Ramaphosa wants power now

2018-01-07 06:03
Cyril Ramaphosa. (Pic: Gallo Images)

Cyril Ramaphosa. (Pic: Gallo Images)

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ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa’s backers are planning for him to take over the reins in the next few weeks and have him deliver the state of the nation address in February.

However, Ramaphosa has to reckon with the possibility that pushing Jacob Zuma out as president could cause divisions in the party and incur the wrath of Zuma’s KwaZulu-Natal support base.

Officials close to Ramaphosa told City Press that the new ANC president was eager to occupy office and restore confidence in the country.

However, there are also fears of a backlash from structures and provinces that supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the party presidency at the ANC’s elective conference in December.

Unlike in September 2008, when the ANC recalled then president Thabo Mbeki and made Kgalema Motlanthe interim president for eight months until the next elections, the plan is for Ramaphosa to take charge immediately.

This would make him the face of the party and the country from now until the 2019 general elections.

The ANC’s top six officials are visiting KwaZulu-Natal from today and have scheduled a courtesy call on Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.

According to a KwaZulu-Natal leadership source, they want to meet Zuma for talks.

The conversation about Zuma voluntarily handing over power could happen at that meeting, or on the sidelines ahead of Wednesday’s ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting.

On Monday, the top six officials will be laying wreaths at the graves of former ANC presidents Albert Luthuli, John Langalibalele Dube and Josiah Gumede in the province.

They are expected to meet provincial ANC leaders to discuss court challenges that led to the nullification of the party’s provincial structure.

Resistance

An ANC insider told City Press the meeting with the KwaZulu-Natal leadership was intended to take them into their confidence, because it’s Zuma’s home province and they may not take kindly to his ousting.

“They are trying to manage it so it doesn’t have a negative impact and is not taken the wrong way,” said the leader.

Yesterday, a march by a group of KwaZulu Natal indunas to air their grievances was turned into a “hands-off Zuma” gathering.

This is an indication that resistance to his departure may extend beyond ANC members and become an ethnic issue.

Those opposing Zuma’s early exit include new secretary-general Ace Magashule, who has warned Ramaphosa backers against being triumphalists.

Magashule used the funeral of his ally Sandile Msibi on Thursday to warn ANC leaders and members in the Ramaphosa camp.

Some were refusing to implement the decisions of the ANC because someone lied to them and told them “siphethe” (they are in charge).

“There are people who think that they are in charge because Zuma is no longer president of the ANC.

"They say retshwere, o tshwere eng? (What are you in charge of?) So, leaders of the ANC, wherever you are, you are going to implement the decisions of the ANC,” he said.

He suggested he was ready for a fight if others continued preaching lies about siphethe.

“I’m not a coward. My only fear is God, but if you want a war, if you really want it and keep lying to people that you have won, let’s see it.”

Magashule narrowly and controversially defeated former KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu at the December conference.

He acknowledged that he was not everyone’s darling.

“There is no way you will all love me. But I have to love all of you. There is no way I will satisfy all of you. Populists are the ones who satisfy everybody. That’s why they can’t take decisions.”

Magashule defended Zuma amid calls that he resign or be recalled.

He criticised Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba for pushing for Zuma’s recall. “Where did he get his mandate to meddle like that?” Magashule asked.

He told the clergy at the funeral that they were being too quiet.

“When men of the cloth insult the ANC, you must tell that Makgoba: ‘Do not speak ill of our president’.”

“If you fail to do the right thing you must offer to resign”

However, new ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe has intimated that Zuma should resign to help the ANC chart a way forward.

At a wreath-laying ceremony for former ANC president Oliver Tambo on Friday, ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe said: “If you fail to do the right thing you must offer to resign.”

The party needed to rid itself of corruption, he added.

“If it does [work to rid itself of corruption] you will appreciate that state capture is not a myth.”

He accused some people of moving “to appoint DGs and board members in a rush so that when Cyril takes over responsibility they already put their own people”.

Doing that amounted to “corruption”, he said.

“What you are doing is you are appointing a president in Nasrec, but you put blocks around him,” he said.

It’s understood that Zuma has not yet been engaged privately, and that meeting could possibly happen as soon as consultation with KwaZulu-Natal is concluded.

However, it remained unclear whether Zuma would meet a Tuesday deadline to leave office without being pushed.

A lieutenant of Ramaphosa’s said the idea was to get Zuma to agree to leave before the NEC meeting on Wednesday, to avoid it descending into a confrontation about his future.

There is a feeling among some Zuma allies that he should leave on his own terms, rather than subject himself to the humiliation of an opposition-led impeachment process which, unlike the votes of no-confidence, would have large support among ANC MPs.

Ramaphosa’s confidants said that while Zuma’s backers would resist his departure, they expect that the president himself might not put up too much of a fight.

“He is vulnerable because he needs help with all the legal cases that must still be concluded,” said one.

He said the president’s status enabled him to pay a lot of his “exorbitant” medical expenses.

“If he refuses to resign and is forced out, he might lose out on some of the benefits.”

The Ramaphosa inner circle is convinced that many of Zuma’s purported defenders will not hesitate to abandon him in favour of negotiating positions for themselves.

A number of them are already reaching out to Ramaphosa and his advisers.

City Press has learnt that the ANC’s new deputy president, David Mabuza, would prefer that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma run the country until the elections next year, or join Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings as his number two until then.

Mabuza would prefer to focus on his new role as ANC deputy president and use it to pursue his project of forging unity in the party until 2019.

But one of Ramaphosa’s backers said Mabuza wants to appease Zuma supporters for allegedly “betraying” Dlamini-Zuma during the elections, when Mpumalanga delegates voted for her rival. Mabuza is the ANC’s chairperson in that province.

“He is therefore trying to reach out to them with this olive branch,” he said.

President of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association Kebby Maphatsoe said the NEC would focus on preparing the January 8 anniversary statement and not Zuma’s future.

“There is an obsession with the removal of the president. I don’t know why people are preoccupied about it when they should be preoccupied with resolutions of conference and how we move forward and implement them,” he said.

“This thing of going to the media and calling for Zuma to resign will destroy the president. KwaZulu-Natal is not in the top six and we need to ensure they heal.

"They come with voters, so if you start with this you will make comrades angry.”

He said people were simply looking for positions.

“The delegates of the ANC have spoken and said they want unity in the ANC and hence voted in that manner.

"The NEC must sustain unity, which will assist the ANC. No NEC member must be able to destroy that unity hardly a month later.

"We must protect and ensure it’s implemented in provinces so we do away with hatred among ourselves,” Maphatsoe said.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  nkosazana dlamini-zuma  |  cyril ramaphosa

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