Home » News » Comments »  Can Cyril Mend Fences?

Can Cyril Mend Fences?

Publishing Date : 25 December, 2017

Author :

The ANC is riddled with factional fissures that threaten its stability and prospects for yet another tilt at Mahlamba Ndlopfu. Is Ramaphosa its redeemer? BENSON C SAILI provides a perspective.


It is one of the most bilious and spiteful facial innuendoes ever captured by a video lensman. If looks can indeed kill, then this one qualifies by the truckload. When Cyril Ramaphosa, 65,  was announced as the new ANC President, Jacob Zuma frowned, glowered, scowled, pouted, pulled a face, pursed his lips, turned the corners of his mouth down. Practically every hint of rancour in the book competed for a slot on his now seamed but still telegenic face while those noxious seconds ticked away. If there was such a thing as giving somebody a black look, that was very much it.


But that was what we saw with the naked eye. What was going on in his mind as he trained such an obviously churlish and disapproving eye at his No. 2 who is now No. 1 in the ANC structures and No. 1 designate in the structures of government? Was it a foretaste of his own medicine that he self-seekingly administered to Thabo Mbeki when he staged that famous palace coup of September 2008? If only we could read minds!  


It is no secret that Zuma was rooting for a woman first president of the ANC not that he has that much regard for the honour, dignity, and psychosocial peace of women.  He has married six times, impregnated the daughter of a close friend, and raped yet another daughter of a deceased comrade-in-arms because she came into his presence, so he said, wrapped in a kanga, which to him was a tacit invitation to bed her.  To him, women are no more than chattels, a mere means to satiate an end of sorts, which Nkosazana Dhlamin-Zuma apparently has been of late, and not to genuinely and impassionedly  love.


Nkosazana as we all know is  Zuma’s ex-wife, his third.  He was married to her from 1982 to 1998.  Zuma, who has 22 official children and as a atypically virile 75-year-old counting, has four children with Nkosazana, 68, meaning the two retain a tangible and enduring bond. Recently, they entered into a political marriage which was consummated when Zuma closed ranks with her as his  preferred future president of the Republic of South Africa.


If the truth may be told, Nkosazana was nudged to contest by Zuma, or Zuma’s children with Nkosazana, on behalf of Zuma. Why?  Because in her, Zuma saw his insurance policy against possible, in fact likely, prosecution once he constitutionally stepped down in 2019. With those 783 counts of corruption and fraud ticked against him on the rap sheet, I can swear by Gerrie Nel that at least one will stick fast, like Super Glue, and land him smack-bang behind bars for a lengthy stretch. That, folks, is the reason why Zuma threw his hat into the ANC presidential ring in the guise of Nkosazana and why he eyed Cyril with such glaring malice aforethought at the Nasrec Conference Centre.  

MANDELA’S BLESSINGS FRUCTIFY AT LONG LAST

Addressing the press the day after an election in which only one woman made it in the Top Six of the ANC echelons, ANC Women’s League President Batlabile Dlamini lashed out at the continued patriarchy within the 105-year-old party. She regretted that Kaizana OR Tambo, to whom the 54th National ANC conference was dedicated, must be turning in his grave to this virtual misogyny. Kaizana had in his gentle, mild-mannered way lobbied for women to be put on an equal footing as men in the ANC.   


Maybe Dlamini had a point, but what she overlooked was that there was another departed icon who unlike Kaizana must have been wreathed in smiles from the great beyond for a result that mattered the most at Nasrec. This was Nelson Mandela. It is common knowledge that Cyril was Madiba’s No. 1 choice for the post of vice president and therefore future president when he himself had rode off into the sunset. Madiba had a lot of question marks about Thabo Mbeki’s political rectitude but the factor that principally disposed him toward Cyril was his being a non-Xhosa, whereas he and Thabo both were Xhosas. Mandela was wary that the body politic might view the ANC as a Xhosa fiefdom.  Yet it was not his own rethink that made him sideline Cyril in the final analysis:


it was the powerful voice of the so-called Exiles, who had taken on the apartheid government from the trenches. The Internals, who were rallying communities largely behind the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Cosatu and to whom Cyril belonged, were not seen as having been pivotal enough to the struggle to take pride of place in the corridors of power.


In the event, the political leap forward for which Cyril had poised himself did not materialise, outmanouvered as he was by the shrewder and more calculating  political opponent that was Thabo. Cyril, who was the ANC secretary-general at the time, was so miffed by his losing out to Thabo that he boycotted Madiba’s inauguration ceremony as president in 1994. Ordinarily, that should have politically alienated him from Madiba, but the president took the snub in his stride and even courted Cyril with the foreign affairs portfolio, which Cyril declined so irrevocably disaffected was he.    


That,  now, is water under the bridge. Madiba must have beamed from ear to ear from his perch in the hereafter when Cyril was handed what is without doubt his greatest Xmas present ever at Nasrec. The parcel, however, can only be unwrapped in 2019 and even as many expect it turns out to be the key to   Mahlamba Ndlopfu, the official residence for the South African president,  will it be the magic wand with which Cyril could reinvent the ANC and mould it into a cohesive and harmonious whole? Is Cyril the party’s long-awaited breath of fresh air since the halcyon days of Madiba the Great?

WOULD CYRIL RECALL ZUMA?


