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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Ramaphosa is firmly in the Zuma camp’s crosshairs

President Cyril Ramaphosa is facing unprecedented pushback from Jacob Zuma loyalists, but will not be easy to depose because he commands more support than the ANC.

With a target pinned on his back, President Cyril Ramaphosa is facing pushback from those allied to former president Jacob Zuma, some of whom have been fingered in ongoing exposure of graft and looting.

Divisions within the ANC are more evident than at any time since the elective conference in December 2017, at which Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and his supporters – all part of the Zuma camp – issued a vigorous denunciation over the weekend of allegations of corruption levelled against Magashule in a newly released book.

Ramaphosa has remained silent, which has added to the discomfort felt by ANC veterans, who believe he must act against those implicated in corruption.

But analysts believe Ramaphosa will not be easy to depose because he is growing in strength and his personal popularity now exceeds that of the party.

However, the ANC leader will have to act on high-profile members with blemished images placed on the ruling party’s parliamentary candidates lists, or face outrage.

The ANC veterans are leading a campaign to have those exposed by anti-graft probes – including Nomvula Mokonyane, Bathabile Dlamini, and Malusi Gigaba – excluded from parliamentary lists.

“We urge them to step aside if their nominations may be negatively perceived by the electorate,” the veterans said in a statement.

Political analyst Andre Duvenhage from North West University said although Ramaphosa was usually a consulting leader, there were windows of opportunity for him to move on the Zuma allies exposed in, among others, the allegations emanating from Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and allegations made in a new book by Pieter-Louis Myburgh that exposed Magashule’s shenanigans in the Free State.

According to Duvenhage, Ramaphosa knew there was still a threat of revolt from Zuma supporters in KwaZulu-Natal, should he not appoint any of the Zuma allies in his post-election Cabinet.

Therefore, the president would make a calculated move when he appointed the new Cabinet.

“Ramaphosa is not a Nguni type of a leader who walks about like a Shaka Zulu with a spear. He is a Venda and Venda people believe in negotiations. He will be very calculating in dealing with the Zuma group,” Duvenhage said.

Analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana said any plan to oust Ramaphosa prematurely, as is currently being rumoured, was suicidal.

“Without Ramaphosa, the ANC would suffer even more because people with tainted images would return to power to lead the ANC and run the country.”

Dirk Kotze, head of the politics department at Unisa, said Zuma supporters might not have the muscle to oust Ramaphosa.

“The only time to remove the ANC president is at the national conference. I can’t see it happening.”

“They also risk triggering a backlash, not just within the ANC, but from society,” Ndletyana said.


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