Is Ramaphosa’s maiden cabinet falling apart, paralysed by corruption and ‘state capture’ claims?

The Ramaphosa caretaker presidency era faces not just complexities and contradictions inherited from apartheid but also new anomalies produced by the democratic dispensation. It is more than nine months since Ramaphosa delivered the 2018 SONA and subsequently appointed his maiden cabinet. Ramaphosa’s campaign to ANC and SA’s high offices was framed around morality understood singularly in being anti-corruption. His orchestrated public relations campaign for both offices sought to cast him as Mr Clean, leading a campaign of cleaning up SA government from its portrayed bad name. Notwithstanding the fact that Ramaphosa was a deputy president and in charge of Government Business of an administration that is today communicated off as belligerent and down-right corrupt.

Before Ramaphosa announced his cabinet and after he had consulted with the Top 6, he still wanted to make more changes. We not sure who he consulted but hours before he announced his cabinet, he wanted to offload some he already approved and presented to the ANC top leadership as a means of consultation. Three names were singled out as necessarily contaminated and his new team warranted being quarantined from these names since they were associated with the now leprous family of Gupta name. Those names were among others that of Cabinet members, Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane and Malusi Gigaba. Mainstream media pioneered a campaign of Gupta association for these names, baying the political blood of the aforementioned and demanded that Ramaphosa gets rid of them if he was to show himself as serious with cleaning up the SA government. The problem with our discourse is the media led “angels and demons” frame it adopted for particularly ANC politicians.

Well, eight months later the much celebrated Nhlanhla Nene, Ramaphosa’s first choice for a finance minister recently was forced to resign after he admitted to the State Capture Commission that he had several meetings with the Guptas. With this, one of those framed as a natural angel became the first casualty of the State Capture claims. He is crafted as an angel despite the bleating of the PIC alleged corruption claims first unveiled by Weekly Xposé in May 2017 and later picked up by UDM Leader Bantu Holomisa when he drafted a set of letters demanding Nene to explain himself in the PIC frame.

It is, however, anticipated that many more will fall before May 2019. In a sense the words of former president Jacob Zuma are ringing true when he in prophetic sense warned beware those who shout state capture, they will regret it when they get exposed. President Ramaphosa’s deputy DD Mabuza recently faced a barrage of corruption claims carried in the New York Times portraying him as corrupt and a criminal. According to the NYT, Ramaphosa’s deputy is not clean at all and therefore, this detracts from the claims of a clean administration

Yesterday eNCA carried an interview with the ANC Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile who publicly confessed and admitted that the ANC received among others R2 million in donations from a company named as Vele Investments (PTY) LTD, Vele Investments (PTY) LTD incidentally owns VBS. The South African Reserve Bank launched a forensic investigation into VBS Mutual Bank’s affairs and found that almost R2bn was lost by the bank in what is referred to as the great bank heist.

Mashatile while not in the post at the time of the donations was categorically clear that there is evidence that the ANC received money from the compromised company of Vele Investments (PTY) LTD. He made it also clear the ANC does not engage in vetting any organisation that contributes to its coffers. His admission came with an offer of commitment to repay the money. This may rightly be considered a positive move in being accountable and transparent, yet this admission exposes the ambiguous conviction of what defines morality on another score. We will have to wait and see how forgiving the SA masses are towards the ANC come election time.

Let us not forget that earlier this week former Treasurer-General Dr Zweli Mkhize, who now is the Minister of Cooperative Governance was at pains to deny that the ANC was ever a recipient of any donations and also that he asked for an R2million donation from VBS during the year 2016 for its elections war chest. It was reported that Mkhize had asked for R2million from the bank’s seniors and allegedly promised to assist the bank in securing investments from municipalities.

On Wednesday Mkhize’s office distanced him from the claims that he solicited the funds with the promise of extending VBS’ favourable access to the Municipalities and their budgets. He categorically denied this as he attempted to distance the ANC from these vile acts of parasitic corruption and crass materialism. Yet the donations were made in a time when Mkhize was in office. The released statement from Mkhize’s office said he, “never assisted the VBS in securing any funding from municipalities or any other state institution”.

In January the Parliamentary inquiry on PRASA learnt from its former CEO Lucky Montana the role of Dr Zweli Mkhize with the following words, “However, the most powerful force that won the day and changed the course of PRASA forever, was driven by none other than the former minister of transport, Honourable Dipuo Peters, working with the ANC Treasurer-General, Dr Zweli Mkhize. He contended the aforementioned two were key with the aid of PRASA officials in the appointment of the new PRASA board that served their interests.

Montana was more scathing and directly accused Mkhize when he claimed that Mkhize in his capacity as ANC Treasurer-General, wanted PRASA to pay him 10% of the R465million that was due to Swifambo Rail Leasing in terms of the contract.

