EDITORIAL | Cyril’s Zondo tightrope act: quiet heroics or paving a path to power?
The unrest and cabinet reshuffle point to the president being sorely lacking in bringing the ANC to account
President Cyril Ramaphosa cuts an enigmatic figure in SA politics, and his appearance at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture this week will only reinforce perceptions of our president as a puzzling, and puzzled, man. He seems to live in a world all of his own, a world in which the day’s news that ordinary people have at their fingertips appears to never quite reach him, and when it does it has long since outlived its usefulness. Worse still, in his account to the commission of his service in cabinet under former president Jacob Zuma, he comes across as disengaged, seemingly shrugging off quite important developments with a diffident giggle and a smile. Yet this evidently hides a steely will, a man with the political stamina, if not the stomach, for the dirty work our politics requires.
What observers of Ramaphosa may find difficult to square is his governing style, for want of a better term, viewed in contrast to his single-minded determination to rise to the top of the ANC political pile, in a career that has encompassed humiliation, vindication, deference, strategy and cunning. Regarded by some as the rightful heir to Nelson Mandela, a mantle in which Ramaphosa seems to sometimes drape himself, he was overlooked for the deputy presidency in favour of Thabo Mbeki. Ramaphosa stepped aside to go into business, and become spectacularly rich. At the ANC’s Mangaung conference in 2012, Ramaphosa threw in his lot with Zuma, a move that secured him the deputy presidency in 2014, and consolidated Zuma’s grip on power.
On April 30 2013, the Gupta family wedding entourage landed at Air Force Base Waterkloof, an event that shook SA and alerted the public to the shadowy family who had connections in so high a place in the government that they could land a private jet at a military base. The landing was to SA politics what the break-in at the Watergate Hotel was to politics in the US, and would lead ultimately to a president giving his country an inestimable Valentine’s Day gift when he stepped down on February 14 2018, just short of five years after the landing...