“Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mask no mistakes, mask no failures and claim no easy victories. But more importantly, do not tell lies.”
These were the parting words presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa left delegates of Cosatu’s central committee sitting with yesterday morning. Ironically the four-day sitting is taking place at the very same hotel where ANC national executive committee members sat last weekend and opted yet again not to remove President Jacob Zuma.
Defying the president, who warned NEC members not to “push him too far” by attacking him in public, Ramaphosa was firing on all cylinders as he gave a taste of what can be expected from him in the coming six months as the countdown to elect a new president for the ANC begins.
If you listen to nothing else that he says in the next few months, Ramaphosa really wants you to know that he is pushing back against the capture of the state by “a certain individual and family”.
This is the refrain that would make the lead single for a compilation of his greatest hits. It is unclear if any names will ever be attached to the individual or family. But for now the “sub tweeting” of Zuma and the Guptas will have to do.
The refrain was first mentioned when the deputy president addressed the Black Business Council in Sandton last month. It was his first address since the rap on the knuckles he received after publicly speaking out against Zuma’s midnight Cabinet reshuffle.
“We will not allow the institutions of our state to be captured by families and individuals intent on narrow self-enrichment,” he told the men and women clad in expensive evening wear.
On that occasion Ramaphosa also went full-blown populist, saying of radical economic transformation: “Those who are questioning it must sit down and smell the coffee. The transformation of the economy is non-negotiable, there is nothing abstract about radical economic transformation.”
In an about turn, Ramaphosa has ditched radical economic transformation and adopted inclusive growth instead. Yesterday he told the central committee that there was something insincere about radical economic transformation.
“This concept can’t simply be a reckless rhetoric and put out an empty promise that is intended to hide and to sweep under the carpet the plunder of our resources because sometimes when you listen to it‚ you get a sense that there is a hidden agenda that other people have when they chant this whole concept of radical economic transformation‚” he said to murmurs of fierce agreement.
Cosatu’s defiant endorsement of Ramaphosa should have been enough to encourage him to give the performance of his life, but he was kind of bland. If you have a home ground advantage, you put your best foot forward, you charm the socks off of your fans but I got the sense that he was somewhat distracted.
Regardless of the presentation, Ramaphosa is now doing the leg work required of him. His lobbyists can rest assured knowing that he won’t “Kgalema” them - by indicating only in the 11th hour that he is in the race, as they had earlier feared.
In Grahamstown about three weeks ago Ramaphosa indicated just how badly he wanted the top job when he confronted the Marikana massacre head on, apologising for the tone of the emails he sent to Lonmin officials in what he claims was an attempt to quell the unrest.
With that elephant in the room dealt with it is clear that state capture is the ticket he will ride on between now and December. He will appeal to those who want a return of the ANC of old, led by ethical leaders.
If current slates are anything to go by, these “ethical leaders,” would include the likes of KwaZulu-Natal Senzo Mchunu, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and possibly current secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. But of course a day in politics is a very long time and anything can happen between now and December.
The NEC this weekend gave the green light for structures to start discussing names. Zuma’s anointed pick, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, already has one up on the deputy president. She boasts an endorsement from an official voting structure, the ANC women’s league.
Ramaphosa will now cross his fingers that his name will start coming up boldly by at least a province or two in the coming weeks.