Ramaphosa campaign strengthens (2016)

Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to secure the ANC presidency in December has moved into higher gear. He still faces major obstacles to success including an incumbent Zuma faction that has strong support in rural areas, the likelihood of electoral manipulation and the lack of a personal power base.

But a series of countervailing factors mean Ramaphosa’s challenge has become more than credible.

He may not be young, but he is modern. The KwaZulu-Natal block vote that cemented Jacob Zuma’s dominance has fractured. Ramaphosa’s candidacy has been energetically promoted in the province of his birth, Gauteng, and in Limpopo, where he has family roots.

The electoral arithmetic no longer clearly favours the “premier league” provinces — Mpumalanga, North West and Free State. Figures released at the ANC’s national general council in 2015 indicate the provinces have a membership of 230,000, barely more than the three Cape provinces, where there is strong anti-Zuma sentiment.

Two potentially Ramaphosa-leaning provinces, Gauteng and Limpopo, recorded more than 80,000 members each, while KwaZulu-Natal membership fell by almost half to 160,000.

These data are all highly questionable. Ultimate conference support will depend on the control (or otherwise) of vote buying and gatekeeping and the regulation of interference in branch decision-making.

Ramaphosa has, however, become a beneficiary of the politics of “hard factionalism”.

Where factions are hard, mutually exclusive slates of candidates face off in a winner-takes-all election. Politicians want to be on the winning side, but also to be “insiders” who benefit from their faction’s victory by getting access to resources, jobs and protection.

Where no such benefits are likely to accrue, political entrepreneurs have strong incentives to defect to an anti-incumbent faction. This will comprise a diversity of aggrieved activists who know they must stick together if they are to win.

The ANC’s nomination process similarly militates towards a two-faction race. Each province or league can nominate only one candidate for each position, and this means “compromise” or “third” candidates cannot get a foot in the door.

So, the ANC will probably have a two-horse and two-faction race at the end of the year.

And Ramaphosa has established himself as one of the horses.

The other horse, it seems, is likely to be AU Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Her rise was planned many moons ago, her sojourn at the AU since 2012 primarily a seniority-building exercise. While her candidacy for the ANC presidency no doubt seemed a good idea at the time, the ANC now has a real electoral battle on its hands.

Dlamini-Zuma will be 70 in April 2019, when the national and provincial elections roll round. Her speeches reduce younger audiences to despair. Whatever her underlying personal merits may be, she will exemplify nepotism, gerontocracy and deference to rural barons.

Naïve pro-Zuma politicians have precipitately locked Dlamini-Zuma’s candidacy into place. Feigning concern for gender equity, they have made imprudent commitments that cannot be easily withdrawn. This is promising news for Ramaphosa. He was always going to have difficulty prevailing over ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize in any contest.

Now, thanks to electoral factionalism in the ANC, he faces a far less capable opponent. There is every chance he will win.


• Butler teaches public policy at the University of Cape Town

2016 election disaster changes ANC’s leadership dynamic

Competitive elections are starting to change the dynamics of leadership succession in the governing party. The electoral dominance of the ANC in the past two decades has made the movement self-indulgent about its leadership choices. Provinces in which power and money are deeply entwined, and in which internal party processes are most easily manipulated, have come to dominate internal elections. Citizens have been taken for granted.

The result has been the selection of national executive committee (NEC) members who are the pawns of provincial and regional power brokers. Candidates have been chosen for public office despite being patently unable to discharge their responsibilities. ANC representatives and leaders partially satisfy internal constituencies, but they disappoint voters.

The likelihood that citizens will push back against this state of affairs in the 2019 national and provincial elections is sinking in. This realisation is influencing how ANC activists view the elective conference scheduled for the end of next year. It is also changing the way in which factions are being conceived and consolidated in advance of that gathering.

There are three broad approaches to the problem posed by competitive elections. First, some leaders argue that any new ANC leadership should appeal to the growing numbers of urban electors who failed to support the movement in the recent local government elections. This “modernisation” approach would presumably see the elevation of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa or ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize to the ANC presidency, a drive to populate the NEC with more capable and independent-minded cadres, and a crackdown on visible corruption.

The second approach is to place the EFF at the centre of the ANC’s leadership succession processes. If the ANC falls below 50% at provincial or national level, the EFF will be on hand with the 10% or so needed to form a coalition government. The proponents of such an approach want wholesale change in the ANC’s leadership, and the skipping of a generation. Former ANC Youth League leaders would then take their rightful place at the top table and facilitate a deal with the EFF.

The third approach is to intensify the patronage system that reins in the premier league provinces, and to apply it more systematically across the country as a whole. It is tempting, but mistaken, to laugh at the suggestion that Free State premier Ace Magashule or his Mpumalanga counterpart, David Mabuza, could be elevated to the top six of the ANC. In the poorer parts of SA, the unbroken transfer of resources from national government to provinces, where they can be quite freely distributed, is the only world some politicians have known.