There’s no shortage of cynics who aver that with his election to the helm of Africa’s oldest party, Cyril has been handed a poisoned chalice given the factional fault lines that rage within it. That the party is so worryingly polarised was evidenced by the fact of the Top Six, who effectively run the party, being split crisply down the middle. Tony Leon’s barb of a tweet that, “A House Divided Cannot Stand: 3 against state capture versus  3 captured” spoke volumes on this comedy of strange bedfellows.


The captured ones (that is, those infected with the highly venomous Gupta bug and who are fanatically pro-Msholozi) are David Mabuza (Deputy President), Ace Magashule (Secretary-General) and Jessie Duarte  (Deputy Secretary-General). They hail  from the Nkosazana  camp. It does not bear emphasising that the three will exercise significant sway over the NEC’s  decisions.  They are certain to be the maverick executives sworn to see to it that the Cyril camp’s constructive designs to take drastic steps to burnish the image of the party through,  for example,  recalling  the catastrophically corrupt Zupta, are thwarted at every turn.    


To unite  the party, Cyril will have to tread a fine line between pandering to the agenda of either side of the factional divide. The problem is that in order  to radically reformat the ANC and endear it to the broader electorate, Cyril will have to cauterise it of its multiple tumours, which entails spearheading decisive action against the Guptas and upending the system of patronage and clientelism that is abroad in the land. That he cannot do without withdrawing  Zuma from the presidency given that he will be under pressure to demonstrate that he is made of sterner stuff, that he has what it takes to apply shock therapy to restore the country’s long-lost glory. That,  sadly, he cannot do with a neck-and-neck mix of the party’s top-brass.     


Cyril not only  has been presented a poisoned chalice for sure: he’s between Scylla and Charybdis, teetering  precariously between a rock and a hard place. Maybe it is the main reason he shed tears when he was declared the new ANC president as he cut a ponderous figure on the rostrum.

CYRIL’S BLACK MARKS



Coming into the Nasrec contest,  Cyril Ramaphosa had the support of that rarest of all alliances – business, labour,  and the South African Communist Party. It is not that  he was the ideal candidate: he was simply the lesser of the two devils vying for the top job. That Cyril has far from won the hearts of South African was laid bare by the wafer-thin margin by which he edged Nkosazana – only 179 votes.


For all  I care, Nkosazana is hardly electable material. She has no charisma, no glittering  accomplishments to her name as a former minister or head of the African Union Mission, and is far from a rousing speaker. Yet she took a charismatic, well-spoken, and politically stellar opponent that is Cyril if his role in  crafting the constitution of a democratic South Africa is anything to go by right to the wire.


Cyril’s ineradicable stain, which still haunted many  of the delegates at Nasrec, was Marikana. To some people, Marikana has become his middle name.  The spectre  of the Marikana massacre, in which 34 striking mines were shot dead by the police on August 16 2012,  has hovered over Cyril ever since, being a director in Lohmin, the company that owns the mine. The day before the massacre, Cyril had sent emails to the mine management describing the strike as a “dastardly criminal act”, this coming from a former secretary-general of the National Union of Mineworkers. To his detractors,  therefore, Cyril was effectively culpable in the ensuing shootings.


Cyril also has his share of ideological naysayers, who receive him as a capitalist first and foremost and a politician only secondarily. According to the highly respected US-based magazine, Forbes, Cyril has a net worth of just under R6 billion having benefitted from the talismanic Black  Economic Empowerment programme. As much a as he reportedly taps into this wealth to  assist in redressing the plight of the need, he has also been panned for  flaunting it.    For example, he once placed a R18 million bid for a buffalo, a gesture which drew howls of outrage from the masses.  

EYE OF THE NEEDLE FOR CYRIL?

 At Nasrec though, it was not only Cyril who had loads of unsavoury political baggage. David Mabuza presides over a private army in his native province of Mpumalanga. Magashule has been described by the National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers Union as “the Robert Mugabe of the ANC” for his penchant for despotism as the Free State’s ANC chairman, not to mention his shady associations with the villainous Guptas.


Duarte has been expressly implicated in the Gupta scandals. It is a pity that in Africa, we vote on the basis of regionalism, palm greasing, and sheer  blind loyalty as opposed to objective, well-thought-through criteria. In the more archetypal and politically savvy democracies, hardly any of the faces of the Top Six would have featured on the ballot paper.  


Meanwhile, in the chatter over the Nasrec results, it was EFF’s deputy Floyd Chimbavu’s tweet that momentarily transfixed me. It said, “It will  be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for you (Cyril) to become president.” Will Zuma mount a spectacular rally and a uncork an explosive  punch that will send Cyril down for the full count? Will he somewhat scupper Cyril’s prospects to replace him at Mahlamba Ndlopfu?


Once when Julius Malema was a vociferous Zuma imbongi, he repeatedly served notice that he and fellow youth leaguers  were prepared to kill for Zuma. Is there someone among   Zuma’s legions of  acolytes who has a similar mindset? Watch your back Cyril. This is not to mention your food, your movements vehicularly,  and your airspace jaunts.  Despite Marikana, I still hold you in reasonable esteem. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Cartoon

Polls

Do you think the closure of BCL will compel SPEDU to double their efforts in creating job opportunities in the Selibe Phikwe?

banner_14.jpg
banner_12.jpg

POPULER BRANDS