September 7, 2007

Ramaphosa says not interested in presidency / ANC Youth want Zuma in top party job

South African businessman Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that he had "no interest" in becoming the country's president after a report that he had entered the race. "As I have said in the past, I have no interest in standing for this position," Ramaphosa said in a statement. The Sunday Times newspaper said one of the ruling African National Congress' (ANC) most powerful regions, the O.R. Tambo district in Eastern Cape province, would nominate Ramaphosa for the presidency. According to the newspaper, regional ANC officials had approached Ramaphosa as a unity candidate to avoid what many expect to be a divisive battle between Mbeki and Zuma, once the frontrunner to become post-apartheid South Africa's third president. Ramaphosa, a former trade unionist, was the ANC's chief negotiator during talks that led to a peaceful end to apartheid in 1994. He left politics in 1996 after having lost to Mbeki in the race to replace Mandela as president.
Before, the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League had officially announced its top six candidates to lead the ruling party, a list understood to be endorsed by a faction said to support ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma. Businessmen Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramaphosa, punted as compromise candidates, are absent from the list, suggesting that the presidential succession race is still between President Thabo Mbeki and Zuma. Youth League President Fikile Mbalula said its candidates, headed up by Zuma as president, would address the challenges facing the ruling party and South Africa. "Every leader has his own strengths. Nelson Mandela reconciled the country and President Mbeki brought further stability. Zuma can take it further and unify the ANC and address poverty," he said. The league said it would back Zuma if he is again charged with corruption. Mbalula repeated the league's position that "justice delayed is justice denied", referring to the decade-long investigation of Zuma.
The league's other candidates are ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe for deputy president, South African Communist Party (SACP) chairman Gwede Mantashe for secretary-general, Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for chairwoman, National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete for deputy secretary-general, and former Mpumalanga premier Mathews Phosa for treasurer-general. (Business Day, Johannesburg / Rts)

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