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Cyril Ramaphosa must fall for Africa to rise

By Gugulethu Hughes

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.

South Africa’s embattled President Cyril Ramaphosa ticks all the boxes of a person that should never be allowed to wield power. Since becoming President, black South Africans’ living conditions have deteriorated spectacularly while white peoples have significantly improved. 

Ramaphosa is seemingly on a whirlwind drive to destroy the aspirations of black people who previously waged the war against white domination. He is not only a threat to South Africans, but all Africans due to his proximity to colonialism. 

Political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki was right to characterize him as an apparatchik. He executes White Monopoly Capital plans with absolutely zero guilt. In recent weeks, and for good cause, those unethical activities may finally be catching up to him.  

Mining Industrial Complex

Cyril Ramaphosa is a direct product of the mining industrial complex. He rose to popularity through involvement in Labour Union activities in the mines. 

According to a submission on the SA History website, Johannesburg was named after Johann Friedrich Bernhard Rissik and Christiaan Johannes Joubert. The ‘burg’ part is Afrikaans for “fortified city.” Johannesburg soon became known as the City of Gold in line with the colonist culture of naming cities after commodities available for extraction. 

Based on European narratives, Johannesburg was christened the City of Gold because its founding was on the back of gold discovery on the site in 1886 by Australian gold prospector George Harrison. Though most of the Johannesburg gold mines closed in the 1970s, the city once produced more than 40% of global gold production. Even though most of the gold produced in South Africa is now mined outside of Johannesburg, the city remains the home for mining companies’ headquarters. So attractive and popular was Johannesburg as a place of gold that the mines created the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association (WENELA) to attract migrant labour into the mines. Natives also began to refer to Johannesburg as “eGoli” (a place of gold). 

To this day, the city remains a gold rush in monetary terms. The city provides more opportunities for money-making and influence, which is precisely why the rise of Cyril Ramaphosa must be viewed within the lens of Johannesburg, mines, gold, and money. 

Ramaphosa’s rise

Though he did not work in the mines, he became the inaugural Secretary General of the National Union of Mineworkers in 1982. On June 9th, 1983, the National Union of Mineworkers became the first black labour union in the mining industry to be recognized by the Chamber of Mines of South Africa. Cyril Ramaphosa also sat on the board of Urban Foundation which was founded by mining magnates. The Chamber of Mines represented the interests of mining companies and here was an organisation founded by Cyril Ramaphosa becoming the first black labour union movement to get recognition from the Chamber of Mines.  

Writing for the Christian Science Monitor in 1986, staff correspondent Paul Van Slambrouck had this to say about the agreement reached between the Chamber of Mines and the National Union of Mineworkers, 

“Black trade unionism has scored an important breakthrough in South Africa. It is further evidence that while blacks here remain severely restricted in the political sphere, new opportunities are opening up to them in the labour field. The main reason is basic shifts in this country’s white-controlled economy that in some respects are overpowering government ideology. For the first time, an independent black trade union has moved legally into South Africa’s crucial mining sector… As the Chamber of Mines has explained, the opening up of the tightly controlled mining compounds to black unions is simply a recognition that the status and demands of black workers are rising. It is in the employers’ interest not to resist the ”inevitable,” notes a spokesman for the chamber…”  

The Chamber of Mines viewed Cyril Ramaphosa as a means to ensure White Monopoly Capital watered down worker protests. They did so by offering opportunities for skilling up in order to increase efficiency in the mining production processes for the benefit of the white power structure. 

In 1985, Ramaphosa confirmed two important views, one from Moeletsi Mbeki and another from the Chamber of Mines. He alluded to journalist Julie Frederiske that in 1981 he joined the Council of Unions of South Africa as a legal advisor and that the organisation lacked political ideology and was composed of whites at a strategic level. 

