Columns 29.12.2017 05:31 am

Ramaphosa scoring points

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa will find it hard to recall Jacob Zuma as state president, stop corruption in loss making SOEs, and make credible appointments to replace discredited ones in state institutions, the writer says. Picture: Bloomberg

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa will find it hard to recall Jacob Zuma as state president, stop corruption in loss making SOEs, and make credible appointments to replace discredited ones in state institutions, the writer says. Picture: Bloomberg

They waited in the garden of the Union Buildings until Ramaphosa came down to meet with them. That impressed the Group of 4 – ‘that he sat on an ordinary beach chair listening to their plight’.

If I were Cyril Ramaphosa I would be thoroughly peeved at all the patronising articles and lists of advice dished out to him left, right and centre.

Many castigate Ramaphosa for having made big compromises with President Jacob Zuma on state capture, corruption, and government malfeasance.

Few understand that to have snatched the crown from Zuma, he had to play along, while strategizing from within how to unseat an all-powerful tyrant.

It meant exploiting the president’s weaknesses, checking out the loopholes, in order to beat Number One at his own game. A tribe in Papua New Guinea would refer to this as “fattening you with friendship for the slaughter”.

I have no doubt that Ramaphosa, with his sharp political instincts, needs no advice from us. Already he is beginning to make his mark. Stroke one was to convince his followers to accept the outcome of the rigged elections in favour of Ace Magashule.

The method in his madness will soon become clear.

Stroke two was to meet with the Khoisan leaders, on hunger strike at the Union Buildings, to listen to their grievances, long ignored by both Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma.

By doing so, Ramaphosa knew he had nothing to lose. Also, as someone from a minority tribe, the Venda (700 000 people based in Limpopo, as opposed to eight million Xhosa, and 10-11 million Zulus), he has full sympathy for their cause.

He knows what it means to be discriminated against on the grounds of ethnicity regardless of merit and qualifications and experienced the full might of Nguni superiority within the ANC.

The negation of the San and Khoi as the first peoples of South Africa has always been a sore point in the ANC where hegemonic power has always been a battle between the Xhosa and the Zulu. Under Mbeki, the Xhosa headed up all the levers of power, the Eastern Cape being their power base.

When Zuma ascended the throne he quickly reversed the Xhosa dominance, replacing it with Zulu cadre deployment, transforming KZN into his power base.

In the greater scheme of things, size matters, hence the refusal of the two dominant tribes to recognise the San and Khoi as the first indigenous people of SA.

The Group of 4, under the leadership of Chief Khoisan SA, weathered the storms from November 13 onwards, passing through Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Pretoria to take their plight to the Union Buildings.

Upon their arrival they were allegedly prevented from entering the Union Buildings on the basis of their attire.

Why is the Zulu King allowed to wear his traditional gear but not the first peoples? Refusing to budge, they waited in the garden of the Union Buildings until Ramaphosa came down to meet with them.

That impressed the Group of 4 – “that he sat on an ordinary beach chair listening to their plight”. Their demands included recognition of the language of the San and Khoi.

While it was part of the coat of arms, they complained, nowhere was the indigenous language given recognition or status.

The long walk to Khoisan freedom might just become shorter under Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa in lead but this is why analysts caution there is no clear winner ahead of ANC conference

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