How South Africa’s likely next president was kicked out of Kenya

Cyril Ramaphosa

The year is 2008, Kenya is in turmoil after witnessing a bungled election and a violent aftermath that claimed the lives of thousands of Kenyans.

Incumbent and PNU party leader Mwai Kibaki maintains he won, fair and square while his opposite ODM leader Raila Odinga stands firm as well. “I won,” he says, “The election was stolen.”

A flurry of negotiators are flown in to aid in bringing peace and stability to the country. They are brought in to try and sit the two big men in one table and reach a compromise.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former heads of State; Dr Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), Sir Quett Masire (Botswana), Mr Joachim Chissano (Mozambique) and Mr Benjamin Mkapa (Tanzania) and John Kufuor (Ghana) are among the leaders flown in to chair the negotiations.

But, one after the other, they come, try their best and leave. And then a South African negotiator is flown in. A “tenacious negotiator,” is what the papers call him.

48 hours after landing into the country, he is put on a plane and flown back to his motherland; bitter and dejected. Rejected like the other negotiators before him; only more humiliated.

The ruling party, PNU, led by the vocal Martha Karua, accuses him of being biased due to his business dealings with their opponent, Raila Amolo Odinga.

That man, was Cyril Ramaphosa, and close to a decade down the line, he would grow to become South Africa’s Vice President.

And then, in an interesting turn of events, he would win the ruling South African party, African National Congress’presidency and, possibly, the nation’s next head of state.

On Tuesday, Ramaphosa beat Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma by about 200 votes to head the African National Congress (ANC) party, which moves him to just within inches of the top job.

Having been disgraced in Kenya, Ramaphosa is now poised to be the president of South Africa and the same country that kicked him out will have to officially invite, wine and dine him. What 10 years can do.

His friend and business partner Raila Odinga was fast in congratulating Ramaphosa for his win saying he will restore democracy in South Africa.

“Ramaphosa’s background as democratic liberationist, trade union leader and high-level business executive, and his lifelong Pan Africanism, will also give new energy..and the restored democratic transformations that are indispensable to it,” he said.


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