ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has hit out at President Jacob Zuma and the Guptas in a fiery speech.
Speaking yesterday at the South African Communist Party’s Chris Hani Memorial Lecture at the Babs Madlakane Hall in KwaNobuhle, near Uitenhage, Ramaphosa said the ANC needed to “honestly and directly own up to the problems” the party faced.
He said change was coming at the ANC’s elective conference in December.
“We might have spoken about renewal in the past, but if there ever was a time where we have to act to renew and unite our movement, this 54th conference coming in December is going to be that time.”
Though he did not categorically state his acceptance to be nominated for ANC president, he unofficially opened his campaign.
More than 1000 members of the alliance confirmed that Ramaphosa was their preferred candidate in the race for the ANC presidency. In thunderous tones they sang in unison that they wanted Zuma to vacate his office and relinquish power to Ramaphosa.
“uZuma asimfuni, sifunuCyril [We don’t want Zuma, we want Cyril],” they shouted and sang at the top of their voices, as Ramaphosa joined them in dancing.
They cheered and danced, indicating that they had had enough of Zuma’s reign as ANC president.
Feisty SACP district chairperson, Msingathi Sipuka, said he trusted the Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth areas to stand up and do what had to be done when it was necessary.
“The people of this area are not cowards,” said Sipuka.
“They stand up when they have to.”
But Ramaphosa also didn’t miss the opportunity to bludgeon Zuma and the Guptas.
Speaking to City Press, Ramaphosa said nominations for president had not opened.
“People are expressing themselves in every way they can. Even those who may be keen to be nominated will only be able to respond when the actual nominations start,” he said.
Ramaphosa commended Chris Hani’s character in a speech that sang praises to the fallen struggle hero. The undertones of his speech were a clear benchmark of desirable leadership qualities.
“Chris Hani is still loved, whether they like it or not. He is still loved,” said Ramaphosa.
“He had the best ideas; he did not have rotten ideas.”
In an obvious attack on Zuma, he hailed Hani as a scandal-free leader of the people.
“He did not have scandals. He was a selfless leader, a courageous soldier,” Ramaphosa said.
“Comrade Hani did not allow himself to be captured by other interests, but only that of the African National Congress and of the people.
“When we talk about Chris Hani and his commitment to the struggle, we think of how extraordinary he was,” he said.
“He was not like many comrades that we see today who are inaccessible to the multitudes.”
As if gaining courage by the cheers of the crowds, Ramaphosa escalated to levels that mentioned the specifics of the crisis within the ANC.
Ramaphosa said across all ANC-linked structures comrades were saying there was a deep crisis.
He said those who were denialists would dig their heads in the sand like ostriches and say there was no crisis.
The challenge was how to deal with the cancer that had set in within the movement, he said, and solutions were needed for the problems they faced.
“Comrade Chris Hani would have been the first to say we need to be honest among ourselves,” said Ramaphosa.
“The ANC cannot fulfil its mission if it is divided. Divisions in our ranks make the ANC weaker.”
He said the ANC used to be the go-to organisation – even if you were not a member – but that is now in the past.
“We have now lost that position and are no longer the leaders of society; society is moving away from us.”
He said the ANC no longer represented the people’s hope for a better future.
Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle heightened the tensions in the ANC, he said, causing comrades to have bitter exchanges in public and on social media.
The key problem areas as identified by Ramaphosa were gatekeeping, factionalism, state capture, powers given to private individuals to appoint and fire, and undue influence over state appointments by certain families (referring to the Guptas).
“These matters should be of great importance to our movement,” said Ramaphosa.
“Comrades don’t want us to speak about these but we have to speak about them. We need to self-diagnose to find out what the problem is,” he said.
“The problem is money in our movement; money is being passed around in envelopes.
“Kuthengwa amavote, money is the currency of buying votes in our movement,” Ramaphosa told the crowd.
He said it was critical that state capture allegations be put to rest.
“We know there’s an elephant in the room but we’re not addressing it. It walks among us!”
Ramaphosa’s message was met with mixed views.
While some were impressed with his speech, others said it was nothing new coming from him.
An ANC member from Uitenhage, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said Ramaphosa was all talk and no action.
“He is the same guy who changed tunes on us only a few weeks ago. He is just setting himself for support, that is all,” he said.
“The challenge to stop the ‘Zunami’ requires a man with balls of steel. Ramaphosa isn’t that man, in my opinion.”