‘Bossy’ whites anger Cyril backers
Ramaphosa’s bid for presidency said to hit turbulence over race
Racial tensions are threatening to split Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign, with senior party leaders complaining that an “all-white” management team is hobbling their efforts to canvass support.
Insiders told the Sunday Times this week that the white Ramaphosa aides were in charge of finances and fundraising and had become “gatekeepers”.
Some members of the campaign were so frustrated at the situation that they were considering quitting, the sources said.
One of the insiders said Roelf Meyer, the former National Party cabinet minister who worked closely with Ramaphosa during the transition to democracy in the 1990s, had been informally involved in backing Ramaphosa’s bid to succeed President Jacob Zuma.
But both Meyer and Bejani Chauke, Ramaphosa’s campaign manager, denied this. Meyer said he was no longer involved in politics.
While Chauke is managing the campaign on a political level, its administration is being run by Donné Nicol, CEO of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, and Marion Sparg, who ran Ramaphosa’s office when he was secretary-general of the ANC.
The insiders accused the two women of “pulling the strings”, “undermining senior politicians” and “disregarding anyone besides the whites in the campaign”.
Sparg did not respond to requests for comment and Nicol referred the Sunday Times to Chauke.
The core management team includes Ramaphosa’s special adviser, Steyn Speed, and businessman and ANC activist Crispian Olver.
Politicians involved in Ramaphosa’s campaign said the “all-white top management team” gave ammunition to Ramaphosa’s detractors inside and outside the ANC that he was “managed by white people”.
This week EFF leader Julius Malema told a rally: “Cyril Ramaphosa is not black, he is non-white. Everything else he is doing in his life is to please white people. We can’t say he is black.”
On Tuesday a campaign meeting in Johannesburg heard fresh concerns about the racial tension, and a team of top politicians was tasked with raising the matter with Ramaphosa.
“Our own campaigners want to know why they are being dictated to by these people. Small decisions can’t be taken without them. They handle the fundraising, how every last cent is spent and who does what,” one insider said.
This had caused unhappiness, with some in the campaign even suggesting a “third-way campaign”, he said.
“[The whites] are condescending to the people who are on the ground.
“And you know the sensitivity of what we are doing. Some people are risking their jobs and their lives, especially in KwaZulu-Natal. So you can’t have a situation where Senzo Mchunu is treated like a nobody. He can’t get any work done because his travel is not approved, his security detail is cut down etcetera by these people.”
Mchunu, a former premier of KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the lead campaigners for the deputy president.
ANC NEC member and Ramaphosa supporter Enoch Godongwana played down the differences . “Because the campaign is popular, there were different campaign groups that have merged. In the process it is taking time to know each other. There have been some challenges. But we are in control. It’s not a train smash,” said Godongwana.
Chauke also rejected the allegations of racial tensions. “Any suggestionthis group is dominated by any particular racial or ethnic group is untrue. Such claims are no doubt intended to undermine the preparations. Roelf Meyer is not involved at all in this work.”
The campaign meeting on Tuesday also heard that Ramaphosa was gaining in popularity and had majority support among ANC members in all nine provinces.
One senior party member who is part of the Ramaphosa campaign said approaches had been made to Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza to bring him on board after he fell out with the “premier league” group backing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Woman deputy wanted
This ANC source, a member of the national executive committee, said the Ramaphosa campaign was considering backing Mchunu as a candidate for secretary-general of the party. Campaign leaders favoured Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile as party treasurer-general, the source said.
Current secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, it emerged this week, is being backed by the Ramaphosa grouping to replace Baleka Mbete – who is seen as pro-Zuma – as national chairperson of the ANC. New positions for Mabuza and current treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize are still being discussed.
“Over the next month we’re going to finalise who must accompany Cyril in the top six,” said the senior ANC member, who did not want to be identified.
“Regarding who should deputise comrade CR, we have not finalised on the name yet but we’re agreeing on the principle of having a woman as a deputy president, that’s settled. All we are doing now is to identify the right candidate.”