– Inside the flawed politically ambitious mind of Ramphela –
An imminent announcement is awaited in some circles with bated breath, by Dr. Mamphela Ramphela, claimed custodian of defense and new “hope” of democracy that is erroneously claimed under threat by an out of control ruling party.
Yet we must ask what drives a Ramphela in this epoch to leave the comfort of her wealth, prestige, status, globally venerated and academically crowned plateau to enter the muddy and messy world of party politics?
It would appear selflessness, a need to respond to a Kairos -moment- these as noble as it may appear in my assessment are not the real reasons hence a closer look at her strategy, mind, tools, and approach. Could it be that the aforementioned comes saturated in a misplaced supersized view of self often explained in megalomania? Firstly, it is her right to stand, it is her right to be ambitious, and she should be respected for that.
Yet it may not be her inalienable right to arrogate a right above others to act as the ‘ultimate’ custodian of our democracy, in which a campaign is run that seeks to solicit a vote on the pretext of such opaque need.
Mamphela Ramphela in many ways represents the epitome of what is called a successful African or “black” woman. One who has the right political lineage, the correct historical connection, an astute academic, an activist, former prisoner a major benefactor of the ANC- led transition from apartheid state to democracy, a high-flying corporate eagle a chairperson of key boards in democratic South Africa and an ambitious individual. That sounds like just the correct ingredients to make for a next step of potential politician.
The truth is Ramphela has been on an elongated campaign of testing pulses for her launch out. Her strategy is spear-headed by the barking out of insults at the ANC led administration, finding nothing good to say about this government.
Her campaign moves from this premise that SA needs rescuing from a type of ‘Barbarian – banana republic’ ethos, where sanity is absent, and intellect has absconded. She equally has convinced herself that she can rescue SA or those whom we are told are the sane South Africans from the abyss of lack of democracy SA is sliding into, if her views and commentary is anything to go by. Her tools for her pursuit and stride to power comes draped in her rightful academic credence.
Her focus is consolidated in the soliciting of sentiment from Youth,Women and the much claimed SA intellectuals who are apparently sidelined by this ANC. Her message, ” I did not fight for this”, therefore personalising the people’s struggle as her personal struggle.
Her theme, democracy needs defense, from a claimed marauding gang of idiots who needs to be schooled. Her mantra, she is a woman, an African woman. She shares a love affair with some media houses who proves useful for a political campaign draped in social diaologue. She understands the significance of the media component in her attempt and therefore seeks to extend the announcement in typical Lady Di fashion playing with the paparazzi a vicious game that in the end may backfire. The media has the capacity to make and break you, if Juju is the maximum symbol of definition. ‘Conversations with my Sons and Daughters’ is the entree, to her claim she is and will listen and dialogue with the Youth, predicated on the understanding the Youth is not listened too.
Ramphela a revered academic in some circles with a somewhat unfitting colloquial expression of language usage coupled with a thinly volume voice. A voice we in tsotsi-taal may declare a ‘tjatjarige skel-stem’ often not tuned to the frequency of her razor sharp mind.
For a while, she flirted with the Matriarch of opposition Helen Zille who has been in political affairs or rumoured affairs with virtually anything anti- ANC from Terror Lekota, Vavi to a chained Patricia De Lille. Ramphele used every or any opportunity of public speech to castigate and attack the Zuma presidency, often acting as the head mistress of Mzansi. Her attacks included moral high ground claims, political intolerance, and a historic right to claim the struggle. Each time Ramphela would position herself as the beacon of morality, the axis of sanity, the balance of forces, the custodian of a democracy, the centrepiece of intellectualism and the paragon of womanhood that can fill the air of Genadendaal.
She had Zille salivate after her, possibly had some very serious discussions and concluded joining as salacious as it may portend would hurt her image more than saving her cause. Therefore the only way is to start out on her own with a clear option and possibility of swallowing the DA if she can bring the claimed “thinking ” black muscle particularly women in SA to buy into her perceived vacuum of lack of leadership.
