Cyril Ramaphosa Is No Solution To Our Problems

Staff Writer | The Republic Mail

Neither Ramaphosa nor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma can rescue South Africa out of the multi-faceted rot. Both are, to start with, inherently part of the multi-faceted rot, from which neither would extricate the party; writes Molifi Tshabalala. 

Once more, the ANC NEC has made a commendable decision not to recall Jacob Zuma as state president a month before its national policy conference, despite a groundswell of the call to the contrary. The call is both impolitic and factional, especially coming from within the party itself and its tripartite allies, COSATU and the SACP.

It goes without saying that, by their dual membership, coupled with irresponsible public statements and actions, both COSATU members and SACP members are party to intra-ANC’s degenerative factionalism. For example, a decision by COSATU to bar Zuma from addressing its events and invite his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, to address them amounts to meddling with intra-ANC’s factionalism. To stay clear of ANC factionalism, COSATU ought to have also barred Ramaphosa, who is vying for ANC president, from address its events or invited ANC secretary-general to address them.

By throwing their weight behind Ramaphosa for ANC president and that of the country, of course, under the pretext of ‘undocumented’ old traditional practice that deputy presidents succeeds the president, COSATU and the SACP make the same mistake they made with Zuma. In the book, Eight Days in September, Frank Chikane says they “believed that the removal of Mbeki as president of the ANC meant that there would be changes in the ANC’s policies, because they saw Mbeki as the major barrier to the advancement of the policies they espoused.” Nearly ten years later, nothing has changed from an ideological viewpoint. The ANC remains the alliance’s strategic centre and continues to pursue neo-liberal policies.

The same would happen under Ramaphosa, who is a coldblooded capitalist, as evidenced by his role in the Marikana massacre, if he becomes the next president. Along the same line of thoughts with Chikane, Business Leadership South Africa’s Michael Spicer wrote, in an article that appeared in Business Day, “It was Cyril Ramaphosa, backed by Tokyo Sexwale who led the charge at the meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee, which decided to defenestrate Mbeki in September last year.”

He went on to explain that the duo, along with its fellow politician-turned-businessman, Mathew Phosa, “remain within the ANC structure to counter the desire of the SACP/Cosatu for a strong leftwards shift in policy.” If Spicer’s version is anything to go by, COSATU and the SACP are once more betraying the proletariat by throwing their weight behind Ramaphosa for president.   

Technically, the ANC has split in a run-up to its 54th national conference, albeit Ramaphosa claimed to the contrary in his delivery of Moses Kotoane Memorial Lecture a few weeks ago. He said the ANC would not split post the conference.

Nevertheless, Ramaphosa, whose presidential campaign has thus far centred on a judicial commission of inquiry into the alleged state capture, makes a mistake that the ANC would solve its problems by merely recycling failed leaders, including himself, of course. It would take more than a change of leadership to save the ever more sinking ship.

The state capture is just a microcosm of multi-faceted rot in which the ANC finds itself. In the book, The Fall of the ANC, Prince Mashele and Mzukisi Qobo ascribe the ANC’s fall to its lack of foundational plan to govern, rampant corruption, and internecine factionalism.

In 1994, the ANC ascended to power with a consultative document, the RDP, which, wrote Nelson Mandela in its preface, entailed “the end of one process and the beginning of another.” The first process, he added, entailed “months of consultation within the ANC, its Alliance partners and other mass organisations in the wider society” while the second one entailed consultation within the business community. The consultative process ended in 1996 when the ANC-led government of national unity adopted GEAR, which SACP secretary-general Blade Nzimande and his fellow pseudo-leftists ridicule as “The 1996 Class Project”.

This debunks conventional wisdom that the ANC disbanded the RDP when it adopted GEAR. Although the economy grew by a maximum of five per cent under GEAR, a highest growth ever in a post-colonial South Africa, it failed to address the triple challenge: inequality, poverty, and unemployment.

The failure, however, did not necessarily lie with GEAR, ASGISA, or any of the policies the ANC-led government has implemented to date, but an economic structure. Even if the economy were to grow by eight per cent, as the DA suggests in its 2014 election manifesto, or by 100 per cent, it would not address the triple challenge without its fundamental transformation to bring the poor black majority into the mainstream economy as both owners and controllers of the Minerals-Energy Complex.

Corruption is not a new phenomenon that festered itself within the ANC’s organism upon its accession to power. In the book, External Mission, Stephen Ellis unearths a seed of corruption within its days in exile, albeit it might have germinated long before its banning in the early 1960s. He says car and drug smugglings were in particular rife.

Nor is factionalism a new phenomenon within the ANC’s organism. The difference, though, is a phase of it, namely degenerative factionalism.

