POLITICS
13/01/2018 13:22 SAST | Updated 13/01/2018 15:34 SAST

First Thoughts: Ramaphosa Repudiates Zuma

Here are 13 takes from Cyril Ramaphosa's 'January 8' speech on Saturday.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
President of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa addresses his supporters during the ANC's 106th anniversary celebrations, in East London, South Africa, January 13, 2018.
  1. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa tried and managed to balance populist expectations with sober realities.

  1. Ramaphosa threw A LOT of shade over President Jacob Zuma, with the timeous start of meetings and events drawing a lot attention.

  1. Ramaphosa had a clear and coherent message about economic recovery, citing policy certainty, the need for investment and a broad social pact as his central economic themes.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
President of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa waves to supporters ahead of the ANC's 106th anniversary celebrations, in East London, South Africa, January 13, 2018.

  1. Ramaphosa was forced to change tack on higher education (not unexpectedly) and said it would be implemented gradually "as we get more money".

  1. He went off script for large parts of his speech, especially when speaking about the economy and corruption. That's telling and reveals something of his priorities.

  1. Ramaphosa reiterated the decision about land expropriation without compensation, but he again emphasised the rather sizeable caveats that go with it (no damage to the economy, food security, stability of the agriculture sector).

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A supporter gestures during an address by African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa during the Congress' 106th anniversary celebrations, in East London, South Africa, January 13, 2018.

  1. Ramaphosa's speech was a big effort to keep everyone in the tent content (with apologies to US President Lyndon B. Johnson). How long it will last is anyone's guess.

  1. CR17 talked tough on state capture, not scared to use the word and emphasising the importance of the commission of inquiry (he thanked Zuma for doing it). Law enforcement agencies should also not act in the interests "of individuals". Significant.

  1. The written speech referred to a special focus on "investigations and prosecutions" in connection with state capture.

  1. Ramaphosa and the NEC's statement was a wholesale repudiation of Zuma and his leadership tenure. While he was sitting on stage.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
President of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa waves to supporters ahead of the ANC's 106th anniversary celebrations, in East London, South Africa, January 13, 2018.

  1. As with his maiden speech after becoming ANC president, Ramaphosa reinforced the ANC's nonracial character. A return to "UDF" type values, as some in his circles see it.

  1. The overarching themes of Ramaphosa's speech: renewal, recovery and restoration of party and state. A damning indictment of the previous leadership (which he was part of).

  1. Ramaphosa's lodestar will clearly be former president Nelson Mandela as well as the NDP. Good start. Let's see how much of this finds resonance in the state of the nation address.