ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: MOELETSI MABE
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: MOELETSI MABE

Dear reader,

The new year started with a bang as Cyril Ramaphosa began to outline how he intends to change the ANC and deal with the tricky problem of the continuing presidency of Jacob Zuma.

To give you a taste of what our subscribers are reading, here are five articles on the unfolding political drama. To read these articles — and many others — in full, become a subscriber for just R120 a month.

First up, writing in Business Day under the headline 'Zuma to exit stage, leaving Ramaphosa with twin headaches', deputy editor Carol Paton outlines two sobering challenges Ramaphosa has to face. Here is an extract from Carol’s article:

This operating style is typical of Ramaphosa — he does not succumb to the temptation to score cheap political points and prefers clear processes to unfold, which he can observe at an arm’s length.

His preference is always for the long, strategic game.

Unfortunately, though, there are two burning priorities, and in both he has no choice but to engage in a hectic race against time.

The first is the hole in the budget, together with the funding of higher education. The second is the threat of disaster at Eskom.

Ramaphosa has held two meetings with Treasury officials since the start of 2018 to discuss the first priority. Even though the higher education policy was imposed by Zuma through his premature announcement at the ANC conference, the ANC and Ramaphosa have every intention of making good on this promise.

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Writing for the Financial Mail, Peter Bruce describes how 'The opposition gives a belated gift to Cyril'. 

Peter writes:

Watching Ramaphosa’s Big Day unfold in East London on Saturday, it was obvious that he was getting a lot right while his main opposition parties were getting a lot wrong. He started speaking on time and finished on time. You could almost hear the assembled press corps cheering. Punctuality is a big thing. Zuma was never on time.

But while Ramaphosa was speaking, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who have done so much good to bring the law into our politics and caused Zuma so many delightful headaches, were disgracing themselves and, without question, doing themselves serious electoral damage, by trashing a variety of H&M department stores around the country.

This was just so stupid. Video on social media shows “Fighters” attacking mannequins, the plastic figures stores put clothes on. Or pushing over racks of clothing. Generally trashing the stores. One EFF leader, recently awarded a high academic degree, said he thought H&M should leave SA now.

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Columnist Barney Mthombothi explains 'Why Ramaphosa  ushers in a new era for the ANC'.

Barney writes:

For the first time since its unbanning, the organisation does not have a single individual from exile elected to its top six. It's a remarkable development.

The so-called "inxiles" have taken over. In a sense, the ANC has finally come home.

It's a break from the past which could have implications for the tone, texture and character of the organisation - and how the country is ultimately governed.

One of the major talking points of the conference was the glaring lack of women in the top leadership, an embarrassing outcome for a party that prides itself on its record on gender equality. Which may suggest policies don't accurately reflect feelings on the ground.

But the outcome which seems to be exercising the minds of the new leadership a great deal is the fact that KwaZulu-Natal, the most powerful province in terms of support - and President Jacob Zuma's backyard - emerged from the conference empty-handed.

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Justice Malala look at how the decline of the Zuma era has robbed the opposition of an easy target in a column with the headline 'Malema's desperation is showing as his Zuma target disappears'.

Justice writes:

These are confusing times for South Africa’s political opposition. A national election is due in just 17 months and most‚ if not all‚ these parties are incoherent‚ befuddled‚ leaderless and largely irrelevant.

They face a conundrum. The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president‚ and the possible removal of Jacob Zuma as state president (the axe may fall on this embarrassing ignoramus as soon as January 18 at the ANC national executive committee meeting)‚ removes one of their main campaign points from the national discourse.

As this crucial bloc in their arsenal is removed and a resurgence in the ruling party’s fortunes is expected‚ the opposition seems to be flailing about in an uncoordinated and visionless manner. They are being exposed as lacking in strategy and tactics.

Take the EFF‚ for example. On Saturday‚ at exactly the same time as Ramaphosa took to the stage to deliver his January 8 speech‚ the party’s supporters stormed H&M’s shops across the country. They vandalised property‚ trashed shops‚ scared off workers and shut down malls.

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Finally, in her column published on Rand Daily Mail, Ranjeni Munusamy writes 'Ramaphosa's 'friends' are behind him, but for how long?' 

This from Ranjeni's article:

Many people have now realised that the mixed bag of ANC leaders that emerged from the elective conference was mostly the doing of David Mabuza and Paul Mashatile.

The new ANC deputy president and its treasurer-general manoeuvred under the guise of "unity" to ensure that they and their key lieutenants were elected onto the NEC.

This allows them to up their game from being provincial strongmen to the big league.

While they appeared to be happy to play second fiddle to Ramaphosa in the past week's public appearances, it is what they do behind the scenes that matters.

The country is focused on Zuma's recall and how this will be managed.

But Mabuza and Mashatile are meanwhile moving strategically to stack the national working committee in their favour. The 20 people who make up the NWC deal with the functioning of the party and are privy to what is happening in the provinces and regions.

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I hope you enjoyed this selection of premium articles. For just R120 a month, you can read these writers and many more. You will also have access to exclusive news and business articles published in Business Day and Financial Mail as well as the top articles from London's Financial Times. 

In these heady times, a small investment in staying informed will make a big difference.


Ray Hartley

Editor: BusinessLIVE