Having left the deal with Zille open- ended, she sat about constructing her story – “Conversations with my sons and daughters.” This she claim in motherhood of a claimed lack or absence of Struggle Mothers, therefore choosing to become the surrogate mother of those considered despondent youth. I will not be surprised if a late hour deal is struck when both realise the nightmare of their twin ambitions, to be crowned the Margaret Thatcher of SA.
Two things about her strategy that is worth highlighting, she firstly accepted that the future is the youth’s rightfully so, and judging herself as beyond middle aged, she needed to connect with the youth. Secondly, her strategy assumed that the public sentiment would sway in her favour, as she hopes on cash in on despondency of a potential youth constituency.
Indeed a clever strategy one that could pay off, but in my assessment only as another opposition party.
The challenge for Ramphele’s lay herein that she firstly almost like Tokyo Sexwale attempted late last year, seeks to run an individual campaign in typical American sense. These campaigns currently fall outside the parameter or definition of our current political electioneering process and may be welcomed in another 20 years. Often these campaigns thrive erroneously on the issue drummed up sentiment from sectors of our society who simply has proven lethargic if not obstructive to our transformation paradigm.
Ramphela’s hide and seek media drummed campaign needs more than sentiment it needs more than conversations it needs real issues, that proves the current NDP, the Economic strategy, the strategic visionary and direction as led by the ANC is not working. Yet Ramphela must convince us all that she has policy development capacity that would leave the existing policy platform as useless. Ramphela must convince Mzansites that she has a unique plan for South Africa.
Her constituency is an assumed one very difficult to dissect. On the one hand, it pretends to be “heroes” of yester-year whilst it portends to be youth. Her constituency it is claimed are ordinary people yet that cannot be the case because Ramphela is calibrated to an elitist agenda, and the majority of Mzansi women are not too numbered among the elitist definition.
It is assumed she represents women in particularly black women, yet that claim is spurious too since the current Government has proven sensitive and has made bold strides to inculcate and include this particular group. To confirm this policy directive, the ANC’s current strong embrace of a 50/50 gender share of power, which has again found mention in the 2013 State of The Nation address, is on track. This constituency if the aforementioned is considered appears covered.
If her hope is that she speak in sanguine sensibility of reason as the voice from the vestiges of capital, she simply cannot be more legitimate than the current serving deputy president of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa, who anytime day or night can truthfully claim a voice of capital definition.
In the end, it is my submission that Dr. Ramphela is about to find herself because at times an enlarged view of self-warrants a mirror that will help you to your right size. She has no clear-cut constituency that is easily tracked. She cannot claim “black intellectuals” as her entree, these are so scattered and confused by what the liberalist agenda has offered them until they sound like the stuck record of Professors Sibusiso Ndebele and Jonathan Jansen who never can write anything about a working SA in post-apartheid definition.
Ramphela simply cannot claim a historic Black Consciousness doorkeeper role for these are non-existent, watered down by the Neo-Bikoist like Andile Mngxitama who is causing more harm to the true legacy of this noble son of the Southland.
Ramphela simply cannot claim the poor as her constituency, in the words of Mark Gevisser ‘she is disconnected’ in many ways for these have made their choice. If she therefore will fish, it will be in the soon troubled DA and confused COPE ponds and that will make her another opposition party, further dividing the very opposition some believe SA desperately needs. Maybe 18 months from now Dr. Ramphela will be a sober ordinary Mzansi member who had garnered 159251 votes if she attempted to go at it alone for 2014 national elections. Ramphela will come the hour have a much better and balanced view of who she really is in the greater canvas of SA political context.
Unfortunately, it takes more than barking, castigating, lashing those who govern, when you never have and never will. Political victories are not dictated by the created sentiment of particular constituencies in distrust of the ANC, it needs contest in ballot definition in celebration of a confirmed functional and celebrated even protected democracy, which was never under threat as Ramphela and her ilk want us in rhetoric of fear want us wrongly to believe.
In this silly season of politics a dose of Trevor Noah puts it best, ” you gonnnnna learrrrn (Dr. Ramphela), you gonnnnna learrrrn!
Clyde N.S Ramalaine