ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule betrayed his factional loyalties by pooh-poohing assertions that Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC presidency has paid electoral dividends for the party.
As a card-carrying member of the PAC I hold no candle for Ramaphosa, but he has obvious strengths. He is a polyglot who speaks to different African communities in their own languages. He applies what PAC founding president Robert Sobukwe referred to as the African personality, which Senegalese scholar, the late Cheikh Anta Diop, referred to as cultural identity. This is made up of three interrelated factors: linguistic, historical and psychological. None of his immediate predecessors employed this approach, not even Magashule’s favourite, Jacob Zuma, whose leadership brought electoral misfortune to the ANC.
Ramaphosa’s second strength is that he is respectful, humble and measured in his tone and speech, and I believe he is a good listener. These are qualities of a good leader. I can’t see Ramaphosa standing on a public platform and hurling insults at anybody, even his opponents. When EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu, young enough to be Ramaphosa’s son, showed him the middle finger in parliament, he didn’t reciprocate.
Anybody who is observant must have noticed that the politics of identity are part of SA’s social fabric, though some people would like to downplay this fact. The exit of Zuma from the political scene saw a spike in votes for the IFP. The ANC got more votes in Limpopo, probably because of Ramaphosa. Because of reactionary politics — and not Afrikaner nationalism — Freedom Front Plus votes increased and DA votes decreased.
Ramaphosa’s weakness is that he is too close to the white elite, which is going to hamper his mandate to serve his constituency, which is emerging from centuries of oppression. He cannot serve two masters at the same time.