22/12/2017 14:21 SAST | Updated 22/12/2017 14:21 SAST

New President; Same ANC Leaders

A close analysis of the newly elected list of 80 national executive committee members reveals that 44 of them served on the NEC under Zuma.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
President Jacob Zuma at the ANC's 54th national conference.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa may be the party's new leader, but its highest decision-making body consists mostly of the same people who served under the party leadership of State President Jacob Zuma.

A close analysis of the newly elected list of 80 national executive committee (NEC) members reveals that 44 of them served on the NEC under Zuma between 2012 and 2017.

That means that 55 percent of the previous NEC was reelected at the party's national conference earlier this week.

And there certainly are some rotten apples on the list. For instance:

  • Tony Yengeni –– who has a history of criminal charges and convictions against his name, including one that saw him serve prison time for fraud.
  • Mduduzi Manana –– recently convicted of three counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm after he beat up three women at a Fourways nightclub.
  • Collen Maine –– there are allegations that the controversial Gupta family has lent Maine a helping hand when it comes to paying the R140,000-per-month bond on his trendy golf-estate home.
  • Bathabile Dlamini –– described as the architect of the Sassa crisis that jeopardised the social benefits of 17-million South Africans.
  • Bongani Bongo –– currently facing allegations of attempting to bribe the evidence leader in the Eskom inquiry into state capture.
  • Faith Muthambi –– allegedly sent confidential government policy documents to one of the Gupta brothers.
  • Pule Mabe –– embroiled in allegations of improper tender scandals and benefits at Prasa.

In a recent statement, the DA said the "unashamed" inclusion of such names in the new NEC shows that the ANC's promises of self-correction "were a myth".

"[Ramaphosa] built his campaign on the idea that cutting the head off the snake will kill it, but instead the snake has simply shed its skin," the party said.

Perhaps the DA has a point –– Zuma still has a tight grasp on the party.

READ: Zuma's Grip On The ANC Still Tight As A Vice.

Thirty-six of the newly elected NEC officials were from the Dlamini-Zuma slate (which can be argued to be the Zuma slate as well). Ramaphosa only secured 29. Seven members appeared on both slates ahead of the election, and eight appeared on neither.

It's a mixed batch of members, divided between provinces that supported Ramaphosa and those that were backing Dlamini-Zuma.

Majority always wins in the NEC, and Ramaphosa is on the back foot, because Zuma's allies have the numbers. The support for the state president in the NEC is strong –– he has kept many of its members out of trouble.

Ramaphosa has his work cut out for him –– he promised an ANC without corruption; one that oozes good governance and credibility. But his NEC is a contradiction.

And opposition parties won't let him forget it. The battle for 2019 begins.