Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa is politically insecure.
Political experts concluded and added that the president’s opponents in the ANC are perpetuating current perceptions – such as that he is a weak leader who cannot act decisively in crises and debates over Eskom, Pravin Gordhan and the Reserve Bank – to use an orchestrated campaign against him to finally dethrone him.
However, the experts believe that Ramaphosa’s cancellation of his overseas trips later this month shows, on the other hand, that he is prepared to fight for his political survival.
The presidency announced Thursday that Ramaphosa will not attend the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as well as the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London next week.
This is because, according to his office, he “wants to pay attention to urgent local priorities and has to prepare for the ANC and cabinet’s leakage glass”.
The ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) also meets in Pretoria this weekend where the above crises are expected to be high on the agenda.
Dr. Zwelinzima Ndevu, a political analyst at Stellenbosch University, believes the cancellation of his overseas travels means that Ramaphosa either wants to show leadership in the midst of crises or does not trust his fellow leaders in the ANC he leaves behind.
However, he thinks the biggest problem that Ramaphosa created for himself was that he did not make decisive decisions about the division in the ANC and other crises in the country.
“His opponents are therefore already kicking a fuss so that the National General Council meeting can be used as a platform against him. It is a policy conference, but in the past it was also the platform used to later get rid of former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma.
“His support in the ANC and leadership of the party and country will therefore be tested at the main council meeting,” Ndevu says.
Prof. Bheki Mngomezulu, political analyst at the University of the Western Cape, believes the reality is that the ANC is severely divided and that Ramaphosa’s popularity in the party has waned.
“The current crises have only made things worse for him. The point is that Cyril Ramaphosa is not currently in a safe political environment. That is why he should always be vigilant for his opponents in the NEC and the larger ANC.
“The cancellation of his overseas trips can be directly attributed to it because anything that could go wrong would pose further threats to him.
“However, he seems to want to fight back and defend himself against the orchestrated campaign against him.”
Dr. Ralph Mathekga, an independent political analyst, believes the president “clearly feels the pressure”.
“It must be worrying for him that Deputy President David Mabuza raises his hand higher to replace him, as can be seen with the Eskom saga.
“The point is that South Africans love strong leaders, regardless of their background, who can clearly take a stand on issues in times of crisis.”
According to Mathekga, Ramaphosa’s weakness is that he wants to keep everyone happy and not take a stand. “And in politics, like in a war, such a person is not trusted.
“If he is not careful and his husband stands, he may be politically isolated at the general council meeting. If that happens, he is politically dead. However, it looks like he will fight back, ”says Mathekga.