 eligible voters. The committee as constituted at the conference has been described as evenly split between Zuma supporters and Ramaphosa supporters. Among the incumbents who failed to gain re-election were Communist Party leaders Blade Nzimande and Thulas Nxesi, head of the umKhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans' Association Kebby Maphatsoe, and party stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The following ten candidates received the most votes:
- Zweli Mkhize (2,550 votes)
- Lindiwe Zulu (2,280 votes)
- Reginah Mhaule
- David Masondo (2,076 votes)
- Malusi Gigaba (2,029 votes)
- Ronald Lamola
- Violet Siwela (2,009 votes)
- Zizi Kodwa (1,998 votes)
- Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (1,975 votes)
- Obed Bapela
Notable resolutions agreed at the Conference included that the ANC should pursue land expropriation without compensation as a matter of national policy, that the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank should be expanded, and that ANC members alleged to have been involved in corruption should "step aside" pending further investigation. The former two resolutions are considered triumphs of the so-called Radical Economic Transformation faction over the Ramaphosa-aligned faction, and the implementation of all three has been much contested.
- ^ a b c 54th National Conference: Report and resolutions (PDF). Johannesburg: African National Congress.
- ^ "Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected president of South Africa". Sunday Times. 15 February 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
- ^ "Zuma: I will never stand for a third term". The Mail & Guardian. 10 October 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Hogg, Alec (6 September 2017). "Paul O'Sullivan: #GuptaLeaks emails are authentic - arrests by Christmas". BizNews. Archived from the original on 6 September 2017.
- ^ "#Zumamustfall: Thousands march calling for Zuma to step down". Daily Maverick. 7 April 2017. Archived from the original on 9 April 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Theletsane, Winnie (8 August 2017). "Zuma survives no confidence vote". EWN. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
- ^ a b "NUM officially backs Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma as ANC president". The Mail & Guardian. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ George, Zine (19 January 2017). "YCL still stands by Ramaphosa". Sowetan. Archived from the original on 9 December 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Ramaphosa steps up to the plate ... at last". The Mail & Guardian. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Munusamy, Ranjeni (23 April 2017). "#CR2017, We Have Liftoff: Ramaphosa takes aim at Zuma, state capture". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Ramaphosa finally throws hat into the ring, slams Zuptas and ANC vote-buying". BizNews. 24 April 2017. Archived from the original on 11 June 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Ramaphosa 'launches' campaign with attack on Zuma, Guptas". Polity. 24 April 2017. Archived from the original on 7 December 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ a b c d e "ANC presidential race wide open". The Mail & Guardian. 1 September 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Ramaphosa: My New Deal for SA - and 10-point action plan for jobs, growth, transformation". BizNews. 14 November 2017. Archived from the original on 14 November 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Motshekga jumps off ANCWL's NDZ bandwagon, picks Ramaphosa". The Citizen. 3 December 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ a b Cotterill, Joseph (10 October 2017). "ANC looks to 'compromise' candidate to end toxic power struggle". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Haffajee, Ferial (25 August 2019). "How Ramaphosa's campaign spent R400-million — and why it matters". Daily Maverick. Archived from the original on 26 August 2019. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Mahlati, Zintle (5 October 2021). "Group's claims over CR17 funding 'a distraction' ahead of elections - ANC head of presidency". News24. Archived from the original on 5 October 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Stone, Setumo (1 July 2021). "Constitutional Court clears Ramaphosa on #CR17 funding issue". Citypress. Archived from the original on 1 July 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Maasho, Aaron (7 April 2016). "Dlamini-Zuma to step down from AU in July, linked to ANC leadership". Citypress. Archived from the original on 7 December 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Dlamini-Zuma may be appointed to Cabinet to ease succession". The Mail & Guardian. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ a b Merten, Marianne (9 October 2017). "ANC Leadership Race: Zweli Mkhize is Zuma's chosen one, Dlamini Zuma just a decoy, says Holomisa". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Derrick Spies (23 April 2017). "Ramaphosa 'launches' campaign with attack on Zuma, Guptas". News24. Archived from the original on 24 April 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
- ^ "What NDZ stands for". The Mail & Guardian. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ a b "ANC step-aside guidelines give full effect to Nasrec resolution, argues Trengove". The Citizen. 25 June 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Marrian, Natasha (5 August 2021). "Is it RIP for the RET brigade?". Business Day. Archived from the original on 5 August 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "RET is a splinter party established in Magashule's office, says ANC EC secretary". The Mail & Guardian. 23 March 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Bhorat, Haroon (2017). Betrayal of the promise: how South Africa is being stolen (PDF). State Capacity Research Project.
- ^ "'Let's embrace radical economic transformation'". The Mail & Guardian. 2 July 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Dot by dot, state capture emerges". The Mail & Guardian. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Lindiwe Sisulu's Campaign For ANC President Is A Progressive Socialist Movement". HuffPost UK. 3 October 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Baleka Mbete: I've been asked to lead the ANC". Business Day. 11 April 2016. Archived from the original on 7 December 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Zungu, Lungani (10 December 2017). "CR17 vs NDZ, it's going to go all the way". IOL. Archived from the original on 9 December 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Boost for Ramaphosa ahead of ANC vote as Sisulu drops out of the race". The East African. 18 August 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Hunter, Qaanitah (17 December 2017). "Why Zweli Mkhize declined deputy ANC president nomination". Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 18 December 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Zweli Mkhize: 'I endorsed no one and I cut no deal'". The Mail & Guardian. 18 December 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "D-day has arrived for Ramaphosa, Dlamini-Zuma and the future of the ANC". BusinessTech. 17 December 2017. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "Final list of candidates for top six ANC positions announced". Sunday Times. 17 December 2017. Archived from the original on 18 December 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- ^ a b c Nicolson, Greg (21 December 2017). "#ANCdecides2017: New NEC split down the middle". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ a b Campbell, John (21 December 2017). "Split in South Africa's National Congress May Not Last". Council on Foreign Relations. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ "The National Executive Committee | African National Congress". www.anc.org.za. Archived from the original on 23 April 2018. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
- ^ "Here is the ANC's new NEC". Citypress. 21 December 2017. Archived from the original on 7 December 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Merten, Marianne (31 May 2021). "Expropriation without compensation: ANC & EFF toenadering on state land custodianship — it's all about the politics". Daily Maverick. Archived from the original on 31 May 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ a b "Zuma 'reminds' ANC what they 'resolved' about the Reserve Bank at Nasrec". The Citizen. 6 June 2019. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- ^ Madia, Tshidi (30 June 2019). "ANC resolutions on Sarb, land and other matters will be my legacy - Ace Magashule on party policies". News24. Archived from the original on 7 December 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
- Official conference website