Is Ramaphosa’s uncritical faith in public relations his undoing?

Stuart Ewen reminds us “the history of PR is… a history of a battle for what is the reality and how people will see and understand reality.” I thought of this as I attempt making sense of the 6th Administration,  its leader and his belief in public relations, in his perpetual battle of what defines reality and how people will and understand reality. Unfortunately, South Africa’s 4th ballot-elected president in democracy lives in another reality, that often shows him ambivalent in organizational grasp, a nation in critical challenges of poverty, unemployment, and economic inequality.

A month ago, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, in leafy Pretoria, took the oath to lead SA. If anything defines Ramaphosa from his days of a cash-flush CR17 campaign, it is his belief in the power of public relations that markets him as special. Those who made up part of this campaign are known for their ease of drawing romantic parallels between Mandela and Ramaphosa. They pummelled us with how redemptive this moment was. Ramaphosa in upbeat mode clearly swayed by those who sing his praises told all of how he will appoint a clean cabinet, fight state capture and corruption as the reincarnation of an angel sent from heaven, despite the fact that he was there all the time. The narrative as led by the public relations machinery of the CR17 campaign is preoccupied to portray Ramaphosa as a unique economic gift to a struggling South Africa.

The outcomes of the 6th national elections extended a victory of 57% to the ANC. This outcome also did not escape the erroneous intention to pit Ramaphosa as more popular than his party in which improvement to a 2016 Municipal Elections outcome is used as the base.  Central to the deception is a stubborn refusal to compare all five previous national ballot outcomes to the most recent. It, unfortunately, will have to accept that the ANC’s victory under Ramaphosa is the weakest ever. Instead, the elections victory became the unnecessary subject of a spat when those hell-bent, either for personal and group interest, opted to attribute the ANC’s victory as directly because of its president. The spin-doctors found the engaging of a 5 percentage dropping as less important since singing Ramaphosa’s praise was always the focus. Ramaphosa praise-singing, jet -fuel of the campaign weighed more than the health of the organization.

Beyond the 2019 elections outcome, the next key thing to get the 6th administration functional was to appoint his cabinet. Ramaphosa ran into unforeseen headwinds when his plan to offload David Mabuza, awoke to see how little power he really has. is first stumbling block was being forced to wait before he could appoint his cabinet. Right here two things that would prove that Ramaphosa was not in control. While members of parliament were sworn in, ANC Deputy President David Mabuza requested opportunity and time to first clear his name as part of 22 red-flagged by the ANC Integrity Commission. Mabuza would insist that the Integrity Commission engage him on this matter to establish the base of their discomfort with him.

The integrity commission would now be forced to have urgent hearings, we know how that process panned out when the Commission was shown as a factional grouping hellbent on serving the interest of some against others. This action on the part of Mabuza was calculated because he would now force a delay on the part of Ramaphosa’s much-awaited cabinet. Meaning Ramaphosa would commit political suicide had he dared to go ahead and announced a cabinet in the omission of Mabuza. Right here the lack of actual power of Ramaphosa was laid bare. Mabuza’s actions exposed the lack of integrity on the part of force the integrity commission rendering it another ANC entity that could not escape the endemic factional fibre that defines the organization.

Ramaphosa in his usual public relations campaign drive promised South Africans a clean and lean cabinet. A clean government would now be defined by those who would make it into the cabinet. Meaning if anyone remotely tainted by any form of the allegation made it into the cabinet, the clean government idea would be obliterated. In bravado, cabinet the constitutional prerogative of the president became the defining moment.

However, we all know constituting a cabinet remains a balancing act and trade-off between contesting interests understood in alliance partners, gender-parity priorities, generational-mix demands, factional and personal interests that often translates to pure rewarding of mot patronage. Unfortunately, ANC politics dictates SA presidents actively engaged in balancing acts of rewarding the multiplicity of contesting interests when it also seeks to buy the ongoing support of the same groups.

Ramaphosa’s eventual cabinet promised to be lean and clean. On the lean side, any reduction from the 5thadministration number of cabinet ministers would be read as a victory and a right to claim a leaner cabinet. Ramaphosa’s cabinet saw a reduction of 4/5 ministers while its deputy ministers became the playgrounds for patronage in claims of balancing the competing interests. His final cabinet of 28 ministers and 34 deputy ministers can hardly earn the claim of lean. Furthermore, included in his cabinet are many who were flagged by the ANC Integrity Commission, some with adverse findings of the public protector, some named in state capture hearings as beneficiaries from controversial and tainted Bosasa not excluding the president. A clean cabinet would, therefore, be an oxymoron. South – Africa would not have any clean cabinet but a cabinet that confirms the powerbases in the ANC alliance partners dynamics.

Come the time when the committee chairs for parliament was appointed, Ramaphosa and his crew appeared completely outmanoeuvred when some senior members and names against whom vociferous media-campaigns have been run made it into chairperson positions. While it really should never have been about any number of those appointed, the fact is committees are chaired by occupants against whom vicious media-led political campaigns were lodged crucified as tried in the courts of media.  We know that some wanted to protest against this, the contradiction here was the same who wanted to express their dissatisfaction are not exempted from allegations at least as carried by the media.  In all of this, we knew that Ramaphosa was also served a Section 79 inquiry as constitutionally provided for.

On Thursday 20 June, Ramaphosa delivered his 3rd SONA. SONA’s an annual moment in the life of the nation when the president convenes both houses of parliament to share the state of the nation address. SONA delineates a form of reporting. In fact, it is explained in the following sense on the State’s website: “Why is the State of the Nation Address important?

In the address, the President highlights the achievements and challenges experienced over the past year and presents the Executive’s program for the year ahead. The address covers political, economic and social matters, and considers the general state of South Africa. It reflects on South Africa’s domestic affairs as well as its relations in Africa and abroad. The State of the Nation Address is an important means of the Executive accounting to Parliament and the South African public for what government has delivered over the past year, and to involve the public in the political agenda of the coming year. The State of the Nation Address is also about celebrating our nation and nation-building.”

SONA’s are also long and boring speeches in which a number of those in attendance are caught in forty winks dreamland. Ramaphosa’s SONA could have been accepted as normal, but it, unfortunately, was declared dead in the water, killed by the unnecessary expectations the Ramaphosa public relations team subjected it to when it deceived the SA populace to think Ramaphosa will produce something spectacular, extraordinary  so fundamentally different and marking a break in SONA address histories.

