Ngoako Ramatlhodi — who was axed from cabinet by President Jacob Zuma last week — says those who helped Zuma rise to power, including himself, must take responsibility for the crisis in the country.
Ramatlhodi said he had backed Zuma to defeat then president Thabo Mbeki in 2007 because he believed Zuma was being unfairly treated.
“I was at the forefront of it … we have to accept what we did when we did it,” he said.
“I went to Pietermaritzburg [to attend Zuma’s corruption trial] every day with Comrade Kgalema [Motlanthe] … Look, I think we were angry at the time. My feeling was he was being unfairly treated. He was stopped from being president [and they were] using legal process.”
Although Ramatlhodi does not regret supporting Zuma, he thinks the president’s decision to remove him and four other ministers was motivated by Zuma’s desire to influence the election of the new ANC president. Zuma is believed to prefer former AU Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa.
“I think what is happening is that the president is trying to influence the outcome of the next conference. And because he is the president he is allowed to play his card. We gave that card to him, now he is allowed to play it … I think it is the last card he had to play,” he said.
Another former Zuma supporter, ex-Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi, said he believed those who supported Zuma were under some spell.
“It was like we were drinking muthi [medicine]. We were hypnotised. When we look back we say, ‘my God, what is that we drank?’.”
Ramatlhodi said he would focus on his businesses while remaining an ANC national executive committee member. He has not decided whether to resign as an MP, or whether he will participate in the no-confidence vote on April 18.
Last week, Zuma did not inform Ramatlhodi of his axing.
Ramatlhodi was a self-confessed loudmouth in calling for Mbeki to go and getting Zuma elected.
He calls himself the “most outspoken of them all”, more so than Julius Malema or Vavi.
During the struggle between Zuma and Mbeki, Ramatlhodi penned columns attacking Mbeki for his position on HIV and used public platforms to discredit him.