Adriaan Basson

Editor's notes: Ramaphosa will need a bulldog in Luthuli House to govern

2017-12-19 12:25
Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

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'Unity' is getting support from the ANC members - David Mabuza

2017-12-17 08:30

News24 Editor Adriaan Basson chats to ANC Mpumalanga chairperson David Mabuza about the success of the 'unity' campaign. Watch.WATCH

It’s the day after the night before and everyone is trying to make sense of the Liquorice Allsorts outcome of the ANC’s 54th national elective conference.

Reactions vary between "the ANC is dead" (the DA) to "everybody won" (the NDZ camp) and "the ANC has been saved" (Ramaphosa’s supporters).

They can’t all be true, and the final truth will depend on Ramaphosa’s ability to get rid of Jacob Zuma as president of South Africa. Judging from Zuma’s facial expression when his successor was announced, that will be an #awks discussion.

It may go something like this:

Ramaphosa: "Msholozi, you are old now. You’ve got a nice retirement village in Nkandla and a savings plan in Dubai. Don’t you think it’s time to step aside to allow the ANC’s new leadership to take over the running of the state?"

Zuma: "No."

The stakes are too high for Zuma to hand over the keys to the Union Building now and I can’t see him voluntarily stepping aside any day soon. He is under tremendous pressure from the Russians to deliver nuclear energy and would want to push through free higher education for poor and working-class students as his legacy.

Not having his deputy (Lindiwe Sisulu) and secretary general (Senzo Mchunu) of choice by his side, Ramaphosa will now have to think of smart ways to make Zuma go away. Because until Zuma has left the Union Buildings, Ramaphosa’s hands are tied to implement any anti-corruption measures or clean up state institutions.

He will need the support of his new deputy, David “DD” Mabuza, to convince Zuma to accept some kind of smart deal, packaged as a graceful exit. In the process, Ramaphosa may have to sacrifice some of his plans to clean up.

Both Mabuza and Ace Magashule, new secretary general, will need Stuttaford Van Lines to help them transport their closets of skeletons to Luthuli House. There are no smallanyana skeletons here; this is dinosaur exhibition stuff.

They have both been deeply implicated in corruption and a variety of other crimes in their provinces over the years. Those who know say they had perfected "province capture" long before the term "state capture" became popular.

This will be Ramaphosa’s biggest challenge: he will need a bulldog in Luthuli House to watch over their shoulders permanently.

If Luthuli House was a company, Magashule would be the CEO, Jessie Duarte the COO and Paul Mashatile the CFO. Although Mashatile came in on the Ramaphosa slate, his proximity to Magashule and the Free State is well known.

Can Ramaphosa trust these three to protect his crown jewels? I think not.

Will Gwede Mantashe be his bulldog, in his new role as chairperson of the party? Although the role of chair is much more ceremonial than that of secretary general, Ramaphosa could decide to leave Mantashe in Luthuli House to be his ears and eyes, instead of deploying him somewhere else.

Another option is to add an additional strong NEC member to Luthuli House to strengthen the running of the organisation, as former president Thabo Mbeki did with Smuts Ngonyama. Someone like Tito Mboweni or Derek Hanekom could add muscle to Ramaphosa’s efforts to keep control of the party when he finally moves to the Union Buildings.

But to get there, he must get rid of Zuma first. I can’t see a Mbeki-like recall happening with the current make-up of the top six, and probably the new NEC. A graceful exit with sweeteners may be the only option available to Ramaphosa.

But what will these sweeteners be? And how will they affect his anti-corruption ticket, that he needs unblemished to make sure the ANC wins the 2019 national election?

This is Ramaphosa’s poison chalice. 

Read more on:    cyril rama­phosa  |  luthuli house  |  anc leadership race  |  anc
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