Ramaphosa should get off his high horse

2018-06-13 22:25

All signs since Cyril Ramaphosa was elected ANC president and then state president were that he was much more eager to run with the government programme and leave the ANC to take care of itself.

That is pretty much my summation of his programme and posture so far, although he has never personally proclaimed that.

Which, by the way, is not a bad idea.

South Africa needs much more fixing than one political party whose dynamics will always evolve.

ANC members might think otherwise of course, like former president Jacob Zuma used to emphasise (I reiterate and reaffirm that the ANC comes first. It must come first so together we can continue to lead this country effectively, said Zuma last year).

However, recent developments in the ANC means Ramaphosa might have to put some brakes on his high-speed chase of foreign investors and G7 etc and come back to deal with his ANC mess.

Last weekend the KwaZulu-Natal ANC conference collapsed amid deep infighting.

A faction of party members who are loyal to Ramaphosa went to court to obtain an interdict to stop the conference from happening.

This was after it looked like another faction led by former provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala was heading for a clear, but controversial win.

The Zikalala group is associated with Zuma and was believed to have met with him and he convinced them not to accommodate the other group of Ramaphosa supporters.

By all accounts, Zikalala had the numbers going into the conference, but the court granted the interdict because not all branch general meetings had sat before the provincial conference.

Regardless of how many times he denies it, Zuma is working frantically behind the scenes to frustrate Ramaphosa.

But like many of his supporters, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma is still undecided whether to frustrate the ANC from inside or to break away and form a new party.

But such is the powerful anti-Ramaphosa sentiment within this group that they are even contemplating voting for the ANC provincially during the elections next year and then voting for different parties nationally in order to bring down Ramaphosa’s majority.

It is a real possibility that the president has to contend with. Although Ramaphosa attends and addresses key meetings and commemorations, it is largely secretary-general Ace Magashule who has been running the day-to-day activities of the organisation.

But if he allows the status quo to continue, Ramaphosa might wake up way too late.

He should be worried when the likes of North West ANC chairperson Supra Mahumapelo go around proclaiming that “Zuma is our president”.

Just recently an ANC mayor in the Free State said on Facebook that Ramaphosa was a sell-out.

Magashule himself enjoys singing a song at most ANC meetings where he decries “Umthengisi” (the sell-out) without mentioning who it is.

The rug is being pulled from under his feet as Ramaphosa ostensibly focuses on bigger imperatives.

Ramaphosa controls just over half of the national executive committee and he even has his trusted lieutenants in Luthuli House such as Zizi Kodwa and Senzo Mchunu, but he is still not completely in charge.

So sadly, Ramaphosa will have to disembark from his high horse and get down to the mudslinging.

Ramaphosa might be quietly confident that South Africans trust him, as recent surveys have shown, and will vote for him in the elections next year.

But he is not an independent candidate. He is a deployee of the ANC, so he needs the party backing and machinery behind him.

So he is forced to gird up his loins and fight for his space within the party.

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May 19 2019