Again Ramaphosa disappointed the South African masses because he erroneously  accepted his own public relations t sophism of him being a messiah, when he gave a lacklustre, rather opaque ad empty of coherent plan for the economy or job creation, stab in the air presentation; He dovetailed this with a dream of a 4th  industrial revolution technology-based new city inspired by among others China, that dreams about. We all should accept there is nothing wrong with dreaming some even protested true leaders are dreamers. The challenge was on the back of the crafted public relations-rhetoric of a messiah identity Ramaphosa’s SONA petered out into a pie- in the sky dream. It was quickly written off as a pathetic attempt to conflating the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jnr’s, historic I have a dream speech, and a crossover of the 44th USA president Barack Obamas yes, we can – themes. His SONA died at the altar of his own public relations campaign.

By Sunday all knew that Ramaphosa’s SONA failed on many fronts when his usual praise singers-combo of Ranjeni Munusamy and Qaanitha Hunter in the Sunday Times led with “Cyril’s R400m timebomb”, “Smart City a castle in the sky” and “Cyril’s ‘jobs for friends’ face resistance”. Sunday Times Clearly Ramaphosa was facing the coldest week as president of SA.

SONA response time would unveil a brutal and cold confirmation that Ramaphosa is nothing but a proverbial scarecrow. He would have to endure eight hours of rebuke, reprimand, and lecturing. None more calculated and scathing than EFF leader Julius Malema who went for the jugular, when dared to go where few have ventured. Nothing would be more piercing and cutting to the marrow than the words, “What did Mandela see in you that we can’t see.”

Malema read Cyril the riot act, reminding him of the ANC resolutions that made him president which he increasingly unpalatable.  Anybody who knows how Ramaphosa sees himself as a second Mandela knew this was cutting to the heart. Malema would end off with a physical gesture of invoking fear on Ramaphosa as he encouraged him to wake up from his dreams. No amount of public relations or sweeping by any ANC leader could change the devastation the collective Opposition inflicted. Ramaphosa looked wasted. The President of the ANC and South Africa appears a man isolated having lost at an organizational level and has counted on a constituency outside that eerily seem to have less patience with him. He is a man yet to respond to the public protector to explain what appears to a bigger than R500k Bosasa donation of misrepresentations.

In the end, Ramaphosa’s undoing may be attributed to his unswerving faith in the make-belief pseudo-science of public relations that can fix everything, a practice that portrays him as a USA based president not answerable to his political party but answerable to a public-in-publics deliberately confused to be the SA masses, the same who continue deceiving him as to his popularity at the expense of his ANC party. Ramaphosa is thus suspended between the true reality of South Africans, in particular, the poor and the reality his make-belief apparatus insist us see.

Clyde N. Ramalaine

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Let Zuma tell his story like all others!

Since the start of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on August 20, 2018, it solicited people to come forward to share their stories as it relates to its investigation of how and if the state was captured.

Given the media-led campaign aimed at conditioning South Africa on the prevalence of state capture, a much-awaited moment of former President Jacob Zuma’s attendance in showing up before the State of Capture Commission was always anticipated.

With a month shy of celebrating its one-year anniversary, there is little doubt that Zuma’s presence at the Commission marks the apex of witnesses before the commission. It is so because it can be argued that he is for some the kingpin since he is the face of the executive that stands accused of having enabled state capture. The Commission while signed off by him, was never his initiative and he is placed at the centre of an allegation of a state that is captured as the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s October 2016 “The State of Capture” report leads. Zuma thus in an orchestrated sense becomes the epicentre for a claim of state capture, the aorta at least for those who believe it existed. For some, he is finally in the dog-box, called to account for his role in State Capture fraud and corruption activities.

The State of Capture Commission, hitherto, has entertained a litany of accounts. Versions that detail personal stories made up of facts, innuendos, allegations, speculations and also utter fabrications. Some of these were already refuted before this very Commission. I have elsewhere asserted the Zondo commission could easily be defined as a ”Latent Labour Dispute Commission” since many who appeared detailed job or position loss allegedly at the hand of a president. Nevertheless, these are their respective stories and we warrant hearing them all.

Sharing one’s story is not a straight line, it includes one’s vantage point, one’s interpretation necessarily understood in subjectivity. It comes coloured with our shades. These stories are not exempted from emotion and even pain, we saw this with those who appeared before the Commission, Vytjie Mentor, Mcebisi Jonas, Themba Maseko, Pravin Gordhan, Barbara Hogan, Pumla Williams, Agrizzi among others. These, all shared their versions of how they either lost a job, were ill-treated or had people plotting against them.

On Monday, July 15, the Commission began hearing Jacob Zuma’s account it would be the first of five days set aside to hear his version. Unlike those who came before the commission who came to tell their stories, Zuma is here not in the equal sense of how other ministers appeared. He appears really as accused number one, at least in the eyes of those who believe the case of state capture was long made. All those who hitherto have appeared before the  Zondo Commission were led by the Commission’s evidence leaders to prepare for the engaging. That leading takes the method and form of prepared statements predicated on their compiled statements as aided by the Commission. Meaning the Commission invested resources (time and effort) to assist those who appeared before it to prepare their statements.

All those who appeared in apparent aid to the case fo state capture had prepared statements. Yet, it appears that privilege or right was not extended to President Zuma. Is it possible that the Commission does not see Zuma as one to assist them instead he is accused whom they can to place at the proverbial crime scene? The question that may arise is what then was the Commission’s motive when it in process sense treated Zuma differently by not obtaining his statement?

Zuma’s introduction details almost 30 years. He linked the proverbial dots of plans to have him removed, even attempts on his life as plotted by a group of people whom he claims work in cahoots with the intelligence structures of two external agencies. He shows this as a consistent aim which ultimately harvested his removal and yet continues.  He anchors this in a history of his role as intelligence head of the ANC, where information was made available to him.

As part of his narrative, he informed the Commission that Ngoako Ramatlhlodi who was a witness at the Commission and accused him of having auctioned off SA was recruited by the apartheid state intelligence while he was a student in Lesotho. Later he also included Siphiwe Nyanda as compromised. These revelations sent the social media discourses into an overdrive. While still delivering his introduction, many commented that this was a deliberate deflection. It appears they wanted him to come and just confirm what they already believe of him in guilty conviction.

