By: Clyde Ramalaine
If Donald J Trump is the 21st-Century twitter-president, Ramaphosa in the Southland of Mzansi attests a man basking in his own appetite for emails, that increasingly leaves himself trapped in the quagmire. Ramaphosa and Trump have another thing in common their preference in choice of words like ‘fantastic’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘tremendous’ to describe policies, programmes, meetings or plans. If we know the real Trump it is because of his tweets, we know the real Ramaphosa from his emails.
There is little doubt in the minds of all South Africans that its current president, Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa is deeply embroiled in a credibility crisis that brings his fitness to lead as president in the spotlight. The self-appointed champion of ‘clean-up’, the apparent ‘last hope’ of a self-cleansing ANC and South Africa’s answer to its economic moral standing, who on the wings of claimed ‘state capture buster’ soldier ascended to political power in the ANC and SA, appears a captured man wholly beholden to men of least melanin with very deep pockets. Unfortunately, a tale of true state capture appears to be unfolding before us. Chief Justice Mogoeng in a recent Mandela 67 minutes address dared to assert, “We need to allow ourselves to be captured by the idea of a democratic and free society. I’m in the habit these days of saying what is a democracy? A government of the people by the people and for the people “Does it continue to be so when you stand no chance of winning elections unless you are connected to the financially well-resourced. If they fund you to a point where you succeed and win, are you not captured in advance? “We need to think deeply about how capture happens. There is no free lunch – and never for the millions. You may get lunch for a R1000, but once they begin to give you R1m, R3m, R5m, R50m or R100m, whether I set you up in business or in government, there will be payback time. Why should I make you a millionaire, why should I prefer you to others, it’s an investment”? [sic]
The now-famous ‘leaked emails’ of the CR17 campaign unveiled the role players actively involved in fundraising. Let us also upfront say raising funds is not illegal. Of those who played an intrinsic part is none other than his trusted lieutenant Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan. Clearly, a man he is prepared to take the proverbial bullet for and had sworn an irrevocable allegiance to. The publishing of the emails comes on the backdrop of a scathing report of the Public Protector that made some very serious findings against the sitting president. Perhaps the very description of leaked emails masks the subject of actual fundraising volume and role players. It is, therefore, better to speak of the “CR17 campaign fundraising emails” of which Ramaphosa, as can be seen from the emails, was directly involved contrary to his categorical claims of no knowledge.
In order to appreciate today’s challenge of CR17 ‘fundraising emails’ for Ramaphosa one needs to step back and appreciate some significant moments since his nomination by COSATU in November 2016. These details a tale of someone who communicates by email. Emails that confirm a recurring demon threatening to unmask the ‘champion’ of clean as highly questionable.
Our first introduction to Cyril Matemela Ramaphosa as an emailing man came with the revelations of his communications with Lonmin director on August 10, 2012. By the time Ramaphosa was first mentioned as a candidate, as lobbied by COSATU his role in the Marikana massacre of 44 mineworkers where he gave instructions by email to have ‘concomitant action’, refused to be laid to rest. The USA Federal Bureau of Investigations defines a mass killing as the killing of three or more people in the same place. This FBI definition renders Marikana a massacre. Ramaphosa resorted to email words that can be interpreted as endorsing the slaying of 34 mineworkers. Thus, in a display of his historical labour-power mixed with his financial and political connected power he fired off this email, despite the fact that as a seasoned negotiator he had access to another toolbox to resolve this labour dispute. Unfortunately, Ramaphosa despite a cleverly crafted letter of a so-called apology never owned up to his ‘concomitant action’ email and neither ever showed up at Marikana as a human-being to apologise.
Ramaphosa equally stood accused by some senior politicians in the ilk of Mosisili of Lesotho as embroiled in deal-making for the advantage of Bidvest’s interest. Bidvest secured a lucrative vehicle and logistics contract in what was deemed questionable means while he was the SADC attaché SADC assigned as the official peace- broker in that nation. Back then I warned that his uncanny knack for business deals follow him like a wet diaper. By the time Ramaphosa announced his candidacy he was a man who claims to have divested his assets into a questionable ‘blind trust’ to ensure his political ambitions of becoming SA president are not scuppered by his other love for the capital.
