/ 21 October 2022

Why everybody wants to be Cyril Ramaphosa

Lindiwe Sisulu 3382 Delwyn Verasamy
Do you know who I am? Lindiwe Sisulu attempted in vain to make an unscheduled visit to John Block in prison this week. Photo: Delwyn Verasamy


I’m up early, working while there’s power.

De Donker and De Donkerder are at it again.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to remember which silver-haired devil is the Eskom chief executive and which one is the spanner monkey in a suit, so De Donker and De Donkerder it is.

The head of state, Cyril Ramaphosa, won’t fire the Twins of Darkness — or their boss, Pravin Gordhan, any time between now and December — or before 2024 — so De Donker and De Donkerder it will be, for the foreseeable future.

Another would-be president of the ANC has raised their head — and hand — with the now familiar cry of pick me to the party’s branches as the elective conference in December approaches.

Actually, two wannabe ANC number ones went after the limelight — and Cyril’s day job — this week.

Lindiwe Sisulu — another hardy perennial from the 2017 presidential race — reminded us that she has thrown her tiara into the ring again by kicking up a storm after being denied access to the party’s former Northern Cape chairperson, John Block, at the prison where he’s serving his term for corruption and money laundering.

Sisulu was offended that the department of correctional services wouldn’t allow her to just pop in a visit to Block — with former anti-apartheid cleric and fraudster Allan Boesak in tow — and didn’t seem to understand that jail visits have to be booked in advance and conducted on specific days..

Perhaps Sisulu had forgotten that Arthur Fraser is no longer the national commissioner of prisons — she’s been busy, after all — and that the new head of prisons, Makgothi Thobakgale, appears to believe that the rules apply to all South Africans, members of the executive included.

Perhaps she did know there was a new commish, and simply didn’t care, simply expected whoever they were to throw the prison doors open the minute the name Sisulu was mentioned and roll out the red carpet, because that’s the way things have always worked  . 


Back to Zweli Mkhize.

The former health minister has ramped up his campaign, with a blitz against the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), claiming that it cannot back up the case it has made against him over the Digital Vibes scandal and a charm offensive in the media.

Thus far, Mkhize had kept to working the shadows at the ANC regional and provincial conferences; addressing branch general meetings and the innumerable memorial lectures that take place — almost hourly — when the national elective cycle reaches its peak every five years.

Now, Mkhize is out in the open, vibing would-be presidential — rather than digital  — despite the SIU’s dismissal of his claim that he’s off the hook and in the clear.

Khabazela reckons he’s pure as the driven snow — purer — which makes his meeting us at a boutique hotel which was, until recently, under the curatorship of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) after the owner was charged for tender fraud, a little strange.

Perhaps he didn’t know.

Perhaps he didn’t care.

Either way, gonna be crowded in December, if all of the comrades who are after Ramaphosa’s job make it onto the ballot …

Everybody wants to be Cyril.

Mkhize, Sisulu, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, David Mabuza and — if he can sidestep the step-aside — there’s also the Chancer from Kroonstad, Ace Magashule, who’s wanting to take the presidency from the floor.

And, of course, Ramaphosa himself.

There’s also a camp that is talking up former president Jacob Zuma going for a third term as president, rather than Dlamini-Zuma standing as president, and uBaba as chairperson, on the official version of the family slate.

Nxamalala certainly has the time, especially these days.

uBaba doesn’t have any court engagements until next year, with his victory this week, so he has the time to make it to the conference, if, like Magashule, he manages to dance his way around the step-aside issue.

Zuma’s new legal strategy — a high press aimed at taking out the prosecution rather than the low block, the parking the bus and waiting for them to come, that his legal teams had employed since 2007 — appears to be working.

The gegenpress — should that not be Zumapress — has pinned the National Prosecuting Authority down in their own box, gotten them — and Karyn Maughan — off Zuma’s back until next year, while uBaba he-he-he’s himself all the way to possibly becoming the ANC’s Helen Zille.

I hope somebody taught Zuma about Twitter while he was locked up — a 24/7/365 Twar between him and Zille while their parties cringe, helplessly, is just what South Africa needs right now.

Blitzing the NPA may pay off further for Zuma — Judge Piet Koen is talking about the possibility of recusing himself, which mean a new judge and another couple of years before anybody gets anything more than not guilty out of Nxamalala,

Not a bad result for a man who had run out of time.