Many of these leaders are hostile to democratic competition, and willing to join forces with those who want the troublesome uncertainty of electoral politics to be brought to a complete end. Economic reality is no obstacle to their plans. Beyond the party elites in the cities, many ANC activists believe the parastatals are doing just fine. The real problem, they argue, is Treasury obstructionism. Now would be a good time to liberate people’s savings and redeploy them in the national interest.

These different ways of thinking about the leadership challenge posed by elections are all of questionable cogency. Modernisation and clean government did not help the ANC retain Johannesburg. The EFF is a terribly unreliable partner in which to invest electoral hopes. And citizens will probably not take kindly to attempts to rig elections or to bankrupt the country.

The fate of the ANC in the Western Cape demonstrates that another possible response to the threat of defeat is also on the cards: an orgy of political self-destruction.

Butler teaches public policy at the University of Cape Town.


Motsoeneng for UCT Vice-Chancellor?


Butler teaches public policy at UCT

Hawks sabotage manifesto launch


RECRIMINATIONS continue in the African National Congress (ANC), following poor attendance at its manifesto launch in Port Elizabeth last weekend. ANC Eastern Cape secretary Oscar Mabuyane made light of the issue, attributing low turnout to transport complications, balmy weather, and the attractiveness of nearby beaches. But the ANC’s elections team, headed by Nomvula Mokonyane, refused to believe that poor organisation, leadership corruption and the virtual absence of Eastern Cape politicians in national government explained local disaffection.

ANC insiders hinted that the low turnout resulted from efforts to embarrass President Jacob Zuma or local mayor, Danny Jordaan. Now an explosive secret dossier from the reputable Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) provides compelling evidence that the event was “sabotaged”.

Invites for the launch were apparently sent out through the South African Post Office. “Why,” the Hawks dossier asks, “would invitations be sent out through the post office, when everyone knows they could not possibly arrive at the right addresses and in time for the event?”

Detectives found clues that “capitalist hegemony” had undermined ANC transport logistics. They cited Mabuyane’s complaint that bus drivers “demanded a 50% upfront payment due to their previous experiences with (ANC) nonpayment”. “It is neoliberal ideology,” claimed the Hawks’ new monopoly capitalism unit, “that leads bus companies to expect payment, even for patriotic services.”

The report also supported the ANC Women’s League’s recent claims that financial institutions “are biased towards their imperialist masters”.

“I came to Port Elizabeth to hear the powerful people who actually run the country,” one unhappy crowd member told the Hawks. “Thanks to the banks, they went to Dubai instead.”

The Hawks insist that recently recruited party members from KwaZulu-Natal, bombarded by the media with anti-Zuma propaganda, were too dispirited to join ANC celebrations. Instead, they threatened to form a breakaway party (rumoured provisionally to be named the Inkatha Freedom Party) if any attempt was made to recall Zuma.

Many taxis, the Hawks probe found, were unavailable on the day. Investigators discovered that taxi bosses have signed lucrative long-term contracts to ferry millions of unsold copies of The New Age newspaper to the Koedoeskloof waste disposal site in Uitenhage at weekends.

Detectives also questioned why Independent Newspapers boss Iqbal Survé was not on the podium: “If Dr Survé had been there,” the dossier notes, “pictures of the event would have been splashed across their front pages all week.”

The Hawks’ forensic team alleged that “foreign intelligence agents” had penetrated Luthuli House’s merchandising division. Referring to the thick blue lines across the Top Six’s yellow ANC golf shirts, Hawks fashion consultants claimed: “Men with a low centre of gravity like Mr (Gwede) Mantashe should never wear horizontal stripes. It is suspicious when struggle leaders’ shirts make them look like giant bumblebees.”

Hinting at the identity of one possible conspirator in the turnout fiasco, detectives observed that “no McDonald’s beef burgers or fries were distributed in the stadium”. They quoted one national executive committee member as follows: “Comrade Cyril (Ramaphosa) does not understand why we voted for him at Mangaung. We are sick of all these chicken legs.”

Top Hawks investigators described as “further irrefutable proof of sabotage” the fact that a rented train, intended to ferry thousands of ANC supporters to Port Elizabeth, was left stranded in Gauteng. A spokesman for the Passenger Rail Agency of SA told investigators there were “definitely signs of foul play … Someone has made the tracks the wrong size for our new trains.”

• Butler teaches public policy at the University of Cape Town

Zuma’s survival (2016)

THE Constitutional Court’s argument that President Jacob Zuma “failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution” remains compelling, notwithstanding some creative African National Congress (ANC) obfuscation this week. By allowing himself to be unlawfully enriched, Zuma acted in clear breach of his constitutional obligations. Nevertheless, it would not suit key actors if the president were to leave office before the local elections, scheduled for August 3.

