Cyril: Bring it on!
‘Let what has to happen, happen.”
That is the attitude of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and his presidential campaign team as speculation mounts that he is about to get the chop and be criminally charged for treason.
Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign lobbyists believe that he will be removed in order to facilitate the appointment of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma so that she can establish a commission of inquiry into state capture.
His lobbyists said they were aware of plans to also arrest Ramaphosa and charge him with treason in November, just ahead of the ANC’s December conference.
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When President Jacob Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet this week, he left the position of deputy minister in the presidency unoccupied, sparking fresh speculation that another round of reshuffling was on the cards.
Ramaphosa’s longtime friend, former National Union of Mineworkers president James Motlatsi, told City Press that Zuma had never wanted Ramaphosa as his deputy in the first place.
“Before he was elected president in 2007, Zuma told military veterans during an address that they were not being cared for precisely because the ANC elected Cyril as secretary general of ANC in 1991.
“Cyril was not active politically then, but Zuma still mentioned him by name.
“When Cyril was approached to be Zuma’s deputy, I warned him. I said: ‘Look, there are no permanent friends and foes in politics, but I don’t think this comrade likes you.’”
A lobbyist in Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign said they were aware that the president was under pressure to appoint a commission of inquiry into state capture. But because Zuma himself was implicated in state capture allegations, he could not appoint the commission, but had to leave it to his deputy.
“The president does not trust Cyril with the appointment of the judge and the terms of reference. They want the commission to be like the arms deal, which dragged on forever. Witnesses were frustrated and there was no real outcome.”
But these comments have been dismissed by the presidency, who insist that Zuma “will definitely appoint the commission himself”.
Presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said the allegation about Ramaphosa’s removal was pure gossip and rumour, and they would not respond to it.
Regarding the establishment of a commission to probe state capture, he said: “The Constitution clearly stipulates that only the president has the power to appoint commissions of inquiry, as stipulated in section 84.
“President Zuma has stated on numerous occasions that he intends to appoint the commission to investigate allegations of state capture and corruption.
“It is a constitutional responsibility he will not, and cannot, delegate to anybody. He will definitely appoint the commission personally.”
“Let what has to happen, happen”
On Tuesday, the Pretoria High Court will hear an application by Zuma to review a recommendation by former public protector Thuli Madonsela that the commission should be headed by a judge, appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng instead of the president.
Motlatsi said Zuma’s lobbyists were campaigning by tarnishing Ramaphosa’s image, claiming that “he was a CIA and MI5 spy, and that if he were elected, he would sell the country to Western capitalists”.
Motlatsi said he was surprised that Zuma, who had claimed to be a victim of state institutions in 2007, was now applying exactly the same tactics against his opponents.
But Motlatsi said he was convinced that if Zuma removed Ramaphosa, it would actually help the deputy president. “Let what has to happen, happen. But it will intensify his campaign. The sooner they remove him, the better for him, for the ANC and for the country.”
The Ramaphosa lobbyist said such a removal would also give the deputy president enough time to dedicate to his campaign.
“That would allow us to have him 24 hours. At the moment, we can only have him on weekends,” he said.
The lobbyist added that they had been warned that the last two months of the campaign would be tough.
He said it was now up to Zuma to deal with the expectation he had created that Dlamini-Zuma would be appointed to Cabinet.
A source in the Dlamini-Zuma camp conceded that they were taken aback by Ramaphosa’s acceptance of his fate in Parliament this week.
Ramaphosa told members of the National Assembly on Thursday that he served at the pleasure of the president and that he would accept a removal if it came to that.
He added that he would find another way to serve South Africa.
“I was appointed deputy president. I accepted the appointment because it is the president’s prerogative to appoint or to remove anybody on the executive, and if the decision is to remove me, I will accept that as a decision that will have been taken by the president and I will continue serving the people of South Africa in one form or shape or another. That is all I can say on this matter,” Ramaphosa said.
“We did not anticipate that he would just accept it like that. That changed things a bit,” said the Dlamini-Zuma lobbyist.
“Of course, there is no knowing exactly what the president will do, but for now, it seems unlikely that he will remove him. This is chess and the next move belongs to the SA Communist Party. Once we know what decision that central executive committee takes with regard to its other members who are in Cabinet, we will go from there.
“The real reshuffle is still coming. This was just to deal with the communists and test to see how far they are actually willing to go. The ball is in their court.”
“The president’s actions are actions of a desperate man”
Meanwhile, Nzimande told City Press how he felt when he received the call from Zuma informing him of his dismissal. “I hardly felt anything. It is something I have been expecting to happen, especially given the silly period in the last two to three years.
“There is some relief, though, in the sense that I get a break from some of the challenges,” added Nzimande.
He said the department of higher education had become one of the most difficult to manage because it had huge responsibilities but was seriously underfunded, which created a number of problems.
Regarding talk of Ramaphosa’s imminent axing, Nzimande said: “I heard rumours just like you have heard rumours. I think it will be a stupid mistake. The president’s actions are actions of a desperate man.”
He would not elaborate on why Zuma acted in the manner that he did, saying: “I don’t know why he is acting in that way. It is very clear that some of the actions are desperate.”
Meanwhile, City Press understands that Sdumo Dlamini, the president of labour federation Cosatu, told other national office bearers that he had received a call from Zuma, informing him about the reshuffle.
Zuma allegedly told Dlamini that he was firing Nzimande because the ANC could not have someone who did whatever they wanted.
He said Nzimande, as a member of Cabinet deployed by him, had increasingly become critical. Zuma asked what he was supposed to say to people who asked him why he was allowing Nzimande to go off on a tangent and attack him.
At the national office bearers’ meeting, a debate ensued on whether that was enough, considering that informing someone and consulting were two different things.
Cosatu’s general secretary, Bheki Ntshalintshali, was not at the meeting as he was travelling, so this enabled Dlamini to have his way. There was a deadlock and the statement released by Cosatu in reaction to the Cabinet reshuffle was watered down because of disagreements. Those parts of Cosatu’s statement that mentioned Nzimande and called for a political summit to discuss Zuma were removed.