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Ramaphosa is one step from the top

By Mondli Makhanya | Dec 19, 2012 | COMMENTS [ 66 ]

Ex-trade unionist in pole position for president

IT WAS in the town of Bloemfontein in 1994 that Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa's ambition of assuming the deputy presidency of the ANC, and thus position himself to succeed Nelson Mandela, was dashed.

Ramaphosa was competing with Thabo Mbeki, who was seen by many in the ANC as a natural crown prince.

The son of the late ANC Struggle icon Govan Mbeki had been groomed for leadership from the time his lips first touched his mother's breasts, and no one was supposed to stand in his way. Delegates did not take kindly to Ramaphosa jumping the queue, as it were. His time would come, they told him.

So Ramaphosa accepted his fate. He concentrated on completing his task as the chair of the Constitutional Assembly, and by 1996 he had delivered South Africa its grand Constitution.

Turning down an offer to become minister of foreign affairs, he slunk off to the business sector.

The day he stood next to Dr Nthato Motlana (the revered businessman and politician who died in 2008 after a long battle with cancer) to announce that he would be quitting politics to help found the National Empowerment Consortium came as a shock for many.

Outside the ANC, there was sadness that the man who many hoped would succeed Mandela would be lost to public life. In the top echelons of the ANC his departure was seen as petulance, the actions of an overly ambitious individual who could not wait his turn.

Mbeki went on to claim the crown at the 1997 Mafikeng conference and then succeed Mandela as president in 1999. But even in victory Mbeki remained suspicious of Ramaphosa, and his henchmen even engineered the investigation into a spurious coup plot against him and other leaders.

At the height of the pre-Polokwane wars, Ramaphosa was courted by party elders and activists to enter the presidency race as a so-called Third Way candidate. He declined, telling them that he did not want to stand in between ferocious hounds.

Ramaphosa returned to Bloemfontein this week to claim the crown he was denied in 1994. Riding on the coat-tails of Jacob Zuma, he replaced Kgalema Motlanthe as deputy president and put himself in pole position to be South Africa's next head of state.

The return to high politics by someone who was seen as the best president South Africa never had marked a dramatic ending to an eventful year for Ramaphosa.

He had begun the year by presiding over the expulsion of enfante terrible Julius Malema from the ANC. As chair of the ANC's (disciplinary) appeals panel, he increased Malema's five-year suspension to complete expulsion, a move that neutered Malema's power and removed one of the biggest threats to Zuma's re-election.

The Malema disciplinary hearing thrust Ramaphosa back into the public spotlight and marked the beginning of his re-emergence into public life. A controversial re-emergence, it must be added.

Presiding over Malema's expulsion earned him the ire of the youth leader's supporters, who portrayed him as Zuma's lapdog. His public image was to be further dented by his decision to mount an R18-milion bid for a buffalo at a Free State auction. Dressed in Afrikaner khakhis, Ramaphosa cut a striking figure at the auction. So much so that nobody remembers who the successful bidder was. In the public mind, Ramaphosa BOUGHT the buffalo.

The buffalo bid was seen as an extremely insensitive act by the unionist-turned-businessman - an indication that he no longer cared about the masses. This attitude was to be further exacerbated in the aftermath of the Marikana massacre. When it emerged that he was a shareholder in Lonmin, the company in whose name the massacre was perpetrated, Ramaphosa was targeted as the face of the company.

Then came the infamous e-mails he sent to his colleagues, telling them that he had told political and police authorities to take "concomitant action" against the striking workers. Ramaphosa had ordered the massacre, read the script of his foes. The public's perception of him as an uncaring fat-cat was entrenched.

But all of that is water under the bridge now. The ANC delegates were only interested in getting Zuma a second term, and anyone who was travelling on the same bus as him could only be good.

Which makes Ramaphosa highly indebted to Zuma. His 3018 votes were not for Ramaphosa the great leader. They were for the man who would give Zuma the gravitas and dignity he so lacks. He has now mortgaged his legacy to Zuma and it will be his fervent wish that things do not go badly wrong in the next few years because that would cost him his shot at the top job.

Informed speculation is that Ramaphosa was ensnared by the promise of him moving into the Union Buildings in 2014 while Zuma concentrates on running the ANC from Luthuli House.

Should this happen, the 60-year-old Ramaphosa would avoid the bruising battle that is likely to be the race for the 2017 ANC leader and the 2019 presidency of the Republic. He will, without lifting a finger, see off challenges from the likes of Tokyo Sexwale, Paul Mashatile and Kgalema Motlanthe.

In office, he would have to agree to be controlled from Luthuli House - with all the risks that would be posed. He would have to protect Zuma from likely prosecution for his pre-presidency crimes, overlook sins committed while the man from Nkandla was in the presidency and continue to be good to his captain's pals.

On the other hand, he could remain loyal to the Constitution he midwifed and defy all the wrong that Zuma represents. He could turn out to be the ANC's great rescue plan and reverse the party's descent into chaos.

It is all up to him to decide whether his legacy is worth sacrificing for a short-cut to the top.

COMMENTS [ 66 ]

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How did one who 'serves' the people amass R5.7 Billlion?
The man is worth R5.7 Billlion !!!

w w w. forbes.com/profile/cyril-ramaphosa

Feb 10, 2013 6:5 | 0 replies

@ Phalo wrote:

"To those who say Mandela "wanted" Cyril to succeed him, that is just hearsay. There is no concrete proof. Yes Mandela loved Cyril like he loved Pallo Jordan and used to tow him when going on TV interviews, and Zuma as well. But the biggest turnoff was when Mandela invited Cyril to join the ANC in 1990. Cyril said he wont join unless a position in the top six is conferred to him, which is why he joined as an SG in 1991. Tambo was not impressed and told Sisulu and Mandela of his displeasure. Mandela chose Mbeki out of his own accord, because of Cyril "bold" indiscretions. So we must not forget those issues".
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Don't you think your claims that Cyril was invited by Mandela to Join the ANC in 1990 may also be hearsay as well? As far as i can remember, Mandela was released on 11 February 1990 and the day was Sunday. Cyril is one of the ANC big wiggs who went to Victor Polsmor Prison to meat Mandela when he was released, therefore there was no way in which Cyril had not joined the ANC by that time. So i suspect it is your facts which are not accurate at all. What you are trying to tell us is that Cyril is just "Umafikizolo" in the ANC. Can you please tell us which party did he belong to before that time when Mandela supposedly "invited" him to join the ANC?

Dec 19, 2012 2:25 | 0 replies

@MommaC
LOL, but it is true unfortunately. Cyril did not endear himself to Mandela because of his demands. Sad but True

@Patsekg
Technically he did not steal, but from an emotional and human standpoint, There is a family in Garankuwa that was robbed by Cyril, the Marikana miners were pawned for R13600 per head and Cyril paid them just over R5000 and collecting a cool R7000+ profit. Modern day slavery if you ask me.

Dec 19, 2012 2:15 | 0 replies

South Africa is a free country where people are free to spend their money whichever way they like as long as they did not steal the money from anyone. For Cyril, buying that buffalow was purely a business decision, someone may ask in what sence? The fact that this buffalow which everyone is talking about was a bull, it means that cyril wanted it to produce more buffallows of its nature so that he can in turn make more millions out of its offsprings. Cyril Ramaphosa did not steal money from anyone, nor did he become rich by defrauding government. He simply work hard for his money and he has a right to make a business decision that will make him even more richer in future. It is so shocking to hear some of you accusing him of things you only read about in the news papers, accusations that have not been tested. Give Cyril a chance, he will not steal from the state, he is already rich.

Dec 19, 2012 2:9 | 0 replies

Phalo

Ja and then the tandmuise had an affair with the easter bunny and Tinkerbell sued for divorce

Dec 19, 2012 2:9 | 0 replies

To those who say Mandela "wanted" Cyril to succeed him, that is just hearsay. There is no concrete proof. Yes Mandela loved Cyril like he loved Pallo Jordan and used to tow him when going on TV interviews, and Zuma as well. But the biggest turnoff was when Mandela invited Cyril to join the ANC in 1990. Cyril said he wont join unless a position in the top six is conferred to him, which is why he joined as an SG in 1991. Tambo was not impressed and told Sisulu and Mandela of his displeasure. Mandela chose Mbeki out of his own accord, because of Cyril "bold" indiscretions. So we must not forget those issues.

Dec 19, 2012 1:41 | 0 replies

skwamasamabele - Why are you so racist man? Why do you hate black leaders? Why are your comments so full of hate towards black people (ANC)?



The type of questions I regularly get for carrying the same opinion.

Dec 19, 2012 1:29 | 0 replies

Ponko.Fontoyo--Stupid delagates,how do you choose a person who bought an animal for 18 millions,mxm im not coming back to mzansi.
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I understand your frustration, I feel the same too. I live in the UK but NOT going home is NOT an option. I fought in the struggle, not for these carcasses to rob and steal from our people, but to create a decent society and peaceful living. Obviously we see it from a different perspective from here, but everytime I visit home, my wife cries and gets depressed because of what she sees our people being so poor in the land of plenty. I wont take British Nationality, because I am an African, and would die in Africa. I am just waiting for my children to finish school, and then I head home to bliksem those corrupt nincompoops. So, dont turn your back on Motherland (Africa), BECAUSE OF REPTILES

Dec 19, 2012 1:27 | 0 replies

Buffalo Cyr---il
Trade them miners
Kill em in Marikana
Claim the bounty.

Driven by profit
to the heart of the ANC
Me say buffalo Cyreeil

Dec 19, 2012 1:25 | 0 replies

Ramaphosa is a billionaire 2day just like Motsepe cos the r politically connected. These 2 guyz never started any business from the ground. The only RIGHT thing they need 2 DO is 2 share those ill gotten gains with other POOR MORONS who keep the ANC in power

Dec 19, 2012 1:9 | 0 replies

@Mgaraji
@ProgressiveAfricanDemocrat
Your posts are getting shorter. Sour loser. Keep moaning & keep crying. If you placed reality before your feelings, you would have forseen that Zuma was going to return but you allowed you emotions over reality. Do not despair uzoba strong.
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where is he coming from kwakwakwakwa tlitlitlitltil hihihihihihi

Dec 19, 2012 12:38 | 0 replies