The Presidential Years

He followed the same logic [as he had in the case of the National Chairrperson] when he felt he needed to appoint Cyril as his deputy in government – he thought that he can’t have a deputy who is Xhosa. So he consulted with people in Cosatu in the manner that I say and he consulted with people in the SACP and they gave him their concurrence. But Madiba being Madiba, he was also an operator, because he first consulted those people before he went to the officials.

He then called the officials, and he asks Cyril and Thabo to recuse themselves from the meeting. Now he is left with Nkobi, JZ and Sisulu. He says, about the Cabinet, I am thinking of appointing Cyril as Deputy President but I know that a lot of people would think that maybe it should be Thabo for a whole range of reasons. But I have already consulted with our allies, the SACP and Cosatu, and both of them say it should be Cyril, they agree with me because of this ethnic thing.

So JZ said, no; Nkobi said, no; Sisulu said, no. I am told that Sisulu’s argument was basically that, at that stage, Cyril doesn’t quite know the ANC, he’s young, he’s new to the ANC, talented, he needs time to grow.

But Madiba says, no, we are a tripartite alliance and I’ve just told you that two of the three agree with me. Sisulu was something else: he says, no, no, no, these are the views of our allies, but on a matter like this you don’t vote with the allies, you consult them, you take their views into account, and you take your own decision - and I am saying the decision on this matter must be taken by the ANC; then we have to debate what I’m saying: Thabo is not new in the ANC; we worked with him when he was a youngster, before we went to jail. And we know he has always been there. So Madiba decided not to take a decision at that meeting.

​ Sydney Mufamaadi