Seeing through the Ramaphosa/Zuma bromance

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Former South African President Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa during the election manifesto launch of the African National Congress in Durban on Saturday. With Zuma wielding influence and authority over Ramaphosa, it is unclear whether any attempt to prosecute the networks at the heart of state capture can go ahead. And their alliance has arguably left the work of the Zondo Commission without political protection and open to attack by powerful lobbies.PHOTO: REuters
Former South African President Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa during the election manifesto launch of the African National Congress in Durban on Saturday. With Zuma wielding influence and authority over Ramaphosa, it is unclear whether any attempt to prosecute the networks at the heart of state capture can go ahead. And their alliance has arguably left the work of the Zondo Commission without political protection and open to attack by powerful lobbies.PHOTO: REuters

The fake bromance between Cyril Ramaphosa and Jacob Zuma is like a third rate soap opera. The plot is not credible, the dialogue is weak and the actors are pathetic.

We know Ramaphosa can't stand Zuma and says nasty things about him behind his back. In public he very respectfully calls him Nxamalala, thanks him for his contribution in syrupy language and promises him jobs.

The Zuma lot's gossip about Ramaphosa is even more vicious and they are undermining and sabotaging him at every turn.

READ: Do we expect Mbeki to explain his lack of interest in Zuma?

Most of us watching know that the subtext determines that Ramaphosa be comradely and warm to Zuma so he would remain in the ANC kraal and his followers would still vote ANC in May.

Once the ANC has scored a decisive electoral victory, the subtext continues, we will see the Real Cyril. He will change direction; he will clean up government; he will whip the economy into shape, even when the measures are unpalatable to his left wing; he will pull the sting out of the land issue; and he will bring an end to the reckless populism in the governing party.

Some of the soapie viewers say Cyril is spineless, others say he's a master tactician.

We will have to wait until after the election to find out who was right. Until then, prepare yourself for more sickeningly sweet love scenes between the two.

Perhaps Ramaphosa is bargaining that the Zondo commission and the new blood at the national prosecuting authority will do his dirty work for him and discredit Zuma, his benefactors and cronies to such an extent that they're virtually neutralised.

Personally I think the suggestion coming out of KZN on the weekend, that Zuma should be offered an ambassadorship, is a good idea. It would take him out of circulation and end his toxic role in our politics.

But the right victim country should be chosen. I would propose Somalia, Yemen, Syria or South Sudan.

But even if Nxamalala sits in Mogadishu or Juba, the real adder in the bosom is still here and isn't planning to go anywhere, unless he is given orange overalls soon: ANC secretary general Ace Magashule.

Magashule was recorded last year saying to Zuma followers at a private gathering that people shouldn't worry, Ramaphosa will only be leading the ANC until the next ANC national conference.

The DA just loves this story and runs around selling the narrative that a vote for Cyril is actually a vote for David Mabuza, his deputy, because the ANC is going to kick out Ramaphosa in 2022.

I suppose it's possible that this could happen, but if it does, he won't be replaced by Mabuza. Neither camp in the ANC can stand him. We will have to wait to see which leading figure in the Zuma camp isn't in jail by then before we can speculate about a replacement.

Every time I talk to people in the Ramaphosa inner circle, they tell me that he is going to drastically reduce the size of the executive and the civil service after the election; that he will turn the state-owned enterprises back into profitability; introduce public/private partnerships; that he will make sure that the expropriation without compensation project does no damage to agriculture or the economy; and that he will clean up the ANC of crooks and charlatans.

I think he genuinely wants to do these things. But we now know that his opposition inside his own party is still much stronger than he (and most observers) had anticipated.

Ramaphosa doesn't only want a full term until the next election in 2024, he wants a second term as president until 2029.

How realistic is it to expect that he won't be inhibited by the possibility of an early recall?

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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