For opposition parties, Zuma is a gift that keeps on giving. An alliance of convenience between the Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters, United Democratic Movement and Congress of the People was signalled when party leaders stood shoulder to shoulder outside Parliament on Tuesday. They know the metropolitan municipalities up for grabs in August are powerful sites of power and patronage, and present priceless opportunities to demonstrate a capacity to govern. If Zuma leaves office before August, their prospects of seizing Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Nelson Mandela Bay might well be dashed.

As for Zuma, he is now under close observation, and cannot easily meet his obligations to his allies and benefactors. The contenders for the succession cannot protect him from prosecution. It is little wonder that he is determined to stay put, shielded for now by control of the state intelligence and criminal justice machines, and by dominance of the national executive committee of the ANC.

An early departure by Zuma would also create substantial difficulties for some of the rivals for power within the liberation movement. The turkeys of the premier league are not going to vote for an early Christmas. The campaign of his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, would also struggle to get off the ground if the president took early retirement too soon.

Observers, meanwhile, have been baffled by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s defence of the president. Mantashe presumably calculates that if Zuma steps down early, there would be insufficient support in the national executive committee for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s deployment to the presidency.

Treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize would be the most likely beneficiary, or a temporary stand-in, such as planning minister Jeff Radebe, could hold the fort until the ANC’s 2017 elective conference. Either way, the Ramaphosa campaign’s momentum would be lost.

The local elections further complicate calculations. Where the ANC faces defeats, in the Cape provinces and Gauteng, disaffection with Zuma has long been evident. Afrobarometer reported last year that fewer than a quarter of citizens in Gauteng approved of his performance.

If Zuma is blamed for the loss of major municipalities in August, marginal provinces may swing decisively against him — and his preferred successors — in the 2019 national and provincial elections. Elsewhere, however, Zuma remains an electoral asset, enjoying strong support in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and other rural areas. Only a third of rural voters told Afrobarometer they believe there is corruption in the Presidency, compared to more than half of urban respondents.

Would a putsch to remove Zuma now “tear the ANC apart”, as Mantashe suggests? The claim might seem fanciful. The ANC, however, now confronts deep divides: Zuma has polarised the movement by region and by ethnicity, and his alliances with the premier league and an unpatriotic bourgeoisie have exacerbated class divisions. Mantashe is right that the ANC cannot resolve its succession conundrums right now.

But, given a relentlessly deteriorating economic and political environment, there is little reason to believe that prospects for an amicable transfer of power will be any better in 2017.

• Butler teaches public policy at the University of Cape Town

Will Zuma faction go for a Zuma 3rd term, NDZ, or Mkhize? (from 2015)

Cred­i­bil­ity is­sue hangs over Zuma fac­tion

Business Day, 4 Dec 2015

Anthony Butler

THERE was a flurry of ex­cite­ment ear­lier this week when a pseudony­mous con­trib­u­tor, “Lily Gosam”, wrote in the Rand Daily Mail that Ja­cob Zuma was pur­su­ing a third term as African Na­tional Congress (ANC) pres­i­dent in 2017. From his Luthuli House re­doubt, he will then be­come the power be­hind the throne of his suc­ces­sor as pres­i­dent, most prob­a­bly African Union (AU) Com­mis­sion chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

This is not an orig­i­nal propo­si­tion. Zuma’s pre­de­ces­sor as ANC pres­i­dent, Thabo Mbeki, was “per­suaded” in 2007 to seek a third ANC pres­i­den­tial term in Polok­wane. He, like­wise, made plans to shift gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to Luthuli House to run the coun­try. And he too chose Dlamini-Zuma as his Union Build­ings pup­pet.

Yet Zuma’s third term bid would be an even longer shot than Mbeki’s. He is al­ready 73. Afro­barom­e­ter data show he is eas­ily the most un­pop­u­lar postapartheid pres­i­dent. He alien­ates city folk and the young, which makes him a grow­ing elec­toral li­a­bil­ity.

Why then did Gosam’s ec­cen­tric idea make such a big so­cial me­dia splash? Be­cause the Zuma fac­tion has a lead­er­ship cred­i­bil­ity prob­lem. DlaminiZuma is the front-run­ner be­cause of stage-man­aged en­dorse­ments from the ANC’s youth and women’s leagues. She has ben­e­fited from the be­lated con­ver­sion to fem­i­nism of du­bi­ous pa­tri­archs from the most cor­rupt ANC prov­inces. Her min­is­te­rial fail­ures have been air­brushed. But she re­mains a poor can­di­date for the ANC or state pres­i­dency and the peo­ple who dis­dain her most are the ones who know her best. She was Mbeki’s dummy in 2007. She will be 70 in 2019 when she hopes to be­come pres­i­dent. She rep­re­sents the past.

