The race is on: Cyril being wooed by all sides

2012-04-01 08:07

Lobby groups for the Mangaung ­conference – one in favour of ­President Jacob Zuma and another rooting for Deputy President ­Kgalema Motlanthe – are making advances to the same candidate: Cyril Ramaphosa.

They have different means of achieving their goals, but both are punting for Ramaphosa to become ­president of South Africa in 2014.
You read right. Not ANC president, and not in 2012.

The Mangaung conference looks sewn up in favour of President Jacob Zuma, but even his supporters are starting to point to Ramaphosa as president, ­saying the billionaire businessman will do a better job of running the country.

He gave it a tentative go in 2007, but pulled out when it became clear he didn’t have the necessary support. But it might be impossible for Ramaphosa to stay out of the succession race as neatly as he did in 2007 during the Polokwane race.

According to lobbyists on both sides of the ­Mangaung divide – City Press spoke to nine sources that included influential businessmen, provincial leaders and regional power brokers – they are ­wooing Cyril.

But for now the Motlanthe camp is “protecting Cyril’s name”. This means you won’t find him on a list with a position allocated to him. They stay mum and he stays in the background. The Zuma camp does things differently. They want him to serve as a deputy president of the ANC and the country, and develop a relationship between him and Zuma similar to the one between former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela while the latter was president. And then, in 2014, they want Zuma to exit.

“Mbeki would run things and Madiba would be ceremonial. With Cyril there, Zuma can just sit back while he does all the work and eventually takes over,” a Limpopo businessman said.

Ramaphosa rose to prominence again recently by coming down hard on ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema during his disciplinary hearing, showing the decisiveness Zuma has been lacking, both camps say.

“He won’t loot the state and channel it through his children,” said a Motlanthe lobbyist, who is also a ANC Women’s League leader.

His money is also a plus.

“He is not dented; he is clean. Kgalema has had a chance to be president and he is being targeted for scandal. Zuma is dented.”

Ramaphosa is also not seen as salivating for the position during the Polokwane race the way Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale was. He stepped aside while Sexwale went for broke.

Gauteng, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape are trying to sell Ramaphosa to their constituents despite the fact that he hasn’t agreed to become involved.

According to a Joburg youth leader, the lobby group has approached Ramaphosa, but he declined.

“He probably still thinks he will lose, and doesn’t want to do that.”

So where will his support come from?

His lobbyists hope to rekindle the support he had during his trade union days, when he served as ­general secretary for the National Union of ­Mineworkers.

Ramaphosa declined to be interviewed this week.

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