Cape Town — When asked the question on the country’s lips — what President Jacob Zuma’s immediate future holds — ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa just laughed.
Ramaphosa found himself in a media-scrum as he exited Cape Town’s St George’s Cathedral, where he attended a service yesterday morning with other ANC leaders.
“We leave this church well-armed with blessings and prayers from the bishop,” Ramaphosa said.
“So as the leadership of the ANC, we have been well-empowered as we move ahead. We would like to thank you very much, we would like to thank the congregation for their total support as we manage this transition.”
It was then that the question was asked of when there would be word on Zuma’s exit.
“Thank you very much, ha-ha-ha-ha,” Ramaphosa responded as he started to move across Wale Street to the Taj Hotel’s side-entrance, hugging babies along the way, with his security detail in close attendance.
Shortly after 9am, with Ramaphosa’s appearance imminent, two of his security detail’s members removed a supposedly homeless man who delivered a sermon of a kind to the assembled journalists waiting on Ramaphosa.
Minutes later, a motorcade of at least nine cars arrived. Ramaphosa got out and briskly made his way to the church’s entrance, surrounded by his guards, cameras’ shutters clicking and video cameras rolling all the while.
Ramaphosa took a seat at the front bench, flanked by ANC NEC member Nomaindia Mfeketo and acting Western Cape chairperson of the ANC Khaya Magaxa.
Reverend Michael Weeder welcomed everyone to the service and mentioned Ramaphosa by name.
During his sermon Weeder would often use a colloquial Afrikaans phrase, like “hou jou bek” (shut your mouth), much to Ramaphosa’s amusement.
Weeder referred to February 11, 1990, when Nelson Mandela was released and addressed a massive crowd at Cape Town’s Grand Parade, where a much younger and “shy” — according to Weeder — Ramaphosa held the microphone for him.
Ramaphosa smiled and nodded his head.
“We’re heading to a new beginning, new moments, new challenges to become better than we were. Let’s see this past that’s behind us as injury time,” preached Weeder. “And now we come back on the field and we’re giving our best and are recommitted. Because we can. Because we’ve been in troubled times before and we did overcome.”
Ramaphosa smiled and nodded his head.
Weeder spoke of the land question. “It is unfinished business, Mr Deputy President,” he said.
Again, Ramaphosa smiled and nodded his head.
After his sermon Weeder called Ramaphosa and his ANC colleagues forward to be blessed in prayer, whereafter Ramaphosa received hugs from members of the congregation and greeted some of the children.
Thereafter they participated in communion. Ramaphosa shook hands with former finance minister Trevor Manuel when the latter came forward to take communion.
Meanwhile, Zuma’s wife Tobeka Madiba-Zuma whose husband’s future in the Presidency is uncertain, on Friday finally broke her silence, warning that all hell was about to break loose.
She posted a happy photo of herself and her husband, seemingly inside a plane, from her Instagram account, firstladytzuma, with the following caption in isiZulu: “My crush, Nxamalala, Msholozi, Maphumephethe, Inkunzi, Emidiwayidwa, Zinyane likaMnyakanya. Kusazoshuba ungalwi nomuntu engalwi nawe #southafrica #biggerthanmattersofthestomach.”
In the post she praises Zuma, calling him by his clan names before warning that all hell is about to break loose. She also cautions against “picking a fight with someone who is not fighting you”.
Responding to comments on the photo from seemingly unhappy South Africans, Madiba-Zuma, reiterates her warning about rough times ahead and defends her husband.
“Kusazoshipha ukotshi darling. UMsholozi did not join the ANC in 1991, jumped ship nor hip hopped between the struggle and wealth accumulation. He left home at a tender age to fight apartheid. He was prepared to pay the ultimate price. He will finish what he started because he does not take orders beyond the Atlantic Ocean #mattersofthestomach (sic).”
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that he was in talks with Zuma about his future as the president of the country.
On Friday, News24 reported that five of the top six in the ANC had pulled out of all mass mobilisation events that were planned for Cape Town because officials had been summoned to Gauteng for urgent matters.
Ramaphosa had earlier withdrawn from the programme and was expected to continue his meeting with Zuma.
It was also announced on Thursday afternoon that the annual Ubuntu Awards had been postponed until further notice.
Zuma had been set to officiate at the awards ceremony at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Parliament’s presiding officers announced that Thursday’s State of the Nation Address had been indefinitely postponed amid fears that it might descend into chaos.
The ANC national executive committee (NEC), which is the highest decision-making body in the party, was due to take a final decision on Zuma’s future on Wednesday, but Ramaphosa dramatically cancelled the NEC meeting this week after what he called a “constructive and fruitful” meeting with Zuma on Tuesday. — Sapa