In this phase, competing factional interests partition a party to a point of decisional stalemates. A quintessence in this regard is a motion of no confidence in Zuma that reached a second decisional stalemate.

Rampant corruption and internecine factionalism are part of the multi-faceted rot, at the heart of which is neopatrimonialism, which is intertwined with the state capture, as pointed out by a group of academics in the report, Betray of the Promise. Broadly defined as a personalistic type of rule centred on “one-man,” neopatrimonialism sets in during a transitional period and democratisation. Similarly, the state capture is a form of corruption that also set in during a transitional period.

In South Africa, neopatrimonialism set in under Mandela, gained momentum under Mbeki, and went a full circle under Zuma. In particular, presidentialism, which morphs itself out with a cult of personality, started under Mandela and clientelism under Mbeki following an ANC’s 50th conference resolution that gave him unilateralism to appoint ministers, deputy ministers, and premiers, albeit he consulted the party’s top-five national office-bearers.

In all fairness to Zuma, presidentialism and clientelism, as well as a third subtle form of neopatrimonialism, state resources, were in practice under his post-predecessors, but to a lesser extent. By doubling a size of cabinet, Zuma widened a pool of clientelistic network to consolidate his factional power, as most of his clients are part of the NEC. A R246 million security upgrade at his Nkandla homestead, therefore, served as microcosm of neopatrimonialism intertwined with the state capture.

Despite ascending to power with the consultative document and the multi-faceted rot deteriorating, the ANC grew in every general election until 2009 because it had a crop of requisite leaders that rose above these challenges.

The modern-day ANC has no crop of generational leaders to pull it and the country out of the multi-faceted rot. In the book, Leadership, Management and the Five Essentials of Success, Rick Joyner says, “There are basically two kinds of leaders: those who sacrifice the people for themselves, and those who sacrifice themselves for the people.” The incumbent crop of ANC leaders has sacrificed the people for itself.

Every generation has a crop of leaders that charts a course of its struggle. In 1944, Anton Lembede, Ashby Mda, Mandela, and other ANCYL founders charted a course of their generational struggle. This group of African nationalists, led by Lembede and Mda, devised the Programme of Action, which transformed the ANC from conservatism to radicalism in its scrimmage for freedom.

The Programme of Action, however, did not have support of ANC president AB Xuma. Hence, the league went to momentous 1949 national conference in Bloemfontein, where Xuma stood for re-election as president, without a candidate in mind. At an eleventh-hour, it turned to James Moroka, who supported the Programme of Action.

Led by Moroka, a new apex body comprised seven leaguers with Walter Sisulu elected as secretary-general. This group of leaders waged the first phase of revolution, a black majority rule.

In Julius Malema, the ANC had a leader who charted a course of his generational struggle, black economic freedom, but it expelled him for speaking the gospel truth that since Mbeki’s infamous recall in September 2008, there is a leadership vacuum in Africa.

Neither Ramaphosa nor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is a generational leader that the ANC needs to pull it and the country out of the multi-faceted rot. Both are, to start with, inherently part of the multi-faceted rot, from which neither would extricate the party.

Post Malema, the ANCYL, which is the future of the ANC, is ideologically defunct under Collen Maine. Along with the ANCWL, the league is potent for factional battles. Maine is a far cry from a stellar of leaders the league has had since its formation. He is an alien seed.

The legendary phrase, “The fish rots from the head,” does not apply to Zuma. In his case, the fish rot from a branch level to the NEC. Despite a cloud of 783 corruption charges hanging over his head, delegates elected Zuma as president, not once, but twice. Adding insult to injury, the NEC threw its weight behind him, from one scandal to another.

Zuma is not necessarily a problem, but part of the multi-faceted rot. Even if he were to resign, the ANC recall him, or the pro-Ramaphosa faction connive with the opposition parties in Parliament to remove him as president, the multi-faceted rot would remain intact, if not exacerbate, a point that Professor Steven Friedman has been at pains to make in vain . The biggest mistake the ANC would do is to remove Zuma as president in the run-up to its 54th national conference.

The ANC has it within itself to self-correct, but not with the incumbent crop of NEC members, most of whom think close to their pockets, what ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini calls “smallernyana skeletons”.

NEC members should heed Jackson Mthembu’s call to resign and not stand for re-election at the party’s 54th national conference. In fact, the ANC should rather go for a corrective conference and appoint neutral person such as former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela (not necessarily her, though), who commands a high moral ground on corruption and respect within the party, tripartite allies, and the populace at large to unify the party. This, however, would serve as the point of departure for self-correction. Much would need to be done.

Molifi Tshabalala is an independent political analyst.