South Africa: Ramaphosa and the Ghost of Kuzwayo

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The attempt to succeed the incumbent South African President Jacob Zuma is creating a lot of scrutiny and controversy. What else do you expect when you are dealing with or close to an incredibly controversial leader like Lord Zuma? To some South Africans, their aspiring ANC leader cum Presidential aspirant, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa is a different political entity. Yes, different from the corrupt-ridden President Jacob Zuma, they would argue. However, to others, Mr. Ramaphosa is just the same old South African wine, labelled and neatly packaged in a new bottle. The present debate over Mr. Ramaphosa is indeed getting louder daily, especially now that every movement and utterances of his are closely analysed and (mis)interpreted.

The recent comment by Mr. Ramaphosa that he believes the allegation of Ms. Kuzwayo, that she was raped by South Africa’s President Zuma, has created a lot of debate. Some applauded Mr. Ramaphosa for his bold, unequivocal and clear response. Unlike his rival candidate for ANC presidency Lindiwe Sisulu, who responded: “I believe she believes she was raped” when asked her opinion about the rape allegation against President Zuma, Mr. Ramaphosa, on the other hand, said categorically that he believes Ms. Kuzwayo’s rape allegation against President Zuma was true. Not everyone believes Mr. Ramaphosa is being honest. Some accused him of being an opportunist, who wants to use the rape allegation for his political aggrandizement. They wondered what Mr. Ramaphosa did to support Ms. Kuzwayo when she was alive.

Looking back at the South African political terrain, with likes of political prostitutes, it does not take much to categorize Mr. Ramaphosa amongst them. Would one put Mr. Ramaphosa in the same political box as Julius Malema? It is easy to do so, but others have argued that Mr. Ramaphosa is another political breed. Mr. Malema once vehemently defended President Zuma’s innocence during the rape trial (Still remember that loyal, zealous statement: “I will kill for President Zuma,” don’t you?) and mocked the accuser Ms. Kuzwayo, for having “enjoyed” the sex with Present Zuma. After being dismissed from the ANC, Julius Malema suddenly became President Zuma harshest critic. Looking back, one begins to wonder whether Mr. Ramaphosa is presently being critical of President Zuma just to brush up his political CV and ambition. Some ask why Mr. Ramaphosa did not clearly make his present stand on the rape allegation known all these years. Was Mr. Ramaphosa trying to protect his business interest, knowing that such a criticism against the then powerful and influential Zuma, could cripple his business interest and ambitions?

“I know how difficult and painful it is to for a woman to garner up the courage and say: ‘Yes I was raped’. It must be one of the most difficult decisions she had to make.” Mr. Ramaphosa praised Ms. Kuzwayo’s courage.
Sadly, after accusing President Zuma of raping her, members of the ruling ANC at the time treated Ms. Kuzwayo, an HIV-positive, who was 32 years younger than Mr. Zuma, terribly bad. She later fled abroad and died after a long illness.

Despite her death and President Jacob Zuma’s claim that he took a shower after having Sex with Ms. Kuzwayo to avoid contacting aids, the sad spirit of Ms. Kuzwayo is still hovering over the political territory of South Africa. Until the truth behind her story is told, her ghost will continue to hurt many South African leaders.