Nonetheless, being an apparatchik that he is, he joined the organisation for the purposes of getting involved in “worker struggles.” When asked about his interest in the mining industry, his response was, “…when I was at university, I always thought that one of the things I should do on leaving university was to go and work on a mine because the mines represented to me utter degradation of man, utter exploitation and I wanted to experience that so that I can be able to do something about it if necessary…” 

But ultimately, the union didn’t address the utter degradation and utter exploitation of man. Instead, it focused on cosmetic negotiation for better wages and on upskilling of workers. The truth is, however, degradation and exploitation can only be addressed through repossession of mines from white hands. In years to come, Cyril Ramaphosa transitioned into a shareholder in various mines and held directorships in different companies in the mining industry, contributing to the continued exploitation of workers.  

By 2012, Cyril Ramaphosa owned Shanduka Resources, a subsidiary of Shanduka Group. Shanduka Group had lots of significant investments in the coal mining sector which included a 40% stake in Kangra Coal. 

In October of 2011, Cyril Ramaphosa and Glencore announced they’d formed a 50/50 strategic partnership to pursue acquisitions in South Africa’s coal mining industry. This relationship led to Ramaphosa’s Shanduka Coal and Glencore acquiring a controlling stake in Optimum Mine with Ramaphosa becoming the Chairman. Shanduka Coal, with Glencore having a 70% stake, went on to acquire a 23% stake at Lonmin while Shanduka, through vendor financing, received R2.26 billion rands from Lonmin to acquire a 50.03% stake in Incwala Resources. 

Glencore and Cyril Ramaphosa’s Shanduka were beneficiaries of 3 coal supply deals the national energy producer Eskom had with Umcebo Coal, Optimum Coal, and Shanduka Coal. Even though Ramaphosa divested his interests when he became Deputy President, his influence was seen in how he handled the Eskom war room and, in the hounding, out of Eskom executives like Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko. 

Even when the State Capture Commission was formed, its focus was on absolving the unethical Glencore from any wrongdoing in relation to coal supply negotiations and agreements with Eskom. The real evidence exhibited the fact that Glencore was sabotaging Eskom by wanting to charge more to similar coal grade that company Tegeta was supplying at a lower price. As a result, the country was plunged into loadshedding with mainstream media getting the directive to apportion the blame to President Zuma, Tegeta, and Eskom Executives like Matshela Koko and Brian Molefe. 

The blame game worked. All the individuals and organisations that pursued a fair deal for Eskom became the subjects of the State Capture Commission and were prevented from having influence on Eskom. Today, the power utility is releasing its final breath as it undergoes the final stages of privatisation. The European Union and USA are going to fund the total phase out of coal in the South Africa energy mix. 

Ramaphosa’s brother-in-law, Patrice Motsepe, through his business Africa Rainbow Minerals, also has relationships with Glencore in the coal mining sector and supplies to Eskom. His newly formed Africa Rainbow Energy is the biggest local beneficiary of the Independent Power Producer agreements. It’s also a part of Ikamva Consortium, which is bagging deals with the Ministry of Energy for supply of renewables into the Eskom grid.  

Cyril Ramaphosa is also a former director of Lonmin, and in 2014 when miners were striking for wage increases, the company reached out to him for leadership. His response as seen in the leaked emails was that worker actions were criminal. In line with that characterization, action was taken. A few hours later, 24 miners were shot dead by police, and many more others injured. 

Ramaphosa’s world-wide connections

Both Cyril Ramaphosa and Patrice Motsepe have a strong relationship with United Arab Emirates authorities and with Qatar, who owns a 9% stake in Glencore. In 2021, Qatar Investment Authority entered a joint venture with Enel’s Enel Green Power to build and operate renewable energy plants in sub-Saharan Africa. Under this deal, the QIA acquires 50% stake in all EGP projects in operation and under construction in South Africa and Zambia. 

Even when Ramaphosa is receptive to the phase out of coal energy in South Africa, his brother-in-law Patrice Motsepe is strategically positioned to feed the Eskom grid through expensive renewable energies. Instead of ending exploitation in the mining industry, Cyril Ramaphosa is leading the onslaught on rendering miners in the coal industry obsolete while ensuring that miners in other sectors continue to live in degrading conditions. 

