Dilemma for South Africa’s deputy president

If Kgalema Motlanthe chooses to lock horns with President Zuma then things could get interesting on the political front.

South Africa’s deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe could be in a bit of a bind. Should he challenge President Jacob Zuma for the party leadership job or not?

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has its elective congress in less than a week, and South Africans want to know how things will unfold.

If Motlanthe chooses not to challenge Zuma, then his political career could be safe. He would most likely be re-elected deputy president for another five years.

But if he chooses to lock horns with his boss then things could get interesting on the political front.

He will most certainly be the underdog. Zuma has six provinces in the country backing him – Motlanthe just three (Limpopo, Western Cape and Gauteng).

He will have to do a lot of lobbying now, and during the conference in Mangaung, to emerge the victor. Anything can happen we could see a tight and exciting race.

If he loses, he runs the risk of being purged not out of the party, but the deputy president post.

I don’t think ANC officials would discard a man many see as a leader thought to be capable of uniting a divided party.

Is he willing to lose it all for a chance to be the head honcho of the ANC, or will he bide his time a few more years?

If he does challenge Zuma then wealthy business tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa could be nominated deputy president of the party.

That means maybe in 2014 when South Africa has an election he could be the next deputy president.

What kind of ANC will it be with Zuma and Ramaphosa at the helm. Will it take the country forwards or backwards?

The ANC conference in Mangaung might be sort of predictable in terms of who wins the presidency – but it’s not so clear cut when it comes to the deputy’s position.

The conference starts on 16 December.

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