IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa has penned an open letter to president Cyril Ramaphosa in which he called comments attributed to Ramaphosa as "opportunistic". File photo by Bongani Mbatha/ African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - The Inkatha Freedom Party's national spokesperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said in a statement on Monday that the "nine wasted years" comments attributed to president Cyril Ramaphosa, allegedly referring to former president Jacob Zuma's term in office, were "opportunistic". 

Hlengwa penned his statement as an open letter to Ramaphosa. 

"At the outset let me categorically state that I hold your office in high regard and respect you as our head of state and government. Accordingly, it is borne out of this respect that I write you this letter.

"Utterances attributed to you that in Davos you spoke of 'nine wasted years' under Mr Zuma have taken me aback with a sense of shock as they are said with a very opportunistic view. [This opportunism is] to distance yourself from the grave realities of those years, particularly for the poor majority, as we saw everything from grand-scale corruption to the collapse of the economy to state capture. All this time sir, you were a part of the system," said Hlengwa. 

He said Ramaphosa had served in Zuma's National Executive Committee and, during this time, "not a word came from you". 

"Instead, those who challenged Mr Zuma, namely Julius Malema and co., were expelled from the ANC under the auspices of the disciplinary processes that you chaired."

Hlengwa said that when former president Kgalema Motlante launched his campaign against Zuma for the ANC presidency, Ramaphosa was "quick to join the Zuma slate", which delivered him as deputy president of both the ANC and South Africa.

"You sir, became the right-hand-man of Mr Zuma, and leader of government business in our parliament."

It was thus baffling, said Hlengwa, how Ramaphosa could speak of "nine wasted years" when he was "in the belly of the beast" during Zuma's administration. Not once, he continued, was a "squeak" heard from Ramaphosa until it was politically expedient  - which was during his own campaign launch. 

Ramaphosa had chosen Zuma over the country eight times by shooting down multiple motions of no confidence in the former president, said Hlengwa. 

He said the pain inflicted on the country's body politic and economy during Zuma's term could not be quantified and had gained traction as those in positions of authority kept silent. 

South Africans would judge Ramaphosa harshly, said Hlengwa. "During those years you stood by for all nine of them. Now is the time for South Africa to see if you have what it takes to stay on for a further nine."

African News Agency (ANA)