Barring the complaints by about 25 political parties that the 2019 elections was not free and fair. It is pointless and petty for the ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule to pooh-pooh the fact that the entrance of President Cyril Ramaphosa into the ANC presidency has electorally paid dividends for the ANC. Magashule betrayed his factional loyalties by refusing to give credit to a man who might have changed the ANC’s fortunes electorally. Magashule’s utterances stunned Pule Mabe who was accompanying him. It is true that an organisation works as a team. However, there are outstanding players or stars in those teams whose performance shine and can therefore not go unnoticed. By the same token, Ramaphosa is that star. However, he has his downside.
I am writing this submission as a card carrying member of the PAC without any political axe to grind the same way I criticised Sowetan columnist Prince Mashele in January last year for unfairly criticising Ramaphosa simply because the latter addressed people through the medium of indigenous languages https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/opinion/columnists/2018-01-22-mashele-biased-against--ramaphosa/.
Let me point out what I think are Ramaphosa’s strengths. The first is that he is a polyglot and speaks to different African communities in their own African languages. He applies what PAC founding President Robert Sobukwe referred to as the African Personality which Senegalese scholar the late Cheikh Anta Diop referred to as cultural identity. The African Personality or cultural identity is made up of three interrelated factors which are the linguistic, historical and psychological factors. None of his immediate predecessors employed this approach, not even Magashule’s favourite, Jacob Zuma under whose leadership of the ANC and the country brought electoral misfortune to the ANC. By the way, it was during Zuma’s tenure that Julius Malema was expelled and the emergence of the EFF. Why was he expelled? For criticising Ian Khama when he was still Botswana’s President.
Khama is no longer President of Botswana. Was it really necessary to expel Malema for criticising a person whose governance record in Botswana is atrocious? Most of the votes that went to the EFF came from the ANC. In fact, Zuma cost the ANC a lot of damage which Ramaphosa is expected to undo.
President Ramaphosa’s second strength is that he is respectful, humble and measured in his tone and speech. He is probably a good listener, I don’t know the man but I know people who know him. These are qualities of a good leader. I don’t think Ramaphosa can stand on a public platform and hurl insults at anybody or make them objects of derision not even his opponents. When EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu, young to be Ramaphosa’s son, showed him the middle finger in parliament, he didn’t reciprocate.
Anybody who is observant enough must have noticed that the politics of identity are part of South Africa’s social fabric although some people would like to downplay this fact. The exit of Zuma from the political scene saw the spike in votes for the IFP. The ANC got more votes in Limpopo probably because of Ramaphosa. Because of reactionary politics – and not Afrikaner nationalism – FF Plus votes increased and DA votes decreased. These are white political parties even though the DA doesn’t like to be described as a white party.
Maybe there are white people who voted for the ANC because of Ramaphosa the same way there are African people who vote for the DA because of Mmusi Maimane.
When Magashule denies that Ramaphosa changed the electoral fortunes of the ANC he is being disingenuous. If, as they always claim, that Nelson Mandela waved a magic wand and drew support to the ANC, and they also claimed Zuma brought Zulu support to the ANC, why can’t that be the case with Ramaphosa?
Ramaphosa’s weakness is that he is too close to the white ruling elite who are going to hamper his mandate to serve his constituency that emerged from centuries of oppression. He can therefore not serve two masters at the same time.
By Sam Ditshego