Gosam struck a chord be­cause a DlaminiZuma term equates to a third term for Zuma. Yet ev­ery­one knows there is an al­ter­na­tive. For­mer KwaZulu-Na­tal premier Zweli Mkhize cre­ated the ANC ma­chine in his prov­ince, man­aged the in­te­gra­tion of the Inkatha Free­dom Party into the ANC, and climbed to the na­tional po­si­tion of trea­surer-gen­eral in 2012.

In the past, ANC lead­ers’ se­nior­ity came from Robben Is­land, from ex­ile or from work in pow­er­ful af­fil­i­ates. Mkhize is the first or­ganic provin­cial politi­cian to move up to na­tional level on the ba­sis of his or­gan­i­sa­tional and po­lit­i­cal skills. He is an ex­cep­tional po­lit­i­cal man­ager. He rose from hum­ble beginnings but has ac­quired the de­meanour of a pres­i­dent. He is in­ter­ested in pub­lic pol­icy. And he is no­body’s fool. In short, he is ev­ery­thing Dlamini-Zuma is not.

Why, then, is Dlamini-Zuma, and not Mkhize, the des­ig­nated suc­ces­sor for Zuma’s fac­tion?

Some ob­servers of ANC pol­i­tics claim that he has been un­able to ac­quire suf­fi­cient “se­nior­ity” to take on Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa. Af­ter all, Ramaphosa be­came ANC sec­re­tarygen­eral in 1991, when he even had Zuma as his deputy. Mkhize, in con­trast, rose to the lesser po­si­tion of trea­surer-gen­eral only two decades later. For this rea­son, they ar­gue that DlaminiZuma should serve a term be­fore hand­ing over to an un­op­posed Mkhize. But the se­nior­ity DlaminiZuma os­ten­si­bly en­joys has been granted to her pri­mar­ily by her for­mer hus­band. Zuma ex­pended un­told na­tional po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal to se­cure a se­nior AU po­si­tion for her.

If only Zuma al­lowed merit to speak, Mkhize would be­come the can­di­date to beat for the ANC pres­i­dency. It might, or might not, be a de­sir­able out­come for him to de­feat Ramaphosa in the suc­ces­sion race — some­thing he is fully equipped to do. But, ei­ther way, the coun­try would be saved from a di­rec­tion­less Dlamini-Zuma term that it can­not af­ford. Such an out­come would also res­cue the ANC from a po­ten­tially dis­as­trous elec­toral counter-re­ac­tion. How could it sur­vive the choice of an age­ing non­pres­i­dent who stands for noth­ing but the past, per­sonal pa­tron­age and pa­tri­arch-spon­sored pseudo-fem­i­nism?


But­ler teaches pol­i­tics at the Univer­sity of Cape Town

RW Johnson’s insights

John­son’s cheap thrills and se­ri­ous pos­si­bil­i­ties

Business Day, 6 Nov 2015

Anthony Butler

RW JOHN­SON’S re­cently pub­lished How Long Will South Africa Sur­vive? has been re­ceived in much the same way as EL James’ erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey. They have both been widely read, at least by English-speak­ing whites. But both have been smug­gled out of book­shops in pa­per bags, to be dis­cussed only in hushed tones and among trusted friends.

Fifty Shades (re­port­edly) con­tains ex­plicit scenes in­volv­ing bondage and sado­masochism. John­son dwells on themes that are equally tit­il­lat­ing for some read­ers: the os­ten­si­ble in­abil­ity of black na­tion­al­ists to gov­ern a “mod­ern state”, the resur­gence of trib­al­ism in do­mes­tic pol­i­tics, and the well-de­served and dev­as­tat­ing eco­nomic come­up­pance that the African Na­tional Congress (ANC) will ap­par­ently soon have to face. Al­though John­son of­ten writes for cheap thrills, there are good rea­sons for South Africans to ex­plore the cen­tral ar­gu­ment of this de­lib­er­ately provoca­tive book. John­son ob­serves that SA is deeply in­te­grated into the in­ter­na­tional cap­i­tal­ist or­der, and re­mains as de­pen­dent as ever on in­ward cap­i­tal flows. Cit­ing the 1922 Rand Re­volt, Sharpeville, and the post-Ru­bi­con 1980s, he posits an “iron law” of SA his­tory: when­ever cap­i­tal in­flows are in­ter­rupted, a “gen­er­alised regime cri­sis” al­ways re­sults.

