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Cyril Ramaphosa : Whats he doing out

here, in Sri Lanka?

TRC South Africa based on truth

Ranga Jayasuriya-Wednesday,July16, 2014
Not usually, does the second in command of
a regional power, flanked by a presidential delegation, fly thousands miles to some
embattled small State, disguised as tourists to talk to the adversaries of a protracted
domestic problem. However, Cyril amaphosa, the !eputy "resident of South #frica
and the ruling #frican National Congress, pretty much did that$ at least if you are to
believe the Sri %ankan governments initial remarks on the visit by the South #frican
&hat is notwithstanding, that "resident 'ahinda a(apaksa, faced with increasing
international criticism, during the Commonwealth Heads of )overnment 'eeting
*CH+)', sought the good offices of his South #frican counterpart -ecob .uma, the
polygamist South #frican president, who, then appointed amaphosa as his special
envoy to Sri %anka.
amaphosa, a respected and formidable negotiator was the chief negotiator of the #NC
in the talks with the /hite #partheid government. However, on his arrival in Colombo,
he himself was baffled by the cynical government response. Cabinet Spokesman,
0eheliya ambukwella, earlier suggested that the South #frican delegation were
tourists and another government interlocutor remarked that South #fricans are here to
see "roteas playing Sri %anka on their Sri %ankan cricket tour. /orse still, /imal
/eerawansa and his ilk of the ultra1nationalist camp within the government
unleashed a scathing attack on South #frica, accusing it of maintaining contacts with
the %&&2.
amaphosas first task in Sri %anka was to know the intention of his Sri %ankan hosts.
#s he sat down with "resident 'ahinda a(apaksa, amaphosa reminded his Sri
%ankan host that the South #fricans are e3tending their good offices on his invitation
and if they are not needed, they are willing to pull out. 4n other words, he made it clear
that they do not want to be a football to be kicked around for internal political

