Will the real Cyril Ramaphosa please stand up?
The Times Editorial: A series of e-mails sent by Cyril Ramaphosa to Lonmin executives is likely to severely damage the politician-turned-businessman's reputation.
The correspondence was revealed yesterday at the Marikana commission of inquiry, at a time when the election of Ramaphosa as deputy to President Jacob Zuma at the ANC's elective conference in December is being touted.
Two e-mails are particularly revealing about Ramaphosa's close relationship with senior ANC figures, and about his views on the behaviour of the men who took part in the illegal strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine.
In the first e-mail, dated October 15, Ramaphosa tells the mining company's executives that he had contacted Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu and warned her of the consequences of her department's inaction.
He also says that he would talk to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe about the need for the party to intervene in the strike.
His second e-mail reveals a certain coldness towards the strikers, whom he casts as criminals.
This is in stark contrast to what Ramaphosa said on his visit to Marikana a day after the deaths of 34 miners at the hands of police. Then, as part of a delegation sent by Zuma, Ramaphosa portrayed himself as a sympathetic figure who understood the "volatility" of the mining industry. He said he had "been there".
A day later, Ramaphosa's Shanduka Group said it would contribute R2-million to the funeral costs of the dead miners.
"It is critical that all parties take meaningful steps to ensure that nothing of this nature ever happens again. For this reason, Shanduka Group supports a full and thorough investigation into ... this incident," Shanduka said.
Ramaphosa will need all the negotiating skills he employed as a trade union leader.
These e-mails put him firmly on the side of Lonmin - and it does not look at all nice.