Gov­ern­ments in SA must there­fore re­main acutely aware of the in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic lim­its to do­mes­tic pol­i­tics if they wish to sur­vive. But a com­bi­na­tion of parochial­ism, apartheid wind­falls and con­joined global eco­nomic and com­mod­ity booms has led ANC lead­ers into a fa­tal com­pla­cency. This has left them vul­ner­a­ble to an im­pend­ing “regime change” mo­ment.

Re­fresh­ingly im­mune to jour­nal­is­tic con­ven­tions of bal­ance, John­son re­morse­lessly de­tails neg­a­tive ten­den­cies un­der ANC rule, such as the emer­gence of an “un­pro­duc­tive bu­reau­cratic bour­geoisie”, re­newed eth­nic con­flict and a “crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of the state”.

This re­lent­less one-sid­ed­ness re­sults in an­a­lyt­i­cal gains. His de­scrip­tion of the ANC as “a gi­ant fed­er­a­tion of po­lit­i­cal bosses held to­gether by pa­tron­age, clien­telism and con­comi­tant loot­ing and cor­rup­tion” may not cap­ture the full and glo­ri­ous char­ac­ter of the lib­er­a­tion move­ment as it is to­day, but few would deny that it high­lights most of the key un­fold­ing trends.

John­son ends with an in­for­mal sce­nario ex­er­cise that raises im­por­tant ques­tions about the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal fu­ture. On his ac­count, ANC lead­ers can­not re­gain con­trol of their pa­tron­agedriven move­ment be­cause its cen­tral logic re­volves around the pur­suit of resources and the defence of en­trenched in­ter­ests and ide­olo­gies.

The prac­ti­cal con­se­quence of pa­tron­age and cor­rup­tion is a grow­ing un­govern­abil­ity. How­ever stren­u­ously Fi­nance Min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene tries to rein in pub­lic spend­ing, he sim­ply can­not do so. John­son refers here to the re­cent re­lent­less ex­pan­sion of the pub­lic sec­tor wage bill, to the planned Na­tional Health In­sur­ance scheme, and to pro­posed in­vest­ments in nu­clear power-gen­er­a­tion.

In such cir­cum­stances, SA can­not re­turn to a sus­tain­able fis­cal path over the medium term. Rat­ing down­grades by credit agen­cies are, there­fore, just around the cor­ner. Bonds will ac­quire junk sta­tus, and for­eign in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors will flee. Amid a gen­eral col­lapse of gov­ern­ment ca­pac­ity to ser­vice debt, pay pub­lic sec­tor wages, and tackle so­cial dis­lo­ca­tion, the ANC will face a key mo­ment of de­ci­sion. Will it go cap in hand to the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund, and ac­cede to that body’s likely de­mands for pub­lic sec­tor pay cuts and labour mar­ket lib­er­al­i­sa­tion?

Or will it turn to an­t­i­cap­i­tal­ist scape­goat­ing, wealth taxes, the loot­ing of pen­sion funds, and ex­pro­pri­a­tion? John­son’s con­clu­sions are un­think­able. But it would be in­ter­est­ing to know ex­actly why they are wrong.

But­ler teaches pol­i­tics at the Univer­sity of Cape Town




Mid-term appraisal of DP Ramaphosa

Is Cyril Ramaphosa in the run­ning or not?

Sunday Times, 11 Oct 2015


EVEN in­sid­ers were as­ton­ished when he was cat­a­pulted to the ANC deputy pres­i­dency in 2012.

The for­mer trade union­ist and busi­ness ty­coon has since been obliged to dodge numerous bul­lets.

De­trac­tors have lam­basted his con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sions as a di­rec­tor of min­ing house Lon­min and chair­man of cell­phone gi­ant MTN.

He has also waded through the moral swamp of Ja­cob Zuma’s sec­ond ad­min­is­tra­tion wear­ing a fixed grin.

Lit­tle won­der that scep­tics have be­gun to ques­tion whether he has the moral back­bone to be the leader South Africa re­quires. Or, in­deed, whether he has the stom­ach for a lead­er­ship fight.

The ev­i­dence that Cyril Ramaphosa is not a fighter dates back more than 20 years.

In 1991, he would not have run for the of­fice of ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral if a pow­er­ful ca­bal of SACP ex­iles had not ca­joled him into do­ing so.

When Nel­son Man­dela chose Thabo Mbeki as his first deputy state pres­i­dent in 1994, an ag­grieved Ramaphosa could well have bat­tled in the branches, where he was then beloved, for the ANC deputy pres­i­dency. In­stead, he quit pol­i­tics for busi­ness.

But there is an al­ter­na­tive view. He fought with ex­tra­or­di­nary tenac­ity for minework­ers dur­ing the ’80s. He ded­i­cated him­self to the ne­go­ti­a­tions that se­cured a peace­ful tran­si­tion in South Africa at the ex­pense of his per­sonal po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions. He was one of a hand­ful of lead­ers will­ing to take on both Win­nie Man­dela and ANC Youth League king­maker Peter Mok­aba.

He was just 43 when Mbeki be­came Man­dela’s heir ap­par­ent.

As Man­dela later coun­selled Ramaphosa, he had the time to go into busi­ness, stand back from front­line pol­i­tics, and re­turn to the fray a decade or two down the line. And that is ex­actly what he has done.

When he was sub­jected to two ex­tended pe­ri­ods of de­ten­tion and soli­tary con­fine­ment in 1974 and 1976, he care­fully sur­veyed the ter­rain ahead.

He iden­ti­fied the trade union move­ment as the key ve­hi­cle for anti- apartheid mo­bil­i­sa­tion. A decade of as­ton­ish­ing suc­cess with the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers fol­lowed.

Af­ter Man­dela asked him to leave pol­i­tics, he re­mained in the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee of the ANC and qui­etly built up his se­nior­ity.

A suc­cess­ful ANC lead­er­ship cam­paign de­pends on the cre­ation of a cross-na­tional coali­tion of sup­port that draws to­gether var­i­ous pro­vin­cial fac­tions, pow­er­ful re­gions, and other part­ners.

The fact that Ramaphosa has no par­tic­u­lar pro­vin­cial power base is a chal­lenge but also an op­por­tu­nity.

He is pri­mar­ily a Gaut­eng politi­cian. That field is now largely his be­cause for­mer ri­vals there, such as Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa, are no longer in the game.

The deputy pres­i­dent also has ca­pa­ble al­lies, most no­tably ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe. Ramaphosa’s pro­tégé from his NUM days may help him se­cure sup­port in the Eastern Cape. More­over, given the im­por­tance of pro­ce­dural ma­nip­u­la­tion in in­ter­nal ANC elec­tions, Man­tashe’s role as sec­re­tary-gen­eral could be­come crit­i­cally im­por­tant.

The anti-Ramaphosa stance of pa­tron­age politi­cians, such as the so­called “premier league” of ANC chair­men, will boost his chances of se­cur­ing SACP back­ing. Whether or not the hol­low shells of the youth league and women’s league, or a di­vided Cosatu, sup­port Ramaphosa mat­ters far less than it would have done in the past. Why is Ramaphosa so quiet? First, he has pa­tiently es­tab­lished him­self as one of the two most “se­nior” can­di­dates in the field. By per­pet­u­at­ing the myth that the deputy pres­i­dent al­ways suc­ceeds to the ANC pres­i­dency, his sup­port­ers have made him the can­di­date to beat.

Sec­ond, the ANC’s lead­er­ship se­lec­tion pro­ce­dure pro­motes twohorse races. This is be­cause prov­inces can nom­i­nate only one can­di­date for each top-six po­si­tion.

The con­test now shap­ing up be­tween Ramaphosa and AU Com­mis­sion chair­woman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is there­fore in the deputy pres­i­dent’s in­ter­ests. It will take po­ten­tially more dan­ger­ous ri­vals, such as trea­surer-gen­eral Zweli Mkhize, out of the run­ning.

Mkhize is likely to fall in be­hind Dlamini-Zuma. At his age he can­not sit out two Ramaphosa terms and he would doubt­less pre­fer the age­ing AU chair­woman as a prob­a­ble one-term pres­i­dent.

Third, the other pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls, in­clud­ing Dlamini-Zuma, are in one way or another as­so­ci­ated with the ANC’s po­lit­i­cal pow­er­house of KwaZulu-Natal. But it is un­likely that any of them can unite that now­di­vided province in the way that Ja­cob Zuma was once able to do. Only overt eth­nic mo­bil­i­sa­tion can now ac­com­plish this; and that would pro­voke a counter-re­ac­tion around the coun­try that would bol­ster Ramaphosa’s cam­paign.

Ramaphosa has a long road to travel be­fore he can re­alise his child­hood am­bi­tion to be­come South Africa’s pres­i­dent.

But most of his cur­rent de­trac­tors have been bet­ting against him for a long time now, and look at the heights he has al­ready scaled.

But­ler is the au­thor of “Cyril Ramaphosa” (Ja­cana Media, 2013). He teaches pol­i­tics at the Univer­sity of Cape Town

A strong first year as DP for Ramaphosa

And the win­ner is … Cyril?


23 November 2014

Sunday Times

AT the start of this year, Cyril Ramaphosa’s po­lit­i­cal prospects did not look very bright.

His rise to the deputy pres­i­dency of ANC at the party’s 2012 Man­gaung con­fer­ence was widely in­ter­preted as op­por­tunis­tic.

Crit­ics al­leged that Ramaphosa was added to Ja­cob Zuma’s slate at the last minute to off­set the pres­i­dent’s eth­i­cal flaws and bol­ster his cred­i­bil­ity with business.

