Hours before his election as SA's fifth president since the dawn of democracy, EFF leader Julius Malema said Ramaphosa is not a politician. In essence, he meant that Ramaphosa — who has had stints as a trade unionist and a businessman — cannot play dirty.
During his tenure as ANCYL president, Malema worked closely with Ramaphosa's predecessor, Jacob Zuma, to bring down Zuma's friend and struggle comrade of 30 years, Thabo Mbeki. He knows how Zuma plays dirty.
This is playing itself out in KwaZulu-Natal, where Zuma's invincible hand seems to be trying to bring Ramaphosa down, with Sihle Zikalala leading the charge. That is to say, Zikalala is Zuma's new Malema.
As I point out in the opinion piece "The snake might be dead, but those who share its secrets can still bite", Zuma's survival strategy lies in the intelligence and security services. To some degree, Ramaphosa proved Malema right when he appointed Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba as state security minister.
Take nothing away from Letsatsi-Duba, who is said to have spied on Zuma's opponents in Limpopo —where she hails from — in the run-up to the 53rd ANC national conference. The former uMkhonto weSizwe operative is well qualified for the position. However, Zuma's survival strategy relies in the main on KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Free State (in order of importance).
With Bheki Cele — who hails from KwaZulu-Natal — as police minister, one would have expected Ramaphosa to appoint someone from North West as state security minister, to tilt the balance of forces in his favour.
More so, given that the "premier league" has not entirely disintegrated — with Ace Magashule and David Mabuza as ANC secretary-general and ANC deputy president respectively. Although Supra Mahumapelo has fallen on his sword as North West premier, he is the last man standing of the premier league.
As an old proverb goes, "When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers most." Paraphrased within the context of the ANC, when two factions fight, it is the party that will suffer most at the polls in 2019.
Before going on his so-called 'early retirement', Mahumapelo declared war against his detractors in the province and called on his supporters to go and support Zuma when he appeared at the High Court in Durban on Friday, June 8 2018, to face 16 counts of corruption, fraud, money laundering, racketeering and tax evasion.
Along with other state-capture enablers, — such as David van Rooyen, Faith Muthambi and Hlaudi Motsoeneng — he was present in court to support Zuma. Clearly, the state-capture coterie is regrouping, and this should be of great concern to Ramaphosa.
The mere fact that the ANC is struggling to find Mahumapelo's replacement as premier shows that Ramaphosa is not in control of the province. As a result, it would be very difficult to keep tabs on Mahumapelo, who vowed to criss-cross the province to meet different branches.
Magashule, who is in charge of the party, cannot be ruled out either. In his ANC January 8th address at an ANCYL event in KwaZulu-Natal, with Zikalala and Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — whom Zuma had backed to succeed him — among the attendees, he urged the young lions to "stay focused" because "it is just a matter of five years" to return to the ANC they know.
As an old proverb goes, "When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers most." Paraphrased within the context of the ANC, when two factions fight, it is the party that will suffer most at the polls in 2019. Without destroying or taking a tough stance against Zuma and some of his supporters, Ramaphosa will find very difficult to hold the ANC together. To start with, he cannot unite the party with Mahumapelo, Zikalala, and Zuma sowing divisions within it.
For now, the Zuma faction is laying the foundation for a war against Ramaphosa. The war will go into full swing if he is re-elected in the 2019 general elections.