Ramaphosa must seize moment


The ANC's elective national conference has come and gone.

While we are none the wiser about the policy direction the governing party will pursue under the new leadership, there is room for optimism that new party president Cyril Ramaphosa represents a break from what his predecessor Jacob Zuma stood for.

The news of Ramaphosa's election earlier this week buoyed the financial markets and resulted in the rand rallying to a nine-month high, before retreating over uncertainty about some leaders in the party's top six structure.

In the same vein, some sections of the business community have expressed their willingness to work with Ramaphosa to restore business confidence.

It is vital that the leadership and the national executive committee sing from the same hymn sheet on issues like combating graft and fixing the economy. It will signal to society that we are on a new trajectory, and that the social and economic stagnation of the Zuma years is behind us.

But a lot also hinges on Ramaphosa's personality and leadership style. Although the January 8 statement is a collective work of the leadership, he could still use it to set the tone for what the country should expect from the ANC. He needs to show that he is made of sterner stuff and that he is not shy to assert himself when the occasion demands.

There needs to be a sense of coherence between policy positions the party espouses and the policy direction the government is taking. There has been too much cacophony on issues like nuclear energy, free higher education and state capture. What we need now is harmonious voices on such issues.

That will signal there are no two centres of power - one at the Union Buildings and the other at Luthuli House - and that Ramaphosa is in charge. It's a good thing that he is already in government. Unlike in 2007 when the party forced Thabo Mbeki to appoint Kgalema Motlanthe to oversee the transitional period, Ramaphosa will manage the transition.

If there is a low-hanging fruit Ramaphosa could pluck, it would be to push Zuma to institute the state capture inquiry and to get all those who are implicated in the cabinet to come clean.

The ball is squarely in his court and all eyes are on him.

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