At the height of his CR17 Campaign during September 2017, the Sunday Independent broke with a story of Ramaphosa involved in a slew of infidelities with young ladies. At the centre of these allegations were sets of email communications and graphic material. When Steve Motale the then Sunday Independent editor, contacted Ramaphosa to secure an email address to forward the sensitive information and a set of questions on it Ramaphosa casually provided the very two email addresses that incidentally was the means for his communications with the said women. These email addresses, therefore, inadvertently confirmed the authenticity of the email exchanges between Ramaphosa and the ladies in question. What next unfolded was more than strange for an innocent man. Ramaphosa after requesting several extensions failed to make the agreed deadlines and on a Friday night dispatched his campaign manager Benjani Chauke to meet with Motale at a Sandton office to solicit a way forward on the subject matter.
Clearly cornered Ramaphosa decided to threaten with court action which he hastily and in unprepared fashion brought before the high court as an urgent interdict to prevent the Sunday Independent from publishing its story. It is history that his urgent court bid failed with an exacted costs order. With a failed court bid to block the story, his spin-doctors advised him to have a heart-to-heart with the Sunday Times in which he would admit to one affair and thus obliterate the Sunday Independent story. Ramaphosa held the story was part of a smear campaign to discredit him. Ramaphosa back then claimed the questions put to him by the Sunday Independent – which have been circulating on social media since the Friday “were illegally obtained” and related to “private matters”. Judge Bashier ruled that Ramaphosa had failed to convince the court that the matter was urgent and that he had ample time to respond to the questions.
This court bid confirmed a desperate attempt to kill the breaking Sunday Independent story. Needless to say, the Sunday Times later became the CR17 media- support mouthpiece. Ramaphosa’s penchant for emails left him then with more than egg on his face. Though these were personal and arguably private matters and really no one’s business as between two consenting adults it became crucial only because Ramaphosa sought to parade himself as the moral custodian of fixing South Africa in its moral decline. He was the only candidate of seven to have framed his campaign around the theme of morality hence he placed himself under scrutiny.
The email saga around Ramaphosa did not end with this incident. We also know that The Citizen carried a story penned by Daniel Friedman on 10 October 2018. This was penned after DA leader Mmusi Maimane released a statement accusing President Cyril Ramaphosa of having assisted in the identity change of close Gupta ally Ashu Chawla while deputy president. According to Maimane, the party was “in possession of email communication which appears to suggest while deputy president, Ramaphosa’s office assisted in the identity change of an individual with close ties to Gupta associate Ashu Chalwa. I will be submitting this to the president’s office requesting a full explanation.” Clearly, Ramaphosa’s emails saga attests more than quicksand.
The most recent episode in a recurring ongoing email of the president came when Public Protector presented her report concerning the investigations of the R500k donation made to the CR17 campaign. You will recall the President gave multiple versions of this account. This prompted the investigation as initiated by the DA. The R500k donation came from the controversial Gavin Watson, of the compromised BOSASA company a benefactor of billions in government contracts. The PP’s investigation came across almost R400million that the CR17 campaign received. One of the donors we know contributed in excess of R120million. Advocate Mkhwebane never revealed the donors in her statement.
This past week News 24 in a somewhat strange bid, led with a story on the “leaked emails” that lays bare the communications of the CR17 on fundraising in which Ramaphosa is apprised on who is being approached even with specific amounts. We all know that Ramaphosa has on several occasions categorically denied any knowledge on who funded his campaign and said the campaign-team did not want him involved in it.
