Coalition antics a mockery of the will of the people


EFF dethrones the DA in coalitions while it leads a blindfolded ANC along, making a mockery of the will of the people.

South Africa remains a country proving an oyster tray for any interested public intellectuals. There is so much to opine on, from the drama at the State of Capture Commission to Theresa May’s whistle blow-stop, the ANC’s reneging on land reform as per its latest statement, the Constitutional Court pronouncing on culpability in the CPS and Sassa saga that cleared a Bathabile Dlamini, the Cape Flats police brutality in Bonteheuwel and the Nelson Mandela Metro’s dethroning of former mayor Trollip and replacing him with his arch-enemy Mongameli Bobani of the UDM. Claims of a resurgence of xenophobic violence in Soweto. This was followed by the Tshwane non-event and obvious egg on the face of an overconfident Kgosi Maepa of the ANC.

John Adams, the second USA president remarked on coalitions and democracy with the following words, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. Twas never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

The changing nature of our politics as evidence in an appetite for coalitions some claim is a sign of democratic maturity, while others see this era of political coalitions as utter expediency in which the will of the people in ballot definition is prostituted for veiled but glaring self-interest even at a personal level. South Africa is less than a year from its sixth national elections that will give effect to a sixth administration. Since the municipal elections of 2014, South Africa is increasingly proving a country ready for coalitions.

A coalition in political party sense attests a political alliance or an agreed political bloc for cooperation between different political parties on common political agenda, often for purposes of contesting an election to mutually benefit by collectively clearing election thresholds.

The SA psychology for coalitions is hardly a natural process but has a central player who above all else until very recently has defined the canvas of coalition politics in a democratic SA. The Democratic Alliance until recently stood unrivalled in its existence and daily life as anchored in the phenomenon of coalitions politics. For an elongated period, the DA singularly initiated and determined the political landscape of opposition party politics.

We saw how it swallowed Patricia De Lille’s ID party, we witnessed how its kiss with Mamphela Ramphele bludgeoned to death an AGANG-SA, it toyed with Lekota’s COPE and had flings with Holomisa’s UDM. It long bedded Meshoe’s ACDP and had flings with Buthelezi’s IFP. Can we forget how it’s chasing after Zwelinzima Vavi’s skirt was made public? This is a party that while it fails to live up to its first name (democratic) it excels in its last name (alliance), it rules by alliances where interest is the common factor.

It, therefore, becomes important to contextualise what happened this week against the backdrop of who the Democratic Alliance is in its governance of SA political nodes. What we are witnessing in this season is the fragility and glaring imploding, that many of us have opined over a longer period of time that showed this week when the last streaks of glue of its alliance with the Economic Freedom Fighters tore and it could no longer rely on the Patriotic Alliance for that one significant vote that stymied the earlier plan of the EFF.

Not only did the DA lose the Nelson Mandela Metro mayoral seat but it also lost its leader status of coalitions, it was dethroned by a less sophisticated somehow uncouth, streetfighter bully small enough to be an annoyance and big enough to make you realise how small you are with your so-called numbers.  The DA learns again today the truth of Napoleon Bonaparte’s words when he remarked, “The allies we gain by victory will turn against us upon the bare whisper of defeat”

It was clearly a week of political intrigue and drama. One that delivered jolts of tremors in the body-politick of South Africa’s leading political parties. We finally saw the much threatened and long promised removal of Nelson Mandela Metropole Mayor, the controversial vernacular-sassy Athol Trollip has his mayoral chain violently removed. The first salvo for this now historic event saw the DA speaker of the house Andre Lawack removed. Trollip was removed when a rebellious DA councillor decided it is time to pull the plug on him and the DA. Trollip and the DA were unceremoniously removed.

The DA’s entire campaign in parliament was in painting majority rule as a bad thing often using the northern state of Zimbabwe and its Zanu–PF as the evidence for this. The DA in its reinvention from its former Democratic Party, under Tony Leon whom Mandela dubbed a chihuahua, to its iron-guard Godzilla’s Democratic Alliance, had this idea as its central persuasion. You will recall how the DA in its practice of politics often sought to make democracy and political life determined by the courts.

The DA was always the master coalition partner and has had several intimate relations, one – night stands and weekend-spends with virtