You have to give it to Cyril Ramaphosa.
Caught between a party that’s cannibalising itself and a country crumbling under the weight of socio-economic neglect, he’s shown some real grit as President of South Africa.
Usually calm and composed, yesterday he was visibly irritated as he verbally sparred with MPs over the week’s leading story – the suspension of the ANC’s secretary general (SC), Ace Magashule.
Remarks by the EFF that Ramaphosa had actually been suspended by Magashule first, a counter-strategy by the corruption-dogged SC that has death-spasm despair and delusional rubbish written all over it, was dismissed with the contempt it deserves.
The DA was also matter-of-factly told that what happens within ANC ranks is none of its business.
Luckily it was a hybrid plenary session in which the Port of Durban also prominently featured.
Commenting on the fact that it’s slipped two notches in its standing as the continent’s leading port, Ramaphosa said: “The importance of the Durban port lies at the heart of our economy. It is the largest logistical hub for imports and exports. During the last decade it lost its status as the best-performing port on the African continent. We have now descended to number three.”
Reclaiming its lost glory as Africa’s primary port will, over the next decade, necessitate expanded capacity for container handling from 2.9 million to 11 million.
That much has already been reported.
That it forms part of a R100-billion turnaround infrastructural investment project has also made headlines alongside the usual ANC in-fighting.
Concerns over how this will be done, in tandem with private sector partners to fix where public sector officials have failed, caused Narend Singh of the Inkatha Freedom Party to probe Ramaphosa about purported privatisation fears.
Said the President: “Concession for (a) new port terminal in 2021 to improve container handling is not privatisation of the port. It brings opportunities for build-operate-transfer and private-public partnership opportunities and thousands of jobs."
Would Ramaphosa be prepared to face up to organised labour in this regard, Singh wanted to know.
He said: "We welcome the plans, but the interests of our people and our nation's sovereignty and national assets should come first. Labour unions are concerned that they were not consulted properly about this. What is the position regarding labour's stance on this initiative?"
Ramaphosa replied: “Labour will always, and correctly so, be concerned about initiatives that could lead to a loss of jobs. They are right to be concerned about not being consulted because labour should be consulted on the trajectory of companies they work for.
“Labour should not hold back from sitting on the board of companies that they work for. It gives them a seat not just to listen but to participate in the decisions that are being taken. Labour is concerned that Transnet is privatising the port, but that is far from the truth.”