By Rofhiwa Madzena
If there’s one person you should be watching at the 54th National Conference of the ANC it is the Premier of Mpumalanga, David Mabuza, the kingmaker.
Mabuza is vital in deciding who could be the next president of the ANC in the battle between Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. In an interview with CNBC Africa he said: “no matter who wins the presidency tomorrow, we will work together with the new president, as a party, to ensure that we sew the divisions and return the African National Congress (ANC) to its former glory.”.
Speaking to CNBC Africa before the plenary session at the 54th National Conference of the ANC began, Mabuza also highlighted that “the conference is not about any one person but rather about the party emerging as a unit at the end of the session”.
This, even as Mabuza, with the backing of his province, has come out in full support of presidential hopeful, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who has been described by many at the conference as the preferred candidate.
The ANC’s race for the presidency is close and unpredictable but the race for the deputy presidency is not as Mabuza is the party’s favourite to take up the position of the deputy presidency, something presidential candidate Dlamini-Zuma has given him should she receive the most votes after the nomination process. “It is my hope that the votes will not be disputed after the nomination process has been finalised because it is a possibility but it may take us back as a movement.”
As the delegates made their way into the plenary, they were met with raucous song and dance by the different branches. Mabuza formed a part of the many delegates who cheered as Dlamini-Zuma made her way into the session and joined the singing.
The opening session kicked off with songs of unity. Multi-faith prayers with religious leaders who made an impassioned plea for the party to emerge united not for itself and its benefactors but for the people who trusted the party to take South Africa forward.
The session convened under the theme, ‘Remembering Tambo’, the former president of the ANC.