Mem­o­ries had faded of his role in the trade union move­ment and in the con­sti­tu­tional ne­go­ti­a­tions of the ’90s. His po­lit­i­cal skills were rusty after two decades in the board­room. But once Zuma made him deputy pres­i­dent of the coun­try, Ramaphosa’s po­lit­i­cal touch re­turned.

His al­ways-re­lent­less work rate has now been har­nessed to an ef­fec­tive pub­lic re­la­tions ma­chine. His charm and po­lit­i­cal skills have gen­er­ated an almost re­lent­less stream of pos­i­tive me­dia cov­er­age in re­cent weeks.

Ramaphosa has ap­par­ently brought peace and har­mony to Le­sotho, South Su­dan and Sri Lanka. This has re­sulted in doubt­less well-de­served cov­er­age from the pub­lic broad­caster.

In do­mes­tic af­fairs, two re­cent in­ter­ven­tions demon­strate his mas­tery of the art of pol­i­tics.

At the start of this month, the deputy pres­i­dent met Western Cape farm­ers and worker rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Paarl. After the meet­ing, Ramaphosa an­nounced a “mora­to­rium” on farm­worker evic­tions. His widely re­ported state­ment came across as deci- CHILD’S PLAY: Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, left, seemed to have DA leader Mmusi Maimane eat­ing out of his hand. But he may have for­got­ten to tell the op­po­si­tion what they had agreed to sive, sen­si­tive to the needs of all stake­hold­ers and be­nign.

Only later, once the press had gone, did it be­come clear that the “mora­to­rium” car­ried no le­gal weight and served as lit­tle or no im­ped­i­ment to fur­ther evic­tions.

This did not make any­one worse off, but nei­ther was any­one much bet­ter off. Ex­cept Cyril.

This week, Ramaphosa turned his at­ten­tion to the al­leged “deco­rum cri­sis” in par­lia­ment.

On Tues­day, he chaired a meet­ing with gov­ern­ment big­wigs in Tuyn­huys. To the great sur­prise of ob­servers, smil­ing op­po­si­tion lead­ers emerged to an­nounce that an “un­der­stand­ing” had been reached to re­store the “dig­nity of par­lia­ment”.

DA par­lia­men­tary leader Mmusi Maimane seemed to be eat­ing out of Ramaphosa’s hand.

Even the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) climbed on board.

Un­for­tu­nately, it seems Ramaphosa for­got to tell op­po­si­tion lead­ers what they had agreed to. Cer­tain “pro­cesses”, it seems, were to be “put into abeyance” in the in­ter­ests of cross-party unity.

This could well be de­scribed as a mora­to­rium on in­ter­party con­flict.

The next day, the sup­posed deal fell apart when the DA went ahead with a mo­tion of cen­sure over Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s non-attendance in par­lia­ment.

Ramaphosa adopted a sor­row­ful de­meanour. It was “a mat­ter of deep re­gret” that the DA had “cho­sen to sub­or­di­nate na­tional in­ter­ests in favour of nar­row party po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests”, he said.

The ANC chief whip in­sin­u­ated that Maimane was a pup­pet and had been over­ruled by DA leader He­len Zille.

As for the EFF mem­bers, a deal that ini­tially promised to save their ba­con — and salaries — was now off the ta­ble. But their re­sent­ment was now di­rected at the DA.

The deputy pres­i­dent has been cel­e­brated as a man of in­tegrity try­ing to re­store the dig­nity of a cher­ished and vi­tally im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tion. This has helped to re­in­force the idea that Ramaphosa him­self is an im­por­tant and cher­ished in­sti­tu­tion.

ANC MPs who started the week de­spon­dent left the Na­tional Assem­bly cham­ber singing.

The only real loser was par­lia­men­tary Speaker and ANC chair­woman Baleka Mbete. Her stature was di­min­ished almost as much by the deal (which treated her as if she did not ex­ist) as by her pre­vi­ous in­ep­ti­tude.

Her trou­bles may not trou­ble Ramaphosa, how­ever, be­cause she has been touted as one of his po­ten­tial suc­ces­sion ri­vals for the ANC pres­i­dency.

Pro­po­nents of the es­o­teric and hith­erto se­cre­tive phi­los­o­phy of Zulu fem­i­nism have re­cently de­creed that the time has come for a fe­male pres­i­dent — but she has to come from KwaZulu-Natal.

Ramaphosa is still no shoo-in for the pres­i­dency. But it has be­come harder to stop him.