So, while, Mashatile admitted that the ANC received money from Vele, where Mkhize in the same week denied, more drama around another minister unfolded. Gigaba suffered more than a few cuts and bruises, he knows this dare to be the week of his political and career death. Gigaba’s woes have driven him to the proverbial ropes as he in proverbial sense dropped punch-drunk to the canvas when he was forced to flood the social media space with a litany of apologies after an unsavoury personal ‘home-affairs’ tape started doing the rounds. Gigaba threw himself at the mercy of those who would buy into his victimhood.  Yet, it didn’t work so well when the Public Protector released her statement and corroborated the earlier findings that Malusi Gigaba lied under oath on the Oppenheimer Fireblade OR Tambo saga. The Public Protector’s report which the President must respond to in action, hands Ramaphosa an easy task, yet that choice may have wider ramifications.

As if that was not enough, the Constitutional Court also ruled against his intention to appeal the verdict that found he lied. With this week not even done yet, it is surmised that Gigaba may not survive the next two weeks. It goes without saying that when Ramaphosa fires Gigaba it will not be for his personal indiscretions, too many of the political, religious, academic organised labour and civil society elites have been found guilty of the same sin. He, thus, can only be fired for the undeniable fact that he lied under oath and was convicted for that. Firing Gigaba alleviates Ramaphosa from one of his three Gupta associated demons as the mainstream media have come to dub the troika of Dlamini, Mokonyane and Gigaba. Yet, Ramaphosa is not out of trouble when he fires Gigaba because he will have to explain why he continues to have Mkhize who also lied.

Mkhize’s glaring exposure for having lied as shared by Mashatile puts him in the same space as Gigaba, because Mashatile yesterday confirmed that Mkhize had lied about the Vele Investments (PTY) LTD donation. Ramaphosa, therefore, cannot get away to fire Gigaba for lying when his colleague in the cabinet Dr Zweli Mkhize is today proven a liar too. How can Mkhize who lied about not knowing of this controversial donation be trusted to serve and lead in the cabinet? More so in view of him being accused of having promised deals for VBS in access of Municipalities budget when he is now in charge of the Municipalities, what does that mean?

If Gigaba and Mkhize present headaches for Ramaphosa, do not forget that recently the Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande also faced questions that he until now has not answered. These questions include allegations of loans and favours, Nzimande was a benefactor of the same trough of the now leprous Gupta family. Nzimande threatened to sue the Independent journalist Ayanda Mdluli, yet he never responded to the questions. It may just be a matter of time before the bubble burst on this one and that would mean Ramaphosa would have to deal with Nzimande too. Having lived through that before with Zuma when he wanted to off-load Nzimande, we saw what was love turned into scorn and hate. Will Ramaphosa face the same from one of his trusted kingmakers and lieutenants, Blade Nzimande? Watch this space.

It is argued as the weeks unfold more ‘angels’ with skeletons will fall, as contaminated by the leprous Gupta family, a VBS scandal, Bosasa deals and who knows what else. We also know that Barbara Hogan will soon appear before the State Capture Commission and she has threatened to bring the house down when she fingers Nzimande and ANC Chairperson formerly Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe. While we may not know the full details of Hogan’s statement, we can comfortably accept that it is laced with accusing the aforementioned as part of those who were captured as is claimed by the Gupta. Mantashe was accused by Vytjie Mentor, for his non-interest in her claims that she was offered a job. Mantashe’s name was also linked with the BOSASA tenders, the same company that is alleged to have extended loans and paid for a prominent Member of Parliament Vincent Smith’s children education. While the evidence against Mantashe may be hard to come by, the challenge is all this does not augur well for the so-called clean administration Ramaphosa is claiming to lead.

We not sure how much longer Ramaphosa will be able to entertain a very nonchalant Tito Mboweni who appears off on his own tangent. With all this unfolding another comical setting is developing. We all know that Mboweni was not Ramaphosa’s first choice or that of COSATU for the position. Mboweni knows this too and appears to push the envelope on that, he has since his advent been acting like a chief in charge. He read Ramaphosa the riot act on double-speaking with the words ‘’We must…Mr. President, stop to speak in contradictory turns.” Mboweni is stirring the ire with his running controversial commentary utterances on the SARB, the Gauteng e-Toll saga and his latest SAA shutting down statements. How long will the apparent jest-jabs last? Will Mboweni overplay his hand and find himself at odds with the ANC and its president? Will we see another Finance Minister when Ramaphosa is forced to assert himself?

Not only are these cabinet members a challenge as the SA discourse leads if you listen closely you hear more names bandied around that will fall when the evidence against them is being led. It must be noted that many of these are considered the media crafted ‘angels’ who have been feeding of the crafted demonising of others. They are portrayed as the last frontier against an ANC implosion.

I guess you see where this is going with just over seven months left before South Africans will go to the national ballots again. How many more “angels” will fall at the association of corruption and the media invented crime of state capture. Will there even be a cabinet by then? What is clear is the cabinet does not invoke any trust of a clean government. Maybe the same conclusion is drawn of the church, to find a church without sin, shut everyone including the priest out and you will have a clean church. Maybe if SA is to work for a clean government from Ramaphosa to the most angelic must exit the cabinet before a claim of a clean government can be entertained.

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine


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