16/01/2017 13:37 SAST | Updated 16/01/2017 20:02 SAST

Ramaphosa, Dlamini-Zuma, Mbete — Here Are Your Potential Future Presidents

From Zweli Mkhize to Jeff Radebe, David Mabuza, Lindiwe Sisulu and Ace Magashule — these are the people touted to ascend to the top position of ANC president after the party's elective conference in December.

The ANC top six during the party's 105th birthday celebrations.
Frennie Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images
The ANC top six during the party's 105th birthday celebrations.

The African National Congress (ANC) is preparing for its elective conference at the end of the year, and slates are making the rounds with the names of those favoured to lead the organisation out of the doldrums.

The ANC has appealed to members to avoid throwing names around and rather to focus on the qualities that are needed to ensure the party emerges from the process united. However that has not stopped the naming dropping and individual endorsements.

These are the frontrunners tipped to take over from current party president Jacob Zuma.

Cyril Ramaphosa:

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Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa started off as a trade unionist and was a founder of the National Union of Mineworkers. He made his way into politics and played a significant role in ushering in the peaceful transition to democracy alongside Nelson Mandela. He was elected the secretary-general of the ANC in 1991.

He resigned from his political positions in January 1997 and joined the private sector, becoming a billionaire in the process but remaining part of the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC). He returned to active politics to become Zuma's deputy in 2012 at the party's Mangaung elective conference. He is now being touted for the top position to replace Zuma with the backing of Cosatu and the SACP. He has come out and said he would be honoured to be asked to lead the organisation.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma:

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Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

As the outgoing chairperson of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is tipped as a strong challenger to Ramaphosa, with pockets of the party calling for a female president. She left her position as the Minister of Home Affairs for the AU with much fanfare. She has since amassed massive respect on the continent and within the organisation and some believe she is the answer to the current ANC leadership conundrum.

The ANC Woman's League, as well as the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), have thrown their weight behind her. Zuma has indirectly backed her by saying the country is ready for a female president and that it's not a tradition for a deputy to ascend to the top position.

Zweli Mkhize:

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Zweli Mkhize

Former KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize is currently the treasurer-general of the ANC and has a strong following in the province. He is being seen as a potential running mate for Ramaphosa at the elective conference. He is also seen as a dark horse with certain factions in KZN saying he should run for the top position.

He has been playing his cards close to his chest and keeping within the confides of the party's call not to start the succession debate. In a recent interview on Khaya FM, he refused to raise his hand clearly but rather urged members to follow the party guidelines of discussing the principles and issues facing the organisation instead of candidates' names.

Kgalema Motlanthe:

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Kgalema Motlanthe

Kgalema Motlanthe tasted the role of president when he replaced Thabo Mbeki in 2008 following the Polokwane conference when Zuma emerged as the victor. He is seen as a principled man who would be able to achieve the vision of a united ANC. He is being touted as the alternative to the Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma battle for the presidency.

Lindiwe Sisulu:

Lindiwe Sisulu

Lindiwe Sisulu is seen as the ideal female candidate for president if Dlamini-Zuma does not get the nod for the position. She has been a member of Parliament since 1994 and is currently the Minister of Human Settlements. She has served as the minister of Defence and Military Veterans as well as of Public Service and Administration.

David Mabuza:

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David Mabuza

David "DD" Mabuza, the Premier of Mpumalanga, has been involved in the provincial legislature since the dawn of democracy. His supporters have been calling for him to ascend to the national office of the ANC and ultimately serve in the top six.

His name has been linked with the Dlamini-Zuma slate as deputy president but, like Mkhize, he is regarded as a dark horse for the position of president. His apparent involvement with the "premier league" might be seen by others as going against the call to unify the party; that's the group which includes Ace Magashule and Supra Mahumapelo and is seen as a lobbying machine that has been effective since Mangaung.

Ace Magashule:

Gallo Images / Sowetan / Mduduzi Ndzingi
Ace Magashule

Free State Premier Ace Magashula has seen his name thrown into the hat for the position of president. There has been a slate that has circulated with Magashula at the top and Dlamini-Zuma as the deputy; his compatriot in the "premier league" Mabuza would then get the position of national chairperson.

Baleka Mbete:

Baleka Mbete

The party's national chairperson told The Sunday Times that she has been asked to run for the president position and she is ready to do so. In the interview, she indicated that she had been "approached by many" party structures to run and, after agonising for a long time over it, decided to make herself available.

She has previously served as the deputy president of the country and fits in with the call for a female president.

Jeff Radebe:

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Jeff Radebe

The name of Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe has appeared on the Ramaphosa slate and he could fill in the position of deputy president. Radebe is among the respected figures within the organisation. He has previously served as the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development.

With lists already circulating, it is going to be extremely difficult for the ANC to rid itself of this tradition and emerge united from the elective conference. The call for unity might just have fallen on deaf ears.