Shortly after Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as President of South Africa, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tweeted: “172 documents from WikiLeaks’s archives referencing South Africa’s new president”.
What these documents revealed was predictable: Ramaphosa is liked by business, Western governments and Israel, while it is widely accepted that he remains a socialist at heart.
The documents that Assange refers to come predominantly from two sources: the Global Intelligence Files, consisting of a trove of information that belonged to a Texas-based intelligence firm, Stratfor, which sells intelligence to large corporations; and the infamous CableGate database which saw WikiLeaks shoot to fame in 2010 and is made up of US diplomatic cables. Most are simply reports of news events at the time that happen to contain a passing reference to Ramaphosa.
A few contain a bit more. In a 2006 forecasting document, Stratfor said that if either Mathews Phosa, Ramaphosa or Tokyo Sexwale ran for president in 2009 they would “have the backing of the greater South African business community and the pro-business wing of the ANC”.
Within the CableGate files, in February 2010 former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Dov Segev-Steinberg, told US diplomats that people within the ANC with whom the Jewish state could work, were Phosa and Ramaphosa. The ambassador stated at the time [but which continues to be the case] that Israeli-South African relations were poor.
In July 2006 Michael Danke, a Counsellor at the US Embassy in South Africa, while commenting on MTN’s billion-dollar buy-in into the Syrian cellular market, said that Ramaphosa (who at the time was the MTN chairman) “remains a committed socialist despite his recent business success”.
On November 19, 2007 analyst Dele Olojede told US diplomats that while President Thabo Mbeki “has essentially sewn up the nomination as ANC president at the upcoming December 2007 party conference” (when in fact he was defeated by Jacob Zuma), it was Ramaphosa who was “the best- qualified candidate for the job”.
And then there’s a document, “Some Light Conspiracy Reading”, that was released by Stratfor in 2001. Titled “High Treason: an Intelligence Report on South Africa”, written by Gunter Schickelgruber, the pen-name of an anonymous author whose disposition is revealed by his choice of Hitler’s birth surname as a pseudonym. The report claimed not only that Ramaphosa was a member of a secret society within the ANC, but also made a series of defamatory claims that even Noseweek in good conscience cannot repeat.
Stratfor did have some more practical observations to make, namely that doing business in South Africa needed political cover, and that Ramaphosa was one to provide it. In a 2008 forecasting document, Stratfor wrote: “Private industry in South Africa has built BBBEE partnerships to comply with the ANC government’s goals for the initiative. Such empowerment partnerships have included several high-profile and politically connected black businessmen, including Tokyo Sexwale, Cyril Ramaphosa, Patrice Motsepe, Mathews Phosa and Saki Macozoma. As a result, those men have become tremendously wealthy. Detractors of BBBEE, say the initiative has created dollar-denominated billionaires while it has not led to any significant reduction in economic inequality.
“In any case, BBBEE partnerships between private industry and politically connected tycoons have been a means of complying with government’s BBBEE goals.”
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