Their intolerance to afford him to tell his story is the opposite of how they responded to others who also appeared. Their intolerance confirms their claim to know his story better than him. He is not afforded the same confidence all others who appeared before the commission were extended. There is this dialectic tension of demanding him to speak at the Commission but only from a directed script that attests concession to guilt, anything else is seen as a deflection. In truth they want him to relate the stories they already have heard. Naturally, the commission straddles political and legal spheres and he as a clever politician knows how to engage in that political space.

If Zuma must speak can those who want to hear him, let him speak and can we desist demanding him telling us what we want to hear. After all, it is his story. The week ahead promises more volatile moments however let us hear Zuma’s story.

 

Part 2:  Zuma the “uneducated“ joins  the people’s campaign, becomes default face of RET and Land Redress!

-AN ELITIST ANC LEADERSHIP FINDS A PRO-POOR AGENDA A GRAVE DISCOMFORT-

By   Clyde Ramalaine and Carl Niehaus  

 Will the ANC 2019 January 8th Statement and election manifesto bring clarity, or simply confirm this dialectical tension?

The advent of the Jacob G. Zuma ANC leadership at Polokwane marked the unsuspecting break with the conventional ANC identity of formally “educated”  leadership. It also in a sense became the second time the ANC was forced to lead and identify more unequivocally with a pro-Poor agenda. We say this not here in a narrow sense of representing the poor, we say it at the essential level sense because the poor would increasingly begin to dictate the agenda of the ANC, with the threat of disturbing the equilibrium of elitist DNA.

We have since Polokwane heard countless ANC leaders, in public and private spaces, lament their claims of a different ANC. Some poignantly said they want ‘their’ ANC back in what can be understood as. the more elitist, and less pro-poor driven ANC, that was temporarily lost.  Those who desired its ‘return’ articulated their discomfort of not being able to fit in or be led by a pro-poor agenda.  (A very difficult, if not impossible thing to do, if you have managed, with the privileged preferential treatment bestowed on a few selected elite black business people – under the watchful eye of the White Monopoly Capital captains of industry – to become multi-millionaires and billionaires. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that it is indeed a contradiction in terminus to purport to be a leader of the poor masses from that position of created privileged advantage!). They chose to frame it in claims of their discomfort with corruption which they labelled a Zuma leadership with.  What they as gross beneficiaries of a negotiated settlement at personal level really found uncomfortable was the ANC increasingly evidencing a pro-poor stance which if left unattended poses challenges for the perpetual existence of the elites.

This era would see the emergence of the Jacob Zuma leadership, who by-default represented a break from the elitism up to then entrenched in the ANC, where formal education understood in claims of intellectualism stood central as a pre-requisite, and often the dominant deciding factor, for a claim to elected leadership.

Zuma, while unconventional for his humble origins and sparse formal education, is an ANC member for close on three score and close confidante of OR Tambo; thus, he did not mark a total break with the elitist character of the ANC. In his first term, he was less aggressive to advocate for radical policy shifts that would benefit the poor. In fact, Zuma did very little to augment what his predecessor stood for in engaging the predominantly apartheid and colonial beneficiaries. It is only in his second term that he adopted a much more public, and no holds bar approach, to what is called a pro-black-poor (and especially pro-African poor) rhetoric.

We may all argue if his second term awakening to lead the ANC as non-elitist was premised on sincere conviction, or a basic political move no different to what Robert Mugabe, also an elitist, across the Limpopo River, did for the better part of his almost forty-year reign of Zanu-PF, and Zimbabwe. We will remember Mugabe only became radical on land reform the last ten years of his term in office, and the jury remains out as to the authenticity of his choices, whether it was out of conviction or for the sake of personal political survival.

Perhaps Zuma’s calculated reading of the mood of the masses, who increasingly felt betrayed by the negotiated settlement between the binaries of white and black elites, that resulted in deformed freedom immanent in political but not economic freedom, thrust him as the face of the people’s campaign for economic freedom. He, with his antithetical identity as not your typical elitist ANC president, already frowned upon by those who believe in  ‘education’ as the evidence of intellect led ANC, would now openly begin to campaign on white and black binaries of economic imbalance, and call out the White Monopoly Capitalists (WMC), for their continued control of the South African economy, and continuing exploitation of the black poor, and economically disempowered, masses.

This while the ANC elites were handsomely rewarded from the start to share in the unjust economy, and became the buffer-zone for white privilege. As a consequence, it turned out to be that when the masses challenged the white apartheid-engineered and maintained shaped ongoing control of the economy, they ended up being confronted and opposed by a political leadership it elected who increasingly acted as the insurance policy in protection of white privilege. This consciousness of this elitist and privileged leadership was shaped by their new found material and moneyed comfort, rather than any liberation driven revolutionary consciousness. Proof that Karl Marx was correct when he stated that one’s class consciousness is ultimately determined by the property you own, and your material well-being, or lack thereof.

By the way, this was not an accidental situation, but a meticulously orchestrated and well-executed plan of the apartheid regime negotiators.  We warrant extending them credit for having outfoxed their counterparts at the unequal table of a negotiated settlement.

Zuma for his adopted stance on WMC, therefore, could not go to the same white elites whom Mandela, Mbeki and all others were comfortable with, to support his agenda for economic freedom. He thus became the enemy of white privilege to the extent that they actually marched against him, less for what they confused the masses in claims of corruption or an emptiness of morality, but more so because he was leading the ANC into another direction that militated against the negotiated beneficial settlement of, and for, the elites which threatened  a revolution in which the biggest casualties would be the very elites on both sides of the proverbial railway line.

Both white as well as black elitist groups feared the personal impact it would have on their economic well-being and opted to resist to such an extent that high-heeled pseudo-NGO’s, like SAVE–SA, emerged as created and heavily sponsored specifically for the purpose to get rid of Zuma.  The struggling to be relevant South African Council of Churches (SACC) was enlisted to re-echo this message until Anglican Bishop Makgoba could abuse the most significant day of Christian Faith celebration to prognosticate his personal political preferences of Zuma removal in an instruction to the Ramaphosa leadership. This SAVE-SA agenda would also be joined by various ‘foundations’, that represent white privilege interest as fulcrum realities. Not missing out on this was the SACP and COSATU.