While the authenticity of the emails is nowhere questioned, presidential spokesperson Khuselo Diko in an official response seeks to refocus our attention to the president’s email communications as illegally accessed. Her interview and subsequent statement in a misplaced sense reiterate a claim that Ramaphosa has done nothing wrong. This is a line adopted by those who seek to defend Ramaphosa’s innocence when the same crowd strangely never questioned the accessing of the Gupta emails which equally have been obtained by clandestine means. There are many possibilities for the leaked emails. It is very possible that it may have been leaked by some who are very close to Ramaphosa to show how vulnerable he is if he is not doing what they want him to do. These could be growing tired with a President who has too many to repay for his presidency.
Let us also separate issues, and dispense with rendering Ramaphosa a victim in this is instance. It is totally disingenuous to want to claim victimhood in breach of his personal security for the exposed emails. In case we forget Ramaphosa himself is on record to have said we warrant knowing about the Gupta emails since it’s in public interest when these surfaced. It was in the interest of his candidacy to want to link the dots to point to state capture in the instance of the Guptas. Why are South Africans not to link the dots in this instance of the CR17 fundraising emails?
Therefore, whoever was responsible for the leaks is perhaps of less importance since the content is a matter of public concern and we warrant knowing why the president is perceived to continue engaging in sophisms when the emails confirm something else.
We warrant knowing why an ANC campaign for presidency required between R400million to the north of R1bn as postulated by Anthony Butler. We need to know if this is now practice and the standard for the upcoming 2023. We also warrant knowing how much will be becoming president of the ANC cost in the future. South Africans warrant knowing who sponsored his rise to the political high-power of ANC presidency to the tune of R120million and why this should not be seen as state capture since he appears controlled by this person(s) and others of capital interest. We warrant knowing if the ANC and SA presidency were sold to the highest bidder(s) with deep pockets rendering the president a prepaid president as he is labelled. We warrant knowing what the role of the SOE’s will be in this repaying of the campaign funding in contracts. We want to know who else benefitted from the R1bn who was paid from this and if the elections at an external and internal level were bought. Is it possible that even some candidates were bought with the R1bn?
Instead of engaging the reality of the content the presidency opts to play the victim and pleads his innocence with claim all campaigns raised money. Ramaphosa himself has not spoken; he has chosen to be silent when he was exceptionally buoyant two weeks ago to respond to the public protector and submitting his affidavit to the State of Capture Commission which he insisted DCJ Zondo makes public.
As the August winds began to blow Ramaphosa appears a man suffocating in his own emails and he is increasingly finding himself tainted for the very thing he wanted SA to know he fights against. If the emails are true, Ramaphosa has proven to deceive and now refuse to own up instead he has opted to make the public protector a questionable character, as a means of deflection. Like his Marikana emails, his private philandering emails, the leaked CR17 campaign fundraising emails continue to unravel a president cornered in credibility and distrust challenges when he pontificates a moral high ground against state capture, while he is captured. The androgynous face of a president who some want to see as the “last hope” and hero to lead clean-up as compromised in state capture communicates Ramaphosa indebted to men with deep pockets. Ramaphosa the claimed ethical man is less than 100 days into his presidency a marred and tainted man that may be drowning in his own political blood, only because he does not want to come clean.
Do not expect the president to come clean, and take SA into his confidence. Instead, he will deny, even continue to blatantly lie, defend himself, deflect and even play the victim when SA needs true leadership.
What is clear is Matamela remains suspended in illegitimacy, less trusted by his own organization and many more in SA. He is vulnerable and heavily indebted to those he had possibly sold the state in receiving a colossal amount of money in donations from perhaps his true constituency and fan-base, who appears to be selling him out with these leaks.
For what is worth permit me to implore the president to come clean and stop this vainglory legal pursuit, subject himself to the scrutiny as delineated in the findings and implement the remedial action. If he remotely has the heart to do that, he may attempt to claim he is sincere to champion the cause of moral regeneration. In the absence of that expect the demon of more emails to surface as the crowd around him prove him vulnerable a translucent prepaid president captured before he emerged as SA president.
(From the upcoming book: “Ramaphosa, Suspended in Crisis of Legitimacy and Distrust”)