In recent weeks, Cyril Ramaphosa was chased away by Sibanye Stillwater miners who are calling for wage increases. Ramaphosa, who had previous interests in Sibanye, is doing nothing to ensure the workers’ needs are met. Throughout his business and trade unionist career, Ramaphosa solely improved the conditions of his wallet while the exploited proletariat suffered. 

Meanwhile, in New York, Glencore made a guilty plea after being charged with bribery and market manipulations. Jdsupra.com summarised the guilty plea as follows, 

“Glencore entered a plea of guilty in the Southern District of New York to one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) in connection with a plea agreement it reached with the DOJ… According to the documents filed as part of the guilty plea, Glencore admitted to paying bribes to foreign agents and judicial officials from 2007 through 2018 to secure oil contracts, avoid government audits, and make pending lawsuits disappear in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Brazil, Venezuela, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The corrupt payments Glencore admitted to making totalled more than $100 million…”  

Even though South Africa is not explicitly mentioned in the guilty plea, South African media, at this point a Ramaphosa Public Relations machinery, avoided focus on Glencore. One has to assume this was especially because Glencore’s largest shareholder is Ivan Glasenberg, a South African European who now enjoys Swiss citizenship. 

Despite everything, Cyril Ramaphosa has remained silent on Glencore’s shenanigans and is not likely to form an inquiry into Glencore activities in South Africa. Based on Cyril’s track record as a white man’s right hand, even if a commission was formed to investigate Glencore’s conduct, the mandate would be to absolve the company from any wrongdoing. 

Just a month ago, Ramaphosa was cutting the ribbon for another mining giant, Anglo American, on the launch of their new so-called zero emission green truck made through use of materials acquired unethically.  

Trophy Hunting and Game Farming  

Mining aside, Cyril Ramaphosa also owns Phala Phala Game Farm. This nets him millions of USA dollars through proceeds from the sale of his wild animal fleet. In 2020, Peta Asia did an undercover investigation into how Ramaphosa secretly benefitted from trophy hunting activities. 

Just recently, he was reported to the Rosebank Police Station by former State Security Director General Arthur Fraser for not opening a case for a crime that took place in his game farm residence. The criminal case alleges over $US4 million was stolen from Ramaphosa’s farmhouse, but he didn’t report the case to the police. 

He hasn’t denied the allegations, but has sought to provide dizzying excuses as to why he did not report the case. At the same time, storing that amount of money in a foreign currency flouts the South African Revenue Services regulations. 

There are now reports that Ramaphosa managed to track down to Namibia the people who stole from him and secretly extradited them into South Africa. If true, that would mean he flouted the regulations governing the extradition of wanted peoples, too. There are fears that the stolen money was indeed proceeds from illegal activities and enough to incarcerate Ramaphosa without even the benefit of a trial.  

The media’s role

Despite the clear criminality, mainstream media has launched an attack on Arthur Fraser for reporting the crime, letting Ramaphosa off the hook. 

In January this year, Cyril Ramaphosa moved the State Security Ministry into the Presidency office so he can have more control over the concealment of his alleged crimes. 

The media has a role to inform and transform social attitudes, but South Africa’s mainstream media seemingly exists to protect Ramaphosa at all costs. Journalism ethics have been thrown to the dogs to protect a man who refuses to take responsibility for anything. 

Among all of this, black peoples’ living conditions have worsened while European affluence has risen. The man’s thuggery is too visible for the media to ignore. He’s captured the courts who are covering his tracks. He’s turned the National Prosecuting Authority into a serial Cyril protector. He even is quick to enter into deals with killer organisations like the World Health Organisation and World Economic Forum and has become their representative for the destruction of black Africans. 

If South Africa ever had a dictator, then Cyril Ramaphosa is the one dictator that must tumble from power – together with all those who sponsor his thuggery and aid him to avoid accountability.

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Gugulethu Hughes


Gugulethu Hughes is the ScoonTV Africa correspondent

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