Ramaphosa into the ring

2012-12-17 00:00

WHEN businessman and potential ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa stepped into the VIP toilets outside the plenary tent of the ANC’s national conference venue yesterday, he wanted to change his designer shirt.

He told former government minister Charles Nqakula that he wanted to put on the black ANC T-shirt that he had just received.

It soon became apparent that Ramaphosa’s intentions matched his new outfit when news broke that he had accepted nomination for the deputy presidency.

Ramaphosa himself remained mum even after it was reported by news agency Reuters and confirmed by a senior Luthuli House official that he had accepted nomination.

When approached for comment, the businessman referred all questions to the party’s electoral commission.

But a friend alongside him was eager to make it official, announcing: “He is running”.

Ramaphosa said nothing.

Delegates responded positively to news of Ramaphosa’s decision to accept nomination.

KwaZulu-Natal branch delegate Patience Khaba said that Ramaphosa was a “humble and intelligent someone” who maintained good relations with every­one in the ANC.

“He has never had one fight with anyone,” she said outside the plenary tent where the conference was taking place.

Eastern Cape provincial leader Peter Michael said Rama­phosa was a crowd-puller and universally liked.

“If you take Cyril to a township, or if you take Cyril to a farm, you’ll see the response.

“They like him because they produced him.”

Do his breathtaking riches not make him too much of a capitalist for a top ANC job?

“It is part of the opportunities that the ANC created; anyone could have taken that up,” Michael responded.

Fellow provincial leader Phumelele Ndamase said Ramaphosa’s role as trade unionist and his election to the position of secretary-general of the ANC twice — in 1991 and 1994 — gave him the clout he needed.

“He’s an old horse, he’s been in this leadership for a long time,” he said, referring to Ramaphosa’s position as a member of the national executive committee, the highest decision-making body of the ANC between conferences. He has served on the NEC since 1991.

Even Gauteng delegates who are not in favour of President Jacob Zuma for a second term in the hot seat can’t fault him on his choice to have Ramaphosa as his deputy.

“When Cyril was S-G he steered the organisation properly and people were more disciplined. When he gets elected there will be a major shake-up.

“He will institute a culture of say less and do more.

“If president Zuma can just actually practise what he preached, things will be easier,” one delegate said.

She also hoped Ramaphosa would get ANC members to think “less with their hearts”.

“Having too much emotion doesn’t work; people must stop thinking with their hearts.”

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