/ 23 October 2017

Cyril Ramaphosa puts on a brave face amid axing rumours

The deputy president of the ANC and the country
The deputy president of the ANC and the country

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been openly critical of the latest Cabinet reshuffle —the 11th since President Jacob Zuma assumed office in 2009 — amid rumours that the president is planning to fire him in the run up to the ANC’s elective conference in December.

In an address to the North West Chamber on Saturday, the deputy president commented on the Cabinet reshuffle, saying: “In the recent past when the cabinet was reshuffled, that in itself introduced instability”.

“Instability in the sense that the ministers who were reshuffled had just been in their positions for a few months. Now, they are in new positions and have to learn the workings of new departments.”

This critique comes after Ramaphosa was asked by Economic Freedom Fighters MP Floyd Shivambu in Parliament on Thursday, whether the deputy president was also about to become a victim of a Cabinet reshuffle.

In response to Shivambu’s question, Ramaphosa said he could not speculate on rumours.

“And if the decision is to remove me, I will accept that as a decision that will have been taken by the president.”

Ramaphosa further went on to say that: “I will continue serving the people of South Africa in one form, shape or another” even if President Zuma fires him.

Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign lobbyists told City Press that they believe that he will be removed in order to make way for the appointment of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma so that she can establish a commission of inquiry into state capture.

President Zuma is said to be under pressure to appoint an inquiry into state capture but because of his position and how he is heavily implicated in state capture and corruption allegations, he will have to leave the appointment of the commission in the hands of his deputy.

A lobbyist on Ramaphosa’s team says that the president “does not trust Cyril with the appointment of the judge [of the state capture commission] 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”.

Presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga has said that rumours of Ramaphosa’s possible reshuffle are “rumours and pure gossip” and he maintained that the presidency would not respond to these allegations.

Regarding the commission that will probe state capture, Ngqulunga said that: “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.”

On Tuesday, Ramaphosa’s confidant, veteran unionist James Motlatsi, said the president was about to remove the deputy president by using an intelligence report showing he was a “spy” for western capitalists.

According to Motlatsi, Zuma’s lobbyists were campaigning by tainting Ramaphosa’s image, claiming that “he is a CIA and MI5 spy, and that if he is elected, he will sell the country to Western capitalists.

“Let what has to happen, happen. But it [Ramaphosa being axed] will intensify his campaign. The sooner they remove him, the better for him, for the ANC and for the country.”