Jacob Zuma thus in a sense accidentally became the face of RET and the by-default face of RET the same some till this moment regard him. It also appears Zuma in his post-presidential life continues to seek to define this as his real legacy and reading the trajectory of the current ANC leadership knows that there is a still a vacuum. From the bedrock of that awareness he has decided to stay in touch and active in the daily politics and discourse with his more recent entrance of the Twitter social media platforms.

For the record, our support of Jacob Zuma was predicated on the axis of four cornerstones. Firstly we were and remain convinced he was disrespected by the elitist essentially for his lack of formal education, the same who until Zuma‘s emergence had never treated any ANC president with such disdain for his lack of education. Secondly, it remains our conviction that Zuma was served a grave injustice with an NPA bungling and political meddling in apparent charges against him. Thirdly his calculated reading of the masses in demand of a RET and land redress and a willingness to associate with it. Lastly throughout our commitment to a liberation struggle which we also in democracy voted for we have always believed the ANC as the vehicle for true change, not an uncommon hope if the measurement of disillusionment of many with the ANC is used as a barometer.

We inadvertently were labelled Zuma people, in defence of corruption looting and therefore needed to be avoided at all costs. Where necessary our economic livelihood needs to be crippled to teach us lessons for associating with Zuma. To prove that we supported Zuma without any intent of personal benefit, we can categorically state that we never benefitted from even him something we both told him in jest when we had independent meetings with him.  Some in  ignorance consider us fools because we did not benefit from Zuma, yet they fail to appreciate we were never surrendered to Zuma the person but identified with his association of the pro-poor people’s agenda for RET and Land redress, in that sense he is the ANC president that ventured the closest to a pro-poor agenda hence his popularity with the masses to this day. In a sense, he was SA‘s first domestic president and will continue to be remembered as the father of RET,  Land redress and free tertiary education.  A year after his forced resignation he remains popular because the masses do not appear to trust his successor to drive the same agenda.

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine  He is a writer and political commentator whose work has appeared in most major SA newspapers. including The Thinker Pan African Journal among others. He is the Founder-Chairperson of TMoSA Foundation – The Thinking Masses of SA. Ramalaine in 2017 consciously supported the NDZ campaign with his incisive public commentaries and writings

Carl Niehaus was actively involved in the NDZ17 Campaign. Niehaus is an ANC veteran with40 years of uninterrupted ANC membership, and a former member of the NEC of the ANC, ANC MP, He also served as the SA Ambassador to The Netherlands. He is currently a member of the NEC of MKMVA, and the National Spokesperson of MKMVA. Carl contributed to this article in his personal capacity.

 

 

 

AN ELITIST ANC LEADERSHIP FINDS A PRO-POOR AGENDA A GRAVE DISCOMFORT!

Will the ANC 2019 January 8th Statement and election manifesto bring clarity, or simply confirm this dialectical tension?

 By Clyde Ramalaine and Carl Niehaus

On the eve of the ANC’s annual January Statement in a year of the national ballot, to be delivered on January 12th, it becomes imperative to look at and clear up some shibboleths, anomalies and misconceptions that keep our public discourse hostage. To this extent we have decided to write a series of articles to assist discussions on what is emerging as an ANC leadership of a people’s campaign for radical economic transformation and land redress that presents waves of discomfort within the identity of the ANC as historically an elitist organization if its ontology is considered the yardstick.

The parts that make up the musing are respectively: Part 1: The ANC attests a history of elitismPart 2Jacob Zuma the ‘uneducated’ identifies with the people’s campaign and becomes the by-default face of RETPart 3: Why we supported an elitist Nkosazana Dlamini-Zumas campaignPart 4:Urban Foundation groomed Ramaphosa the test of a People’s Campaign mandate versus an ANC elitist agenda

Part 1The ANC attests a history of elitism

It is exactly a year since the 54th National Conference where the leadership that emerged was mandated to carry out a set of pro-Radical Economic Transformation (RET) Resolutions. that for many outside the ANC, and even some in the ANC, was never palatable for the far-reaching and fundamental revolutionary change that it envisaged. In order to appreciate this notion of discomfort from within the ANC on its own adopted Resolutions, we warrant first to appreciate who the ANC is from inception. A cursory look at its history will prove that the ANC from the start was an organisation led by elites. It was not a mass mobilisation movement, led by the groundswell support of the poor, landless and the uneducated. It was not a worker’s formation either.

Few historians will dispute that the ANC in its genesis evidences a leadership that unequivocally assimilated as African elites, who no longer wanted to be sidelined and subjugated by white colonial masters, but who were not averse to making deals with the colonial powers in order to achieve their objectives. Thus, some of the most important activities of the early leadership of the ANC was to dispatch delegations to petition the British monarch and parliament for fairer treatment and recognition.

Its later association, with the Worker’s Cause at several historical intersections, left it dishevelled, out of kilt and struggling to maintain its elitist identity. This was evident in the elitist ANC leadership’s initial discomfort with communism. It can be argued that the eventual rapprochement between the traditional elitist, and initially pro-capitalist ANC leadership, was based on the fact that the Soviet Union and other East-Bloc communist countries were more prepared to recognize the ANC leadership and treat them on an equal footing than the elitist and racist insults, and disdainful disregard, that they had to endure from the British, and other European colonial powers.

The material support that the communists were also prepared to provide the ANC, which was cash-strapped and had hardly any resources, also played a huge role in forging a closer relationship.

Arguably this material support channelled through the South African Communist Party was initially the main foundation for the growing relationship, rather than ideological affinity. Initially the elitist, and traditional leadership of the ANC felt a far closer cultural and ideological affinity with the Western European colonial powers, which in no small measure also influenced western orientated colonial missionary education. But the arrogant disdain with which they were none-the-less treated the Western Europeans, and the need for material resources to keep the ANC afloat, drove them to the communists East-Bloc.

It was more a case of being driven into the arms of the communists by the arrogance and racism of the Western European colonial powers than feeling a natural affinity with the more equalitarian worldview of communism, and of a working class led society.

