Hanekom talks up Ramaphosa

2012-05-19 18:23

In front of a star-studded audience, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Derek Hanekom asked businessman Cyril Ramaphosa to run for president.

Hanekom was hosting a panel discussion on the life of ANC stalwart and former secretary general Walter Sisulu at the Wits Great Hall on Friday night.

The event was held under the auspices of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the Gauteng ANC. Ramaphosa is the chairperson of the foundation.

Hanekom used the opportunity to wax lyrical about Ramaphosa’s achievements.

“We need leaders of comrade Cyril’s calibre. I know comrade Cyril is very good at business, but I really wish he would put all his money in a trust and step up for a higher and more senior position,” Hanekom told the 300-strong audience, who murmured in agreement.

Hanekom, who is the chairperson of the ANC disciplinary committee, quickly backtracked when he realised how his comments could be construed.

“I’m not starting a succession debate here,” he told the laughing audience.

In attendance were parliamentary speaker Max Sisulu, ANC Gauteng secretary David Makhura, Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau, government’s chief spokesperson Jimmy Manyi and former minister Barbara Hogan.

Ramaphosa laughed off Hanekom’s comments, saying they had been made in jest.

He said he didn’t take seriously what his fellow ANC NEC member had said.

“You can’t read anything (into what he said). He was joking,” Ramaphosa told City Press.

Ramaphosa has kept a low profile in ANC politics in the past 10 years, but has recently been mentioned by the two opposing camps in the ANC as a possible state president, while either President Jacob Zuma or his contender, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, runs the ANC from Luthuli House.

Senior ANC leaders are also said to be “selling Cyril” to branches while still keeping his campaign under the radar to shield him from possible attacks by political rivals.

After his stillborn campaign for the presidency before the ANC’s 2007 conference in Polokwane, Ramaphosa has avoided political waters.

He rose to prominence again when he cut short ambitions by expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema to make a political comeback.

As chairperson of the national disciplinary appeals committee, Ramaphosa endorsed Malema’s expulsion from the ANC.

The race for the country’s top job is heating up – last week Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale was identified as a possible candidate.

Support for Sexwale is still sketchy, and his failure to secure support for the Polokwane conference in 2007 looms large in the ANC’s collective memory.

Addressing an audience of businesspeople and professionals at a breakfast in Bloemfontein on Thursday morning, Zuma said he was often asked whether he would stand for a second term.

Zuma said that although some people now declared themselves available for positions, this was not the way the ANC did it.

“I cannot stand up and say I want to be president,” he said.

Zuma described it as “un-ANC” to stand up and say, “I want to lead the organisation”.

He said: “Saying you want to lead the ANC is a new culture.”

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