!iffering strategies
&he strategy of South #frican facilitation is different from Sri %ankas former
facilitator, Norway, who engaged in a high profile campaign and stomached a greater
deal of often unfair criticism. However, dynamics have changed since then and Sri
%anka has fewer friends among the powerful States than it had ten years back. /hile
the South #frican political system has been rotten since the hey day of the charismatic
'andela "residency, South #frica still retains a greater deal of international
recognition *4ncumbent "resident .uma has been investigated for millions of !ollars
illegally spent for renovating his private residency, while a large swathe of 5lack South
#fricans live in e3treme poverty under sub human conditions. 4n the meantime, 67
years since the end of #partheid, an average /hite takes home si3 times of pay of a
.umas offer of good offices to his Sri %ankan counterpart vindicates that "retoria,
specially .uma himself, view the world through lenses different from many other of
their counterparts in the liberal democratic world. However, amaphosa, who
'andela wanted to be his !eputy "resident 67 years back, and is now set to succeed
.uma at the end of his second term, is a different kettle of fish. He is respected both at
home and internationally and admired by business circles and trade unions. He has
stuck to his guns against the ruinous rule of obert 'ugabe in .imbabwe, while the
#NC is somewhat amenable to the aging autocrat.
amaphosa, who eyes #NC presidency has an influential 4ndian community that is
keen about "retorias role in Colombo.
&his is what amaphosa told the 4ndian crowds at an event held at Shri 'ariamman
&emple in 'ount 2dgecombe, 0wa.ulu1Nata , several months back about his new role
as the Special 2nvoy in Sri %anka.
8/hen our "resident went to Sri %anka, the "resident of Sri %anka said, "resident
.uma, please could you assist us to find permanent peace amongst our people here in
Sri %anka.8
8He said he would like South #frica to play a critical role in helping to cement the
people of Sri %anka together9 # number of our own compatriots have been busy with
the peace making process in Sri %anka for over 6: years.8
8%ast year they felt they wanted to in(ect more life, more energy in the process by
asking "resident .uma to get South #frica more deeply involved. &o this end, he then
appointed a Special 2nvoy that is myself, to get more formally involved in
consolidating the peace process in Sri %anka.8
8/e have been having a lot of consultations with a number of role players that have
come here to brief us about the situation in Sri %anka. /e have met with the
government delegation, and they gave us a full briefing of the efforts they are making
to consolidate peace there. /e also met a delegation of the &amil National #lliance,
who were also here to brief us (ust a week or so ago. /e met them and had deep and
long discussions with them.8
8Soon we will be undertaking a visit to Sri %anka, with !eputy 'inister within the
"residents +ffice, and a number of other comrades, we will be going to Sri %anka, to
go and have deep discussions with various role players in Sri %anka. 8
&his particular constituency is watching and one of the influential members of that
community who also happened to be the first coloured High Court -udge of post
#partheid South #frica, Navi "illay, who is now the ;N Human ights Chief has
launched an investigation into the conduct of the very government, amaphosa is
helping to find peace.
amaphosa, who is e<ually concerned about a conflict interests emanating from the
South #frican role in Sri %anka and the ;N war crime investigation, has decided to
steer clear of those implications.
4n -affna, he assured the &amil National #lliance that his role was complimentary to
the ;N probe and the 4ndian efforts for a greater devolution under the 6= #mendment
and 6= "lus.
!uring his two day visit, amaphosa met with the "resident 'ahinda a(apaksa, a
delegation of Cabinet of 'inisters led by ).%."eiris, the &amil National #lliance and
the +pposition %eader anil /ickremesinghe.
!uring the deliberations, what was palpable was that the lack of clarity in the Sri
%ankan intentions with regard to the South #frican role.
&he "resident wanted the South #fricans to help to get the &N# to participate in the
"arliamentary Select Committee *"SC,. He also wanted the South #fricans to share
their e3perience of the &ruth and econciliation Commission *&C, process in order to
e3plore the possibility of Sri %anka adopting a similar mechanism.
However, again, there was no clarity in the government as to how such
e3pertise would be used and the South #fricans have stressed that &C can
not be implemented in isolation from other political reforms that address the
minority grievances.
&he general and largely flawed view of South #fricas &C in the political circles in
Colombo is that it was mechanism, to grant amnesty to perpetrators of crime.
However, in fact, South #frican &C, while granted amnesty to some, depending on
the crime and the full confession to those atrocities, refused a total of >,=?@ amnesty
applications, granting only 7A? out of the B,66@ applications. 4t held televised hearings
of the commission, where both victims and perpetrators made statements and helped
the country come to terms with the full e3tent of the horror of #partheid. /hether, the
Sri %ankan )overnment would want allegations blamed on its security apparatus be
televised live is open to <uestion.
&he secrecy that has enveloped the South #frican role highlights the lack of clarity in
the entire initiative.
2arlier, a 'inisterial delegation led by the %eader of the House Nimal Siripala de Silva
visited "retoria. &he visit caused much curiosity after amaphosas office said, back
then, that the visit by the Sri %ankans was taken on their own initiative C and not on
the invitation of South #frica. &he governments intension is that South #frican
initiative would help it procrastinate the process for a political solution, which is not a
priority for the incumbent administration. 4t also e3pects amaphosa to serve as a
bulwark against more intrusive 4ndian and potential ;N initiatives.
However, amaphosa has stressed that the South #frican role is not in conflict with
the on1 going 4ndian initiatives. * 4n the point of view of newly assertive 4ndian foreign
policy, New !elhi is unlikely to tolerate a contradictory approach in its backyard by a
foreign power,.

amaphosas visit did not have a breakthrough in terms of &N#s
participation in the "arliamentary Select Committee. However, should the
&N# be coa3ed to attend the "SC, it would not end the stalemate. &he main
+pposition, ;N" and -D", are boycotting the "SC and the 'uslim Congress
has been e3cluded from the "SC. &he government has offered Sinhala
nationalist members an enhanced representation in the list, while also
e3cluding the former #"C Chairman, &issa Ditharana .
&he government, thanks to its pandering to the hard1line is making things hard for
amaphosa. 4t may not be long before, even amaphosa is humbled by the magnitude
of political trickery in this country.