The modern identity of the ANC attests ambivalent because it is a movement that purports to represent the masses, but for almost all of its history it was and continues to be, led by a black traditional, intellectual and business leadership elite. That identity was upheld for the better part of its 107 years. Even in the darkest days of apartheid, also during the years of banishment and exile, the ANC represented that paradigm.

Interestingly enough this was not changed by the pro-African radicalism of the ANC Youth League when it was formed under the leadership of the Anton Lembede, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu among others. In fact, these pro-Africanist young radical leaders were initially even more anti-communist than their older counterparts in the Mother body and NEC of the ANC. They launched harsh verbal, and even physical, attacks on the communists. Nelson Mandela acknowledged that he once attacked Dr. Yusuf Dadoo of the SACP with a chair in an attempt to literally to beat him off the stage, during a communist party meeting in the Krugersdorp City Hall.

 

Evidently, although more radical in the acknowledgement of their Pan-African identity the young lions of the ANC Youth League were no less elitist in their overall political approach. They also saw themselves as an elitist vanguard, empowered by their mainly western missionary education, with the right to lead.

 

It was only when Umkhonto we Sizwe was finally formed on the 16th of December 1961, and it was only through the South African Communist Party and their links with the Soviet Union, and other East-Bloc communist countries that guns and other weapons and military training could become available, that Mandela’s attitude to the South African communists and communism in general softened.

 

However, it can be argued that it was more a utilitarian association of need rather than a deep ideological commitment. This was confirmed by OR Tambo who often narrated that the ANC’s association with communism and the especially the Soviet Union was necessitated by the fact that the West was not prepared to support the anti-apartheid struggle of the ANC in general, and specifically not the armed struggle. The only source of support for years came from the USSR, and other East-Bloc communist countries, later further supplemented by support from Cuba.

 

For the first time in its history, in the 1980’s the ANC became forced to associate itself with the internal groundswell of the masses that were mobilised not as ANC per se. This was personified by the student revolt of 1976 and beyond, and the emergence of a strong civics-based country-wide resistance movement against apartheid. Initially the ANC did not lead this period, but eventually, it agreed to lead because it was assisted by the internal activities of people that were not formal ANC members, but who often identified with thosemore progressive pro-people liberation pronouncements of the ANC, such as contained in the Freedom Charter.

 

Many of the leadership collective elite in the ANC was, however, never comfortable with leaders like Winnie Mandela, Harry Gwala, Allan Boesak and even Chris Hani, whom they considered populists.

 

Let us not forget for an elongated period populism, inside the ANC had a negative connotation, and was considered the antithesis of intellectualism and pragmatism. While in exile ANC leadership battled to fully identify with internal leaders who were very popular, and plausibly a threat in their own rights for the prevailing leadership of the ANC.

 

In order to appreciate the elitist character of the ANC’s leadership throughout time, we must look back and ask where were ANC leaders were trained for their primary and basic education? It is on record that an early group of ANC leadership were educated at white mission schools like Lovedale, Adams College and Institutions like Fort Hare etc. Meaning the prism of their education was that of the coloniser and the missionary–colonizer. Thus, the education of the ANC’s leadership in its prism and epistemology was essentially borrowed from that umwelt, and it can never escape that reality for its undeniable influence on the panoply of their thought and struggle convictions. We may, therefore, accept that the elitism of the ANC is a borrowed one from the colonisers who intrinsically shaped the ANC leadership since 1912, up to at least 2007.

 

The ANC appears suspended between the mandate to lead a people’s campaign and its fundamental identity of elitist which wrestles for its future existence.

 

Did Ramaphosa know about the Bosasa ‘donation’ and consciously lied to the House not once but twice?

 

 

“Ah, ah, yeah (Lies, lies) ooh, baby (lies) Well, well. We took a vow to be ever true. I lived up to mine, tell me, did you? Someone saw you with your old lover. Hand in hand, I don’t understand. You said it ended so long ago. You had me believing while you were deceiving me with lies (lies). Wish I could have seen it in your eyes. (Lies) but I never did (no, I never did). Words made famous from the guitar-laced tune of South Africa’s famous jazz export Jonathan Butler.

A week is a long time in politics, we know it because on November 6, South Africa’s caretaker president Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa pressed by the DA to clarify his knowledge of a payment of R500000.00 paid to his businessman-son Andile Ramaphosa’s trust account by Bosasa, the questionable facilities management company stood proudly and told South Africa that he as ‘moral’ leader would take his son personally to jail if there is any corruption with the payment.

This statement was precipitated by the DA leader Mmusi Maimane informing the House that he has in possession an affidavit signed by the former Bosasa accountant of a payment of R500000.00 paid from the company to the Ramaphosa’s son (Andile). Bosasa, which now trades under the name, African Global Operations, is a company that receives billions of rand in contracts from the South African government.

Caretaker president Ramaphosa in reply to this question told the House that he had confronted his son on the payment and that Andile explained that the money was for advisory services provided to Bosasa. Ramaphosa senior went on to explain his son’s business interest with the following words, “He advises both local and international companies and this payment, I can show you Mr Maimane that I asked him at close range whether this was money that was obtained illegally, unlawfully and he said this was a service that was provided. To this end, he even showed me a contract he signed with Bosasa and the contract also deals with issues of integrity, issues of anti-corruption and all that.”

Ever the one seeking to be seen to act against corruption, a scripted trademark of his infamous CR17 campaign was framed around, Ramaphosa was eager to let us know that if there was any corruption in the arrangement, he would act.

Showing that he wears the big drolls, Ramaphosa talked tough with the following words: “If it turns out that there’s any illegality and corruption in the way that he has dealt with this matter, I will be the first, absolutely the first to make sure he becomes accountable even if it means that I’m the one that will take him to the police station,”  [sic]

On Friday 16 November, Ramaphosa in a written reply to the Speaker of Parliament shared that he “inadvertently provided incorrect information”. Clearly, this constitutes an undeniable backtracking on his earlier response delivered in parliament. Ramaphosa now would tell South Africa the received amount that was paid by Bosasa into his son’s account was really a donation for his CR17 Campaign to ANC high office.

What then to make of this 360 degrees turnabout of SA’s caretaker president on a subject of politics and money complex where beneficiary companies who earn billions from their relationships with political power exert power for their donations.

