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Within the past week, President Cyril Ramaphosa and his supporters in the ANC won two significant victories over the radical economic transformation (RET) faction loyal to Jacob Zuma.
First, the pesky Carl Niehaus was given the boot for daring to question the party’s somewhat loose attitude towards employee compensation (and paying it, actually).
No doubt Niehaus will put Ramaphosa’s faction through the wringer if the case ever gets to the CCMA.
Then there was the high court ruling which refused Ace Magashule the right to appeal against the ANC’s decision to suspend him as secretary-general of the organisation.
For all intents and purposes, Niehaus and Magashule have been transported to the political gulag. Ramaphosa’s push for increased accountability and discipline in the organisation was the direct impetus for the chain of events that led to the axing of the two.
But at the same time, the president has also managed to win over others within the ANC whose allegianceswere clearly with the RET-niks.
Among those who have astutely judged that the winds of political fortune are blowing Ramaphosa’s way are Jessie Duarte and Gwede Mantashe, the mineral affairs and energy minister.
The latter’s conversion was not quite as dramatic as that of Duarte because he has always proved himself tohave very flexible principles.
Another one in that category is Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who was one of the first to abandon Zuma and hitch his future to the Ramaphosa star.
By a variety of means, Ramaphosa has quietly, yet successfully, been getting rid of, or neutralising, those within the ANC who might stand between him and a second term as party and country leader.
It is going to take a comeback performance worthy of Lazarus to resurrect the RET gang.