DA decides not to fight Ramaphosa like it did Zuma

Former president Jacob Zuma, left, and President Cyril Ramaphosa shake hands at a farewell cocktail function for Zuma, in a picture released by the South African government. Picture: GCIS/AFP

Former president Jacob Zuma, left, and President Cyril Ramaphosa shake hands at a farewell cocktail function for Zuma, in a picture released by the South African government. Picture: GCIS/AFP

While Maimane seems unafraid to take Ramaphosa to task, party insiders say the DA has strategised that the president is too popular to take on nationally.

Makashule Gana, a top member of the DA’s 2019 campaign team, told The Sunday Times the party is “prioritising voters” rather than focussing on “fighting Cyril and trying to sound better than him”.

Gana said the party’s job “is not to fight Cyril” but to “fight for South Africans,” adding that the DA believes the president must “do what he needs to do” to save South Africa and that the party will do the same.

This contrasts with the party’s approach when it came to Zuma, with a source from within the DA telling The Sunday Times “Zuma was the centre of problems SA faced, therefore it was wise to go after him”.

This comment was part of the a report indicating that, according to party insiders, the DA has shelved plans to attempt to form a national coalition government, and will be focussing on trying to limit the ANC’s share of the vote to less than 50% because Ramaphosa is “well liked” and the party had to be “realistic” about its chances against him.

The full story is available in The Sunday Times.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane, in contrast to what the report indicates, does appear to be taking on the president as a central part of his campaign messaging.

Speaking at a DA 2019 election event in uMlazi in Durban last week, Maimane said Eskom’s latest bout of load shedding proved Ramaphosa is clearly not in charge, is simply the face of the African National Congress’s election campaign, and his promise of a new dawn is nothing but empty rhetoric intended to fool voters ahead of the election.

Not long afterwards, Maimane accused Ramaphosa of failing to be transparent on the full extent of Eskom’s power supply and financial crises.

READ MORE: Ramaphosa isn’t in charge of the ANC, it’s the other way around – Maimane

“At a time at which our country is facing an unprecedented electricity crisis – with persistent power cuts being the new normal – President Ramaphosa is obfuscating the truth and refuses to play open cards with the people of South Africa,” Maimane said.

“For a man who has been in charge of turning around Eskom’s fortunes since 2014, he owes South Africa not just an explanation, but the full truth as to the extent of the crisis – including his government’s full plan to deal with this crisis.

“The time for manufactured ‘shock’ and simple apologies from the president is over.”

Maimane said he had written to Ramaphosa asking that he outline the full extent of the energy crisis and explain the total amount of debt owed by the power utility and the repayment schedule on the amount owed.

The DA leader had strong words for the president at a debate in response to this year’s State of the Nation address (Sona), telling him was not the one in charge of the country, and that it was rather his party, the ANC, in charge of him. This mattered, he claimed, because former president Jacob Zuma allegedly still holds sway over the ANC.

“It’s them who are in charge, not you,” said Maimane, pointing at the ANC caucus. “That’s why you love spending time oversees, because there the ANC is not around,” he continued.

According to Maimane, when Ramaphosa was in Davos “and being interviewed by foreign press” he could “say whatever” he liked, but on return he was met with the ANC of people such as Deputy President David Mabuza, reinstated North West chairperson Supra Mahumapelo and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.

“That’s the ANC that is in charge,” he added.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Additional reporting, ANA)

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