There are those who argue we must extend Ramaphosa honour for him rectifying himself through his latest version. These argue it shows his consistency of trying to be clean. Firstly, while this may be or not, the issue of Ramaphosa’s response in the first instance was not organically coming from as initiated, he was coerced in asked questions from the DA. Meaning the DA must get the credit for firstly, bringing the subject matter of this questionable payment to the House’s attention. Secondly, the DA’s threat and subsequent action to attain a right to access the details of the claimed contract Ramaphosa proudly shared, forced the second response. We may therefore not rush to extend praise to the Ramaphosa, it can be argued that he was forced to make both statements and can, therefore, never get any respect for taking the House in confidence on the subject matter.

Secondly, his latest turnabout on the saga, by itself does not take him out of any troubled waters. We now have two versions of one incident, two versions provided from the same mouth and we have to make sense of this in a space of media crafted “angels and demons’, where the toxic relations of capital’s influence on the political canvas is laid bare daily in VBS scandals, Municipalities looted by business, State Capture Commission, and politicians fingered for corruption. Can we simply take the president’s word in both instances, why should we not place the burden of truth on the president? May I also remind us in this very toxic space, Ramaphosa is paraded as an angel, the opposite of his predecessor.

Thirdly, Ramaphosa’s first statement thus can be reduced to the typical fancy footwork of politics in which he thought his charm would save him and stop the DA from seeking the details of a claimed contract. His so-called ‘tough talk’ was nothing but politics as guided by his ever-present public relations machinery.

In the fourth instance, beyond the first and second statements of Ramaphosa which presents diametrically opposite content lays the critical question: How much of the donation did Ramaphosa know upfront before his first oral response to Parliament? It becomes crucial to engage if Ramaphosa knew or not because his second statement affirms that Andile received this money as a donation not for Andile’s campaign but for the CR17 campaign. Meaning, Andile and his trust account were used as a conduit to receive R500,000.00 under the guise of a service-provider contractual relationship as advanced in his first response.

In the fifth instance, we must need again attempt to understand, the intention to have received the money for work performed in a trust account which holds its own ramifications that the relevant authorities may want to engage in an unfolding saga. What is now essential is to establish did Ramaphosa know before he made his first statement. His claim from his first response suggests he did not know. He equally in his second statement claims the money was deposited or received without his knowledge. Who exactly directed and or advised that the donation is made into the trust account?

It, therefore, becomes a matter of what is the common denominator of both statements, as you guessed in both first and second statement Ramaphosa denies knowledge. That for us can become the smoking gun. Because it attests motive for both statements without realisation. It can be surmised knowledge of the donation compromises Ramaphosa in every aspect.

With the benefit of his second statement which places him as the direct benefactor, we know it becomes an attempt to move Andile out of the picture and Ramaphosa daddying-up to say I can handle this. If we now take cognisance of his second response which delineates a CR17 campaign and not a contract, can we still assume that Ramaphosa did not know? It becomes increasingly challenging to extend the benefit of the doubt to Ramaphosa as absent in knowledge of the donation.

In the sixth instance, thus, on the other hand, merely acknowledging the money was for the CR17 campaign as the new truth, opens up a slew of questions among others, were these donations solicited? Who was directly responsible to have fiduciary control and powers as to where and how such received money was to be spent? How many other State-purse beneficiary companies made similar donations, and are the other accounts beyond Andile’s trust account that were also used for the CR17? Can we trace how the money left Andile’s trust account and who became the second level beneficiary?

Have we forgotten, how Bidvest a company Ramaphosa has known close ties with, reserved hotel rooms for ANC delegates attending 54thConference and was rumoured to buy the votes of delegates. Bosasa’s ‘donations’ and Bidvest’s generous gifts and that of others can be construed as nothing but to buy the favour of the incumbent. It goes without saying that at some stage Ramaphosa will have to repay them in kind and that in SA will come from the state coffers however wrapped. We know businesses do not give out money without an explicit intent of benefitting ultimately or later. What is the deal Ramaphosa has with his donors, that he would use his son’s Trust Account under the guise of service provider contract relations?

Let us equally dispense with the sophism of the donation was for the ANC Campaign. The ANC was not campaigning in 2017, it will campaign for 2019 national elections. It is deceiving to make the claim that it was an ANC campaign who benefitted. This was the CR17 Campaign who was in the race to become president of the ANC. Hiding behind an ANC flag is not acceptable, it must remain the Cyril Ramaphosa campaign for ANC high office. The ANC cannot be used to hide who was the benefactor of this donation.

We are compelled to ask, what was the motive of the donations on the part of Bosasa and others we still in the future will hear who equally made donations? We do not have to go far, Bosasa is infamously known for having bought politicians favour, we recently learnt of the vocal MP Vincent Smith loans and monies received from Bosasa.  We have heard how other politicians like Gwede Mantashe and Nomvula Mokonyane were also linked to Bosasa favours or deals, while these are not yet proven they fill our discourse. We also know that Watson’s controversial company is a gross benefactor of billions from the very state coffers now presided over by Ramaphosa and his team.  Among those who also benefitted from the corruption of Bosasa is Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla who received a bribe of R1million, the same has not yet denied but dubiously after a month returned to Bosasa as is claimed.

What then is the meaning for someone who framed his CR 17 campaign on morality narrowly understood in money corruption claims between the state and capital, why would Ramaphosa have been that naïve to assume these donations would not indicate the opposite of what he was seeking to sell South Africa? Or was this common for Ramaphosa throughout his political and business careers to receive donations regardless of how these may compromise and send wrong messages? Was this the businessman cutting the deals in receiving donations to propel him to the ANC high office by extension SA presidency? When were Bosasa plausibly and many others going to call on a return of the favour of their donations? Was Bosasa and others told ‘you have benefitted it’s time to pay back‘? We don’t know there are so many unanswered questions and the more we engage Ramaphosa in his two statements, the more we see a character emerging of someone who has questions to answer.

Lastly, the undeniable subject of familial relations between Ramaphosa and his son arguably the heir to his billions affords grounds to conclude Ramaphosa may have from the start been totally in the loop on the either, requested or offered and subsequently received money. He as the face and head of the CR 17 campaign, may even have directed the Trust as the recipient beneficiary account for this and possibly other donations.

