Buffalo bull that fought for freedom is still standing

Aakash Bramdeo is the Content Editor at eNCA.

Aakash Bramdeo is the Content Editor at eNCA.

Published Jul 8, 2024



Beware the buffalo, especially an old bull.

He may appear to be slow and docile, but he is considered the most dangerous of the Big Five, so named because of how difficult they are to hunt.

Buffalos are said to never forget or forgive and supposedly remember predators and hunters, years after being attacked. They’re also fiercely loyal to their herd.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has a love for buffalo and some of their traits have clearly rubbed off onto him.

When Ramaphosa was elected president of the ANC in December 2017, few thought he would last this long.

He won by a small margin against Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma – a victory that even Ramaphosa did not seem to expect.

He inherited a national executive committee that was divided – it was Ramaphosa’s reformers versus the captains of state capture.

Ramaphosa went about his business like a seasoned buffalo bull – slowly and quietly getting rid of those in the ANC who had sought to abuse the public purse for self-gratification.

Five years later, when Ramaphosa stood for a second term as ANC president, he beat Zweli Mkhize by a sizeable margin.

With his position as the dominant bull in the ANC herd firmly entrenched, he went into the 2024 general elections with the support of a few veterans, among them former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.

Despite this, the ANC was only able to get about 40% support nationally. Ramaphosa reached out to other political parties and was able to get the support of 10 parties to form a Government of National Unity. What they have in common is a respect for our Constitution.

In choosing his Cabinet, Ramaphosa chose people who were capable and had integrity.

Furthermore, those chosen represented a diversity that was lacking in the ANC during recent years.

Yet, diversity characterised the ANC since the Doctor’s Pact was signed in 1947, uniting Africans, Indians and coloureds in the fight against apartheid.

Diversity was also the cornerstone of the Freedom Charter signed in 1955. It stated that South Africa belonged to all who lived in it, black and white, and is a document that inspired our Constitution.

Those Ramaphosa chose as his Cabinet ministers come from eight different political parties. There are 18 men and 14 women. From a race perspective, there are 26 blacks (Africans, Indians and coloureds) and six whites.

From an age perspective, out of the 32 ministers, 11 are over the age of 60, eight are between 50 and 59, nine are between 40 and 49 and four are below the age of 39.

The 43 deputy ministers come from five different political parties. There are 25 men and 18 women. From a race perspective there are 40 blacks (Africans, Indians and coloureds) and three whites. There is also a fair mix of young and old deputy ministers.

Ramaphosa would not have been able to find such diversity and quality of candidates had he only chosen from within the ranks of the ANC. It is a move that has not only strengthened Ramaphosa’s presidency but also the ruling party and our constitutional democracy.

The expanded Cabinet will come at a bigger cost, but if they are able to grow the economy and cut down wasteful expenditure, it will be money well spent.

It has been a long walk for Ramaphosa. Like any buffalo bull, many have tried to attack him but, as yet, no one has been able to drop him. He has also managed to keep himself relatively clean while other dagga bulls have chosen to wallow in the mud.

Meanwhile, as the new Cabinet was being sworn in, former president Jacob Zuma was probably digesting the news that he had been summoned to appear before an ANC disciplinary hearing on July 17.

He is already suspended from the ANC for having campaigned for the uMkhonto weSizwe Party.

Zuma, who is said to be a good chess player, now finds himself in a position that those who know the game call “check”. It means you are in danger of losing your king and therefore, the game.

Such is the evidence against Zuma, it is possible that before Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18, and the day Ramaphosa delivers the State of the Nation address, Zuma could be officially out of the ANC.

It would mark a significant milestone in the history of the party.

Thirty years ago, when Nelson Mandela voted in South Africa’s first democratic elections, he chose to do so at the Ohlange Institute in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal – a school founded by John Langalibalele Dube, the first president of the ANC.

After casting his vote Mandela walked a short distance to Dube’s gravesite where he is reported to have said: “Mr President, I have come to report to you that South Africa is today free!”

Ramaphosa was part of the team that ensured South Africa’s freedom. And now, after a period of capture, he has ensured that the ANC is once again free.

Aakash Bramdeo is the Content Editor at eNCA.

Sunday Tribune