Ralph Mathekga

Ralph Mathekga: Why Ramaphosa is not attending the Davos summit

2020-01-21 09:45
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The President did not skip Davos because he is worried about the collective within the ANC which might take a decision he would not like simply because he is ticked "absent" on the register that day. This is about whom the president leaves the ANC with, writes Ralph Mathekga

Legend has it that back in the days when most countries on the African continent were under the control of despotic leaders, heads of states rarely traveled outside their countries.

A simple round trip by the president to a United Nations gathering in New York could easily be upgraded to a one-way trip to exile.

Dictators were wise enough to know that of all the risks faced as a despot, it would be an unforgivable own goal to travel outside your country only to be met by the military having taken over the airport upon your return, if you are brave enough to even return.

The fear of being removed from power while on an overseas trip is probably the reason dictatorship regimes can slash unnecessary travel costs.

Despotic leaders do not have to waste public funds travelling all over the world telling everybody about what they are doing at home.

Dictators tend to focus on doing the work at home and cut out travel frills.

Democratic governments, however, are known to blow huge sums of public funds on travelling costs, as the president travels freely without fear of being deposed.

Therefore, I was very surprised to hear that President Ramaphosa decided to save the taxpayer some money by not travelling to Davos this time around.

I thought it was a good gesture for the president to send his ministers to Davos, while he remains behind to give an ear to further refinement of the RET (Radical Economic Transformation) as the ANC NEC was meeting over the weekend.

I have heard a rather disturbing explanation that President Ramaphosa is also concerned that he will lose grounds within his party if he leaves for Switzerland.

Since we are not a dictatorship, Ramaphosa cannot be said to fear being removed in his absence. I think the president rather fears returning to a new policy about Eskom, and probably even the new Tzar in charge of Eskom, instead of minister Pravin Gordhan.

Such turn of events would really SHOCK the president upon his return from Davos.

Therefore, he thought it necessary to stay behind and be there at the party's critical NEC meeting to ensure there are no big moves that further pushes Eskom away from the solution.

The mathematics I have been following is pointing me to a complex equation as to why the president decided to ditch Davos for the ANC NEC meeting. There is a serious explanation than the polite reason I've seen making rounds.

The President did not skip Davos because he is worried about the collective within the ANC which might take a decision he would not like simply because he is ticked "absent" on the register that day.

This is about whom the president leaves the ANC with.

Let me put it this way, had deputy president David Mabuza decided to grace the Davos gathering with his refreshing take on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), someone would have ditched the ANC NEC to go bolster the delegation that is headed to Davos.  

Since the deputy president spoke publicly about Eskom, he might enjoy becoming even more bolder in pronouncing on the mistakes that are made in government.

Therefore, President Ramaphosa seems to have resorted to keeping his deputy on a close watch so he does not cause problems by targeting the president's allies.

The question is whether this strategy will help Ramaphosa as he struggles to show that he is charge. I wonder if this strategy will be enough to ensure stability of Ramaphosa's presidency.

- Dr Ralph Mathekga is a political analyst and author of When Zuma Goes and Ramaphosa's Turn.

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:    anc  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  david mabuza  |  davos  |  politics


Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.