Should we prove that Ramaphosa had prior knowledge of this ‘donation’ for his advancement into ANC high office, can we then argue Ramaphosa consciously lied since he knew upfront? What then are the implications for Ramaphosa if it can be established that he lied to the House and that he was responsible to direct all the funds of his campaign?

The State Capture Commission has seen many lies exposed, Nene Nhlanhla was made to fall on his sword for his lies. Malusi Gigaba after 14 years of being in the cabinet was proven to have lied under oath. Zweli Mkhize was exposed by the ANC Treasurer-General to have lied when he denied the ANC received donations from Vele Investments who owned the now sequestrated VBS bank. Vytjie Mentor’s multiple lies are laid bare in the middle of her testimony, was forced to correct lies in her published book, and subsequently, through her attorneys Webber Wentzel apologising for having lied about meeting Fana Hlongwane. Barbara Hogan and Vytjie Mentor have both lied about the role, designation of among others the ANC DSG, Jessie Duarte who only became DSG in 2012.

Now we have to contend with the ANC President, who is the current caretaker SA president, who may have knowingly deceived and lied to the House when he may have known from the start the truth of the Bosasa donation to his son’s trust account which was for his benefit. Ramaphosa remains suspended in mistrust, the face of ambivalence and not trusted by the poor to lead SA to an economic transformation that will benefit colonial and apartheid victims. With seven months to the elections, can Ramaphosa be trusted to lead the ANC to victory as a morally sound corrupt free individual, when his business deals – donations – which spares not even his own and however wrapped follows him like a wet diaper?

Did Manyi disrupt the rehearsed account of ‘state capture’ leaving Wiliams and the media in particular eNCA jaundiced?

 

 – Disruptions usually occur where order protests a presence –

Jeremy England in his postulated disruption theory as physics asserts, “life is the universe’s way to dissipate energy more efficiently, meaning that what we see as an order is really just nature’s way of spreading disorder more broadly.”  

England’s mind in this regard, therefore, leads that, we assume the energy we employ to create order as constructive or “putting things aright,” when actually we are setting the stage for more disorder. In other words, most people look at an ordered system as the natural way things should be. That’s what opens up opportunities for successful disruption.

I thought of this as I continue following the State Capture hearings that started on August 20. The State Capture as a Commission initiative as led by some is to set things in order, at least that is the claim of politicians and those who claim to know. It is also the claim of those who want to find against others where they absolved themselves into the media crafted ‘angels and demons’ frames of our discourse. Yet while, as is claimed things are being put right, the stage of more disorder is set. Who would have thought that the angel Nene around whom a campaign of Zuma removal was led, would fall in the disorder of putting things right?

We have been listening to a number of essential media crafted ‘angels’ sharing their accounts with the explicit intent of proving the existence of state capture as a crime through the funnels of their personal experiences as linked to an ecosystem of a job. Some painstakingly and without realising painted a picture of how their presence in a specific setting was a threat to the claimed looting hence they were fired from such job.

If one closes one’s eyes and listens deeper, one will be forgiven to assume the Commission increasingly purports a glorified labour dispute resolution entity that after the fact is used as a means to hear the aggrieved in a cabinet and senior official descriptions. In a drama filled week where Barbara Hogan shared essentially her 18-month tenure as minister of Public Enterprises, she spared few as she dragged the ANC’s deployment system, scorned enemies Jacob Zuma, Gwede Mantashe, Jessie Duarte, Jeff Radebe and Blade Nzimande among others from the ANC and the state before the commission for their degrees of complicity to the media-created crime of state capture.

We can comfortably surmise the Commission for some constitutes their last moment to settle scores that cannot be settled in any other forum. Hogan, among other things, relates how the late Ahmed Kathrada, her partner accompanied her and was sitting in the car while she was being fired inside by former President Zuma and Secretary General of the ANC Gwede Mantashe. The issue of Kathrada’s choice presence to accompany her is used as another means to evidence a heartless Zuma and Mantashe combo. Clearly a side-show of note, we are not sure what she had hoped Kathrada’s presence should have meant.

Until now the media reporting on the State Capture Commission as relayed in particular by eNCA, the unofficial mouthpiece of a faction of SA broadcasting with unfettered space and access who muscled itself into being the official news channel after ANN7 was forced to die, would daily feed us the salacious angles that fits their ideology and agenda. We are fed Ad-nauseam the same opinions and clips of among others anchors and commentators who consciously make more of for example a Hogan account.

Since eNCA has its own scripted agenda of conditioning ignorant minds as to who really proved state capture, we must hear them defy the attempts of objectivity, because objectivity for many in the media space is a dreaded disease to be avoided at all and any costs. Clearly having no interest or appetite the likes of Jeremy Maggs, Vuyo Mvoko, etc lack the capacity to hardly ever critically in balance form reflect on the testimonies of those whom they have already declared heroes.

Until now the proverbial ‘State Capture ship’ was sailing in crafted smooth waters, with Vincent Maleka doing his job and pretty much in control of convincing SA of the media invented crime of State Capture.

Then came Wednesday, just before lunch we saw Mzwanele Manyi take the stand, yet he took the stand not in the witness seat, but in the place customarily reserved for legal counsel. Manyi showed up without any legal representation.

Manyi originally scheduled to appear before the Commission on November 23, took issue with evidence leader Maleka for seeking to deny him the opportunity to engage the matters raised by Phumla Williams who earlier shared her experiences at GCIS. In such testimony, she implicated Mzwanele Manyi as the CEO of GCIS on a number of scores. Let us not forget Pumla Williams’ account was made out to be the gospel and became a key testimony for the media’s claim of State Capture. She was passed off as a very credible, hard working and proficient in knowledge as a repository for state processes on procurement and contract employment conditions.

Advocate Vincent Maleka naturally attempted to throw a block to Manyi’s request to only engage the matters pertaining to Williams’ evidence. He even suggested if Manyi was going to avail himself now, he must be willing to face cross-examination on every issue that Maleka has in front of him that implicates Manyi. Maleka previously also argued to deny Fana Hlongwane among others the right to cross-examine, when he opted for a narrow interpretation of what the Terms of Reference of the Commission in this regard mean.

