/Ralph Mathekga: Why Ramaphosa is not attending the Davos summit

Ralph Mathekga: Why Ramaphosa is not attending the Davos summit

2020-01-21 09:45

The President did not skip Davos because he is worried about the collective within the ANC which might take a decision he would not like simply because he is ticked “absent” on the register that day. This is about whom the president leaves the ANC with, writes Ralph Mathekga

Legend
has it that back in the days when most countries on the African continent were
under the control of despotic leaders, heads of states rarely traveled outside
their countries.

A simple round trip by the president to a United Nations
gathering in New York could easily be upgraded to a one-way trip to exile.

Dictators were wise enough to know that of all the risks faced as a despot, it
would be an unforgivable own goal to travel outside your country only to be met
by the military having taken over the airport upon your return, if you are
brave enough to even return.

The
fear of being removed from power while on an overseas trip is probably the
reason dictatorship regimes can slash unnecessary travel costs.

Despotic
leaders do not have to waste public funds travelling all over the world telling
everybody about what they are doing at home.

Dictators tend to focus on doing
the work at home and cut out travel frills.

Democratic
governments, however, are known to blow huge sums of public funds on travelling
costs, as the president travels freely without fear of being deposed.

Therefore,
I was very surprised to hear that President Ramaphosa decided to save the
taxpayer some money by not travelling to Davos this time around.

I thought it
was a good gesture for the president to send his ministers to Davos, while he remains
behind to give an ear to further refinement of the RET (Radical Economic
Transformation) as the ANC NEC was meeting over the weekend.

I
have heard a rather disturbing explanation that President Ramaphosa is also
concerned that he will lose grounds within his party if he leaves for
Switzerland.

Since we are not a dictatorship, Ramaphosa cannot be said to fear
being removed in his absence. I think the president rather fears returning to a
new policy about Eskom, and probably even the new Tzar in charge of Eskom,
instead of minister Pravin Gordhan.

Such turn of events would really SHOCK the
president upon his return from Davos.

Therefore,
he thought it necessary to stay behind and be there at the party’s critical
NEC meeting to ensure there are no big moves that further pushes Eskom away
from the solution.

The mathematics I have been following is pointing me to a
complex equation as to why the president decided to ditch Davos for the ANC NEC
meeting. There is a serious explanation than the polite reason I’ve seen making
rounds.

The
President did not skip Davos because he is worried about the collective within
the ANC which might take a decision he would not like simply because he is
ticked “absent” on the register that day.

This is about whom the president
leaves the ANC with.

Let
me put it this way, had deputy president David Mabuza decided to grace the
Davos gathering with his refreshing take on the Fourth Industrial Revolution
(4IR), someone would have ditched the ANC NEC to go bolster the delegation that
is headed to Davos.  

Since
the deputy president spoke publicly about Eskom, he might enjoy becoming even
more bolder in pronouncing on the mistakes that are made in government.

Therefore, President Ramaphosa seems to have resorted to keeping his deputy on
a close watch so he does not cause problems by targeting the president’s
allies.

The question is whether this strategy will help Ramaphosa as he
struggles to show that he is charge. I wonder if this strategy will be enough
to ensure stability of Ramaphosa’s presidency.

– Dr Ralph Mathekga is a political analyst and author of When Zuma Goes and Ramaphosa’s Turn.

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