But­ler is the au­thor of an un­of­fi­cial biog­ra­phy of Cyril Ramaphosa. He teaches pol­i­tics and pub­lic pol­icy at the Univer­sity of Cape Town

Ramaphosa’s early days as Deputy President (2014)

Ramaphosa to the res­cue in ab­sence of Zuma

Business Day, 7 Nov 2014

Anthony Butler

WITH Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma ap­par­ently van­ish­ing into thin air in re­cent weeks, Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa has been able to dom­i­nate the do­mes­tic news agenda. He has stepped into the con­flicts tear­ing apart the Congress of South African Trade Unions. Although lead­ers of the Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of SA dis­missed him as a cap­i­tal­ist fat cat, he came through the me­di­a­tion process with his rep­u­ta­tion en­hanced.

He has taken re­spon­si­bil­ity for restor­ing or­der in labour re­la­tions and for lead­ing de­lib­er­a­tions about the role that min­i­mum wages might play in mit­i­gat­ing in­equal­ity and poverty. Last week, meet­ing farm­ers in Paarl, he called for a “mora­to­rium on the evic­tions of farm work­ers”.

Ramaphosa has also made head­way on the other side of the cap­i­tal-labour di­vide. The World Bank’s res­i­dent di­rec­tor ar­gued this week that the em­ploy­ment and growth tar­gets set out in the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan (NDP) may be am­bi­tious but are not un­re­al­is­able. In or­der to achieve th­ese goals, the in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment pro­gramme must be put back on track and the labour re­la­tions en­vi­ron­ment must be sta­bilised.

As Deputy Fi­nance Min­is­ter Mce­bisi Jonas con­firmed this week, pub­lic sec­tor spend­ing on in­fra­struc­ture will have to be sup­ple­mented by pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment, and this will re­quire tar­geted ini­tia­tives to re­move ob­sta­cles to this. The gov­ern­ment will need to fo­cus on in­vest­ments that support pri­vate sec­tor job cre­ation, such as stronger trans­port sys­tems and broad­band in­fra­struc­ture, rather than squan­der­ing re­sources on “glam­orous in­vest­ments or white ele­phants which re­sult in lit­tle or ques­tion­able value”.

As chair­man of the Na­tional Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, Ramaphosa has now be­come the key cham­pion of the NDP within the gov­ern­ment, sug­gest­ing that his bro­ker­ing and deal-mak­ing role will con­tinue to keep his pub­lic pro­file high.

On top of this busy do­mes­tic sched­ule, Ramaphosa has been ac­tive ad­dress­ing con­flicts and chal­lenges in Le­sotho, Sri Lanka and South Su­dan. In­deed, it is dif­fi­cult to see how he could be­come any more prom­i­nent and ac­tive in lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional af­fairs — ex­cept per­haps by bring­ing about world peace or free­ing Earth from dis­ease and hunger.

Ramaphosa’s key com­peti­tors for the African Na­tional Congress (ANC) pres­i­den­tial suc­ces­sion have, like Zuma him­self, all but dis­ap­peared. After an enor­mous pub­lic re­la­tions ex­er­cise to sur­round Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma with an aura of com­pe­tence, she has floun­dered at the African Union.

ANC trea­surer-gen­eral Zweli Mkhize is ly­ing low after his sys­tem of charg­ing direc­tors-gen­eral for their jobs was ex­posed. Party fi­nances have ap­par­ently come close to col­lapse.

Long-shot suc­ces­sor Malusi “Gupta” Gi­gaba (so named be­cause of his re­la­tion­ship with the fa­mous fam­ily of en­trepreneurs) has been re­moved from the Depart­ment of Pub­lic En­ter­prises after a dis­as­trous term. He is now dec­i­mat­ing the tourism in­dus­try.

The re­lent­less flood of news about Ramaphosa’s good works, grow­ing support for him in Gaut­eng and the East­ern Cape, and the de­bil­i­ta­tion of his ri­vals to­gether raise the prospect of a po­ten­tially smooth trans­fer of power from Zuma to Ramaphosa at the ANC’s 2017 elec­tive con­fer­ence.

All of this good news for Ramaphosa, how­ever, can­not wash away the stain of Marikana. It seems highly im­prob­a­ble that the Far­lam com­mis­sion will find Ramaphosa per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble for the mas­sacre. But a pic­ture emerged dur­ing the hear­ings of a busi­ness­man over­stretched by mul­ti­ple board mem­ber­ships, inat­ten­tive to the liv­ing con­di­tions of work­ers, and serv­ing as a bro­ker be­tween the company, the ANC, the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers and the gov­ern­ment.

Ramaphosa has been a cham­pion and lead­ing prac­ti­tioner of the form of eq­uity-based black em­pow­er­ment that the Lon­min deal ex­em­pli­fied. Pre­sum­ably he will need at some point to ex­plain how it can be made to serve wider in­ter­ests than merely those of a company’s own­ers.


But­ler teaches pol­i­tics at the Univer­sity of Cape Town.