Ramaphosa was Madiba’s first choice
IN 1990, THE ANC found itself in a position of potential fulfilment. The apartheid colossus had finally come to realise that it had to openly negotiate with the groundswell of black aspirations.
The fact that its spiritual leader, Nelson Mandela, had become a world icon, huge international solidarity and pressure of a massive boycott forced the National Party into this enlightened stance to avoid a scenario that could have become like present-day Syria.
The glory of victory in 1994 was, however, short-lived. The exiles, largely the result of the 1976 student uprising, trumpeted their sole claim to liberation and would have none of the slow, holistic reconstruction proposed by the RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme).
After languishing in the bush for 14 years, they wanted their rewards immediately, not after another long slog.
Tata Madiba, at 78 and after 27 years’ imprisonment, needed a younger, capable and honest vice-president to put the negotiated policy into effect.
His clear choice was Cyril Ramaphosa – lawyer, trade union giant and loyal cadre well-versed in the functioning of Africa’s most advanced economy.
Instead, Mandela had forced on him Thabo Mbeki, who had been fronted by the exiles to impress the business community and who proved to be an intellectual posturer with a huge racial chip on his shoulder.
Soon the RDP was unceremoniously ditched for GEAR (Growth, Employment and Redistribution), which placed neoliberal capitalism back centre stage.
The rest is the sad history of the past 23 years.
By 2008 corruption had already become so deeply engrained that Jacob Zuma was a shoo-in.
The aftermath of Marikana brought Ramaphosa into the vice-presidency and therefore back into the political fold.
He did his bosses’ bidding but managed politically to survive the near-complete moral breakdown of the country’s governing party.
Mashupye Maserumole (Star, January 6) sees the country’s only hope in a national leader of “ethical leadership of epic proportions”.
Though tainted by a single fatal decision under pressure in Marikana in 2012, Cyril Ramaphosa holds the promise of leadership of ethical proportions, if not of Madiba’s epic stature.
This may be the best blessing we can look forward to in a present-day world where leadership of epic proportions usually signifies the worst imaginable.
Mandela had Thabo Mbeki forced on him