No going back for presidential hopeful Ramaphosa

2017-08-06 06:01
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa no longer has the option to pull out of the ANC succession race because history would judge him harshly.

This is according to his longtime friend-turned-campaign coordinator James Motlatsi, who told City Press this week that Ramaphosa had learnt from former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe’s decision to contest Jacob Zuma for the presidency in Mangaung in 2012 – a decision which spared Motlanthe a lot of criticism.

“Is there anyone who can criticise Kgalema today? He contested, so history will judge him fairly. Therefore Cyril must avail himself,” Motlatsi said, adding that the growing number of presidential hopefuls was not a sign of ANC members’ lack of trust in Ramaphosa.

Motlatsi is one of 12 campaign managers in the Ramaphosa camp, which is reported to be predominantly white – a claim which Motlatsi rejected. Amid complaints of vote buying and manipulation of membership, the CR17 team is intent on running a clean campaign to boost public confidence, he said.

“We have come across other campaign teams which use money. Money can buy people but there is nobody who can buy the truth, even if you have a lot of money.

“Today people, rich or poor, know the difference between what is right and wrong. Therefore I don’t care about those who are buying votes. We won’t be part of those buying votes,” he said.

He said a majority of people in the ANC acknowledged that the party had been weakened and wanted it to be strong again, even though they did not say this publicly like ANC MP Makhosi Khoza.

Motlatsi said a committee for the Ramaphosa campaign was formed last year and that the campaign was, for some time, funded from committee members’ own pockets. He denied that the campaign was now being funded by big business and said that instead it was receiving contributions from individual businesspeople.

Motlatsi said Ramaphosa was the best candidate and would not put his family’s interests above those of the country. He said he would not have taken charge of the campaign had he believed Ramaphosa would not win.

“To be honest, if I didn’t have confidence that we would win I would have withdrawn my participation,” he asserted, adding that he would rest only when the results were announced in December.

He was among those in the ANC who rejected as undemocratic the proposal to accommodate a losing candidate in the ANC’s top brass as deputy president.

“I don’t have a problem with [the idea of] a second deputy president of the ANC, but I have a problem with how it should manifest itself. People must be given a chance to contest,” he said. He added that consensus must be reached on leadership based on the best interests
of the country.

Should he win, Ramaphosa’s inaugural speech will focus on how he planned to grow the economy and fix the education system, he said.

He also defended Ramaphosa, who continues to be haunted by the August 2012 Marikana massacre. “Ten people had already lost lives. That is what Cyril was worried about when he said law enforcement needed to disarm these people. He didn’t know that law enforcement would use live ammunition. He was thinking about 1987 and the loss of life.”

This was in reference to the largest mine workers’ strike in South Africa after which the then apartheid government declared a state of emergency.

Ramaphosa, a political activist and former trade unionist, founded the National Union of Mineworkers together with Motlatsi in the 1980s and as general secretary led the historic 1987 strike on the gold belt that led to mass dismissals.

With a few days to go before the commemoration of the Marikana massacre, Motlatsi said Ramaphosa would join struggle icon Winnie Mandela on a visit to Marikana.

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