Manyi protested and said he has not filed a petition to cross-examine hence he will restrict himself to the account as it relates to the Williams submission. Judge Zondo allowed sense to prevail and directed that Manyi, for availing himself be afforded to present what he had deemed the reason for his appearance for Wednesday and be available to be engaged on the scheduled 23rd November date. Manyi was emphatic that he is ready to be engaged on the said date on the litany of other matters that Maleka has prepared to engage him on. The Chair Deputy Chief Justice Zondo prevailed on Maleka to consider either questioning Manyi after his submission or to hold back on all questions for the scheduled date of November 23. With this Manyi prevailed and began to lead share his account on the terms he had advanced.

Right here a disruption in the State Capture narrative as heard before the Commission was now being presented. Manyi became the first person to give an account on matters that he had determined to address devoid of other things that may be levelled against him. His testimony backed by reports including a scathing report from Treasury he had to fight to lay his hands on confirmed a disruption. Manyi presented his account which includes exhibits detailing a different story of his leadership at the helm of GCIS as juxtaposed to the claimed competency of those who have been celebrated by the testimony of Williams.

Manyi shared how he became the CEO of GCIS. He made it clear that it was the late Collins Ohm Chabane, the Minister in the presidency with jurisdiction over planning and monitoring who very briefly informed him that he has a choice one of two jobs either, CEO of GCIS or COO in the presidency. He opted for the first and started working based on his understanding and prism of leadership to transform GCIS from its complicated shaded visionary statement to the still embraced simple but practical statement that has survived since 2012. He shared his analysis and assessment of an entity that lacked in effectiveness and efficiency to execute its mandate. Manyi also highlighted how he uncovered the crime of corruption through a procurement system that seasoned celebrated ones could not.

He took the time to show how Pumla Willams was economical with the truth on straightforward questions directly posed to her by the Chairperson on some issues. Manyi clarified these matters and gave explanations as to why Williams’ testimony is not credible and bereft of facts. Manyi’s account poured cold water on the claims of Williams, he even explained his so-called contact with her when she was testifying seeking to enable her to relay the facts and not the imagery.

Manyi’s evidence proved damning to the media crafted so-called ‘star account’ of Pumla Williams, he came armed with documents and reports as he outlined that Williams was implicated in an R7million scheme at the expense of GCIS. This payment was paid in tranches of R1million to avoid the scrutiny of the treasury. Apparently, the splitting of invoices was until Manyi’s arrival at GCIS a common practice.

Armed with a Treasury Report on its investigations into irregular expenditure he broke down the calculations. The 7million expense raised had to do with the irregular appointment of a service provider. He also raised the subject of R777000.00 paid to the second supplier. Manyi explained that had Treasury not launched its investigation, the financial exposure for GCIS could have accrued to R26M. Manyi was emphatic the person who signed this payment was Ms Pumla Williams.

According to Manyi, Williams was not authorised to sign for such expenditure. Manyi informed the Commission that there were in the real sense three service providers found naked in the National Treasury’s report. Two of these were directly linked to GCIS, while the third one was contracted to Stats SA. He outlined the duty of the Stats SA service provider was to supply goods for the work to be done at GCIS appointed service providers. He argued that this did not happen while the service provider was paid R64million for work not performed. Manyi explained that his decision to divert reporting from Williams to the CEO, was once he became aware of the rot at GCIS.

It can be argued that Manyi’s testimony caused more than a disruption to the much made of Pumla Williams testimony at one level while on the other hand to the Commission itself which was coasting along assuming their witnesses have made the case for the media crafted crime of State Capture. Not only did Manyi tore Pumla Williams’ testimony to shreds, and disrupted the Commission he equally disrupted the biased media led by eNCA anchors. We know that as much as the Commission is claimed to set things right, as its own universe it really is spreading more disorder particularly to those who naturally assumed their testimonies can only be the truth.

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine
Political Commentator & Writer Chairperson of TMoSA Foundation

POEM: Capturing the state commission, season one

 

State Capture Commission,
season one, are you following?
Where facts become fiction
and fiction is led by fixation,
where published books are re-edited
and multiple versions,
have become concrete evidence.

State Capture Commission,
a comedy of drama,
where one is offered a bribe
by someone,
you really can’t identify,
and threatened
by the same person.
All for millions six-hundred on toe…

All of this after
you starred in a movie
dubbed “Guptaleaks”, illegally obtained,
and sold on bootleg,
you were paraded in an expert of linking dots,
the champion of proving of state capture.
Now you not sure,
all you know it was a Gupta…
after all they all look the same…

State Capture Commission
where Zondo laments lack of evidence
when Ramaphosa told us
of the grave ‘extent of capture’ …
and confusion on Brian Hlongwa
and a Fana Hlongwana runs wild,
and plays out naturally in stuck mental confusion.

Season one sees,
a Mr Kaunda regularly confused
for a known female Lakela.
meetings with people
that simply never took place.
All of this between
an acquired taste for curry,
handbags – carried by a president,
wheelchairs and crutches,
galore claims of ministerial jobs,
when the record shows,
you invited yourself and was red-carded for wasteful expenditure,
your Transnet request-sponsorship.
Yet you are the second key witness,
for a crime called state capture.

State Capture Commission,
where evidence leaders,
err in lack of skill,
the focus is misplaced,
some hellbent on reading rules
in punitive means,
and a deputy chief justice forced
to help and educate,
while his own reputation,
in the end, may suffer.

Will we hear of jobs lost?
When you have lost other jobs too,
while linking the dots co-star Parafin
says he has no claims against,
Zuma…state capture’s fixation.
Will these stand cross examination?
Your guess as good as mine…

Evidence is important,
if I must write a report in the end,
I need evidence, not media reports
evidence is important,
Zondo clearly in irritation bemoans.

Season One,
A mix-masala assortment of fiction,
drown a semblance of facts,
Where more than a flirtation with fixation,
paints the canvas, the land of tourists and smiley faces.
Backed by a puppet master’s guide…

You can’t wonder,
who is the puppet master,
behind all this, rehearsed play?
Just a matter of time before all know, we already linking the dots –
after all Pravin – he signed Pauw’s book,
the drama continues,
the twists ever so real
Exactly, how much more can we handle,
in this soap-opera,
the subscription we pay for?

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine
Copyright, August 28, 2018