Could Cyril Ramaphosa Be the Best Leader South Africa Has Not
Bill Keller • New York Times Magazine
As apartheid ended, Ramaphosa was in line to become deputy president. He didn't get the job. Now one of the richest men in Africa, he is finally getting the chance.
Mandela provided the aura, the moral authority. Ramaphosa, then secretary general of the anti-apartheid alliance, the African National Congress, was the business end. Big, round-faced, grinning through a peppercorn beard, a charming manipulator in multiple languages, he was adept at both creating tension and defusing it, at threatening to send his constituents on a campaign of "rolling mass action" and then easing the pin back into the grenade. Janet Love, a member of Ramaphosa's negotiating team who now runs a human rights law center in Johannesburg, reminded me recently how he resolved the conundrum that arises when you have a constellation of 19 parties and alliances in which some matter more than others - namely: How do you know when something should be regarded as decided? Ramaphosa came up with the concept of "sufficient consensus." It sounds absurdly vague, but it was a polite way of saying that when the white National Party and the A.N.C. came to terms, everyone else, as Ramaphosa explained later to a reporter, "can get stuffed."
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Stranded on the Roof of the World
Michael Finkel • National Geographic
Afghanistan's Kyrgyz nomads survive in one of Earth's most remote places, where the currency is sheep, the dream is a road, and many will go an entire lifetime without ever seeing a tree.
The khan dreams of a car. Never mind that there isn't a road. His father, the previous khan, spent his life lobbying for a road. The new khan does the same. A road, he argues, would permit doctors, and their medicines, to easily reach them. Then maybe all the dying would stop. Teachers too could get to them. Also traders. There could be vegetables. And then his people-the Kyrgyz nomads of remote Afghanistan-might have a legitimate chance to thrive. A road is the khan's work. A car is his dream.
The Egyptian Revolution Through Mubarak's Eyes
David Kenner • Foreign Policy
Two years after the Jan. 25 protests, members of the former president's inner circle shed insight on the fall of a regime.
As the revolution gained momentum, Aboul Gheit describes a regime paralyzed by infighting. On Jan. 31, he attended the swearing-in of the new prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, a career military man brought in to restore order. Mubarak, he says, was bored and quiet: "He pretended to be very busy reading some papers."
Other players, however, were already maneuvering to protect their interests. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, then defense minister and the future head of the military junta that would replace Mubarak, informed Aboul Gheit at the ceremony that the military would not sacrifice its reputation to preserve Mubarak's rule. "Some told me that people are talking about using the army to control the situation by force," Tantawi said sternly, according to Aboul Gheit. "And I said from my side the army doesn't strike people at all, or else it will lose its legitimacy."
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