NEWS ANALYSIS: Ramaphosa pushes other rhetoric into the shade
Cyril Ramaphosa walked into the South African Communist Party’s (SACP) 14th national congress as ANC deputy president and walked out as the guy to beat in the race for the governing party’s top job.
In a presidential campaign speech that shaded all the rhetoric and subliminal messaging of the succession battle up to now‚ Ramaphosa used the platform to hit hard against the Gupta family and those within the ANC’s ranks who collaborate with them.
He was speaking on behalf of the ANC at the congress after President Jacob Zuma was told he was not welcome.
Before the deputy president took to the podium‚ union federation Cosatu general secretary Bheki Nthalintshali re-affirmed that the federation was supporting him for the position of ANC president. The ANC had previously embargoed campaigning until after its policy conference‚ which ended last week.
Ramaphosa therefore chose his moment well.
Speaking before an audience highly critical of state capture‚ Zuma and the Guptas‚ Ramaphosa had the SACP delegates eating out of his hands.
He said it was not possible to remain silent as damaging information about corrupt activities of the Guptas continued to "spew" out into the public from the family’s e-mail trove.
"We cannot turn a blind eye to these revelations‚ nor can we keep quiet. We cannot keep quiet. I for one will not remain quiet," he said, adding that people should not become numb to what is happening in the country.
"We now know‚ without any shred of uncertainty‚ that billions of rands of public resources have been diverted into the pockets of a few. We also know taxpayers of this country paid for a lavish wedding that took place in Sun City. And we also know that these were resources that rightfully belonged to the people of SA."
Ramaphosa also lashed out at British PR firm Bell Pottinger‚ which he said had produced slogans to "sow divisions" among South Africans. "Some among us were so gullible‚ believing in slogans that were crafted in London and brought here to confuse us."
There was a protracted debate at the ANC policy conference on the issue of "white monopoly capital"‚ which was among the terms planted by Bell Pottinger as part of its campaign to agitate racially divisive public discourse on the economy. The majority of ANC delegates decided to drop "white" from the final reports.
Some SACP structures are pushing for the party to contest elections on their own, but Ramaphosa cautioned the SACP delegates against making decisions on state power when they are angry with the ANC and the Guptas. "Pause before you sign off on that resolution‚" he said.
Among those who congratulated Ramaphosa as he left the venue were the former minister and deputy minister of finance‚ Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas.