JOHANNESBURG. – President Cyril Ramaphosa was expected to host a dinner yesterday evening in honour of his predecessor former president Jacob Zuma.
The Presidency’s Tyrone Seale confirmed that President Ramaphosa would be hosting a private dinner for former President Zuma and his Cabinet, amid talks of a looming Cabinet reshuffle.
The cocktail affair, set to be taking place at Tuynhuys in Cape Town was meant to bid farewell to Cde Zuma and members of his executive. Cde Zuma resigned last week, following “transitional” talks between himself and the ANC’s newly-elected leadership collective.
Former president Zuma was not present for President Ramaphosa’s election, nor his maiden State of the Nation Address. In an exclusive interview with the SABC, just hours before he resigned, Cde Zuma questioned the ANC leadership’s decision to recall him as South Africa’s head of state and said he was not defying the movement, but disagreed with its leaders.
He also claimed he was not provided with reasons to explain why the NEC had recalled him. Attempts to confirm Zuma’s attendance were unsuccessful. News24’s resident analyst Ralph Mathekga said it was odd that President Ramaphosa was hosting a dinner in honour of the controversial former president.
“Is this for KwaZulu-Natal? Is he trying to say, don’t worry, we are throwing a party for Zuma, we will protect him,” questioned Mathekga.
He said it was clear that the ANC had no intention of publicly distancing itself away from the former president, which he said could cost President Ramaphosa.
“Maybe they are trying to curb the nation’s excitement and say there is actually no new dawn – or even to deal with Zuma, to manage him,” speculated Mathekga.
They might have to say he was great once in a while, even though they know he is not, the analyst said.
Mathekga said he believed the move could also be an attempt to show KZN that Cde Zuma, who is from that province, was still valued by the movement, in a bid to retain support from one of the country’s largest provinces come election time in 2019.
“If you are in trouble in KZN when it comes to the elections, then you are in trouble in the whole country,” he said.
Mathekga questioned the timing, saying there were other matters Ramaphosa should be focusing on which were more urgent than allaying the fears of Zuma supporters. – News24