Ralph Mathekga

Ramaphosa's campaign is doomed

2017-04-17 08:16

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign to occupy the top leadership position within the ANC is gradually heating up. The former African Union chairperson is making it clear that she will leave no stone unturned in her quest to lead the ANC, and possibly become the president of the country. 

The last few days have seen Dlamini-Zuma becoming more aggressive and picking fights against those who are critical about the ANC. She even picked a fight with model C schools, claiming that such schools are factories that produce anti-ANC propaganda. Model C schools tend to be a safe haven for the middle class who can afford to stay away from government schools that have been ruined by the ANC-led government since the party took over in 1994.

Dlamini-Zuma is clearly reading the script prepared for her by President Jacob Zuma’s allies, including the so-called premier league grouping that is believed to be made up of the premiers of Mpumalanga, North West and the Free State.  The campaign by this grouping is aggressive and can only be countered by a serious contender.

This brings me to Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to lead the ANC, a campaign that is appearing more and more stale and impotent. As the current deputy president of the ANC, Ramaphosa is fighting for his political life and he is fighting as an outsider, while Dlamini-Zuma is fighting as an insider who is enjoying support from within ANC structures such as the Youth, Veteran’s and Women’s leagues. Despite having been out of the country for a while, Dlamini-Zuma is showing Ramaphosa that he is only a caretaker deputy president who will be shown the door very soon.

Ramaphosa appears like someone who is waiting for the bus to stop and pick him up while Dlamini-Zuma is standing right in the middle of the road waving for the bus to stop and take her to the heights of leadership positions within the ANC.

Ramaphosa is a weak candidate who seems to be there merely because an anti-Zuma space exists and can be occupied by just about anyone with a mild intention to push against Jacob Zuma’s preferred candidate.

As the only candidate who is by default positioned to stand against Dlamini-Zuma, Ramaphosa’s candidature is hoarding the space that could be occupied by a serious candidate who could meaningfully take the fight to Dlamini-Zuma and Jacob Zuma’s allies.

Those who support Ramaphosa’s campaign within the ANC would have to contend with the reality of wasting their votes on a candidate who is appearing increasingly out of touch with what it takes to win against the Zumas.

As for Ramaphosa himself, he has to decide whether he will continue with an already doomed campaign, or declare defeat and leave the space for a stronger candidate to emerge.

Soldiering through with a campaign that lacks sting and hoping for a miracle to take place is irresponsible and selfish of Ramaphosa. This denies the ANC a meaningful alternative to the Zumas. 

Either Ramaphosa does something drastic to bolster his campaign in the next few weeks, or he should abandon the campaign and allow for an alternative to take up the space.

If he stubbornly goes ahead and loses against Dlamini-Zuma in December, Ramaphosa would have to take full responsibility for another decade of the Zuma’s in office.

The ANC and the country deserve a better alternative and Ramaphosa has to quickly decide whether or not he is up the task. Time is ticking fast because this hour has twenty minutes!

- Ralph Mathekga is an independent political analyst and author of the book When Zuma Goes. He writes a weekly column for News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    cyril ­ramaphosa  |  anc leadership race
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