Ramaphosa was Madiba’s first choice

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Balt Verhagen

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


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