Newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. FILE PHOTO: David Ritchie/ANA PHOTO

The new president of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC), Cyril Ramaphosa, has a tough job ahead of him -- sticking to his anti-corruption stance while at the same time building unity in a deeply divided party. 

That's according to author and political commentator Zubeida Jaffer who on Monday night spoke on SABC (SA Broadcasting Corporation) television alongside an ally of President Jacob Zuma, Lindiwe Zulu, the small business development minister.

"He will have difficulties....and he will have to find a way to keep his word [to fight corruption and state capture] while at the same time not disrupting the efforts at unity. That will be a tough thing to do," Jaffer told the broadcaster.

She believed that if the ANC was serious about winning the general elections in 2019, after it lost several key municipalities in the 2015 municipal elections, it would have to ask Zuma, who is at the centre of corruption and state capture allegations, to step aside.

"From what I understand, if Cyril Ramaphosa committed himself to a clean-up and moving forward, I sense that there will have to be change by February before Parliament opena and that we would have to be a fresh start," said Jaffer. 

Three of the six people elected to the ANC's top six positions are Zuma allies. They include Ramaphosa's deputy David Mabuza, secretary general Ace Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte, which could make things harder for the new party president.

Zulu said any discussion on Zuma's presidency should be left to the ANC leadership, stressing Ramaphosa was part of a collective and could not take decisions on his own.

"I cannot speak for the president and say this is the decision he is going to make," Zulu said, refusing to be drawn on whether the Zuma will resign if asked to, to avoid there being two centres of power -- Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg where Ramaphosa will lead, and the Presidency.

"When something like this is put on the table, it shall be put through the process of discussion not just by the national executive committee but also by the structures of the ANC. I cannot as a member fo the ANC say this is exactly what's going to happen."

The two women, however, agreed that Ramaphosa would have to put poor citizens of the country first. Jaffer said Ramapohosa should use his position to get business on board in the project to stop the suffering of jobless, hungry South Africans.

"I would like to see how he is going to use his influence as a very respected person and going to say to business it's time you come to the party...I would like to see that as a priority, besides state capture and other issues," she said.

"We cannot continue to see people scratching in bins, people not eating and not having jobs."

Zulu said the ANC should be at the forefront of setting the pace to stamp out poverty, unemployment and inequality, instead of bickering over leadership.

"The bottom line is that people, black people in particular, women in particular, youth in particular, don't have jobs...."

- African News Agency (ANA)