AFTER finishing off Jacob Zuma’s term, President Cyril Ramaphosa will
officially be sworn in as president of the republic on May 25 after 57,5
percent of the electorate voted for the ANC with his face on the ballot
The lights at the national results centre in Pretoria were barely switched
off when the Zuma faction in the ANC, unofficially led by
secretary-general Ace Magashule, started grinding their axes.
It is no secret that Magashule and the other Zuma supporters in the ANC’s
national executive committee (NEC) despise Ramaphosa.
Whereas Zuma abused his executive powers to keep himself and other crooked
comrades out of jail, Ramaphosa has emboldened and encouraged the law
enforcement agencies to act against state capturers inside and outside the
His presidency is literally a threat to the livelihood of Magashule and
A stronger Ramaphosa will be met by an equally stronger opposition to
undermine and hoodwink him at every turn.
These three challenges are Ramaphosa’s most urgent inbox matters right
1. Watch your back and that of your deputy
Ramaphosa’s power will immediately be challenged from Luthuli House as the
Zuma camp regroups to undermine and ultimately unseat him.
It won’t be easy – the ANC performed better at the polls than most
anticipated and there is no doubt that Ramaphosa contributed vastly to
this electoral victory.
Magashule’s psychological warfare against Ramaphosa, by repeatedly stating
that he was not individually important for the ANC to win the election, is
aimed at undermining his stature and respect in the party.
Magashule is hoping to convince ANC leaders and members that Ramaphosa is
The Sunday Independent reported yesterday that Lindiwe Sisulu and
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are both waiting in the wings to take over from
David Mabuza as deputy president.
There are different versions of the back story to this, but one theory in
the ANC is that Magashule and co are betting on Sisulu’s blind ambition to
become president to unseat Ramaphosa.
It is no secret that the relationship between Ramaphosa and Sisulu has
been strained. Do not be surprised if she does not make it back to
The Zuma camp has never forgiven Mabuza for turning against them at Nasrec
and giving his votes to Ramaphosa for president.
Ramaphosa needs Mabuza’s loyalty to buffer him from Luthuli House attacks.
A major headache for Ramaphosa is the list of the ANC’s integrity
committee with names of people they recommend should not represent the ANC
Mabuza’s name alongside that of other Ramaphosa allies Gwede Mantashe and
Fikile Mbalula apparently feature on this list.
The list also includes the names of unsavoury characters like Nomvula
Mokonyane, Bathabile Dlamini and Malusi Gigaba, but Ramaphosa can hardly
only act against those “rogues” who are seen to be Zuma supporters.
2. Cutting Cabinet without spiting your face
Ramaphosa has promised to shrink his Cabinet and it is the right thing to
do. South Africa’s executive has 36 members and 35 deputy ministers on top
of that. It is obscene and could be cut in half.
He simply has to cut back, but who to cut? Although Ramaphosa’s position
in the ANC has been cemented by the electoral victory, he is not
untouchable and firing a number of experienced, senior ministers could
spell danger for his long-term game.
Ramaphosa is still a politician and will have to reward his support bases
like the SA Communist Party when he decides on a Cabinet.
He can also not afford to alienate the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) and will
have to find a way of giving something if he fires Dlamini.
3. His relationship with the EFF
Ramaphosa has a charming relationship with EFF leader Julius Malema, but
the party is the biggest threat to the ANC’s long-term existence.
If it wasn’t for suburban voters in Johannesburg taking their national
votes from the DA to the ANC, the governing party may have lost Gauteng
due to the large increase in township voters turning to the EFF away from
The EFF has made major inroads in black communities in this election. The
party appeals to a cross-section of middle-class and township voters who
may feel the ANC is not actively championing the rights and issues of
How does Ramaphosa champion non-racialism and issues pertaining
specifically to the majority African population? Land and race will be
central to the EFF’s continued erosion of ANC support.
Ramaphosa will simply have to deal with these matters in a way that stops
the bleeding of ANC votes in townships and doesn’t alienate white,
coloured and Indian voters who have turned to the ANC in support of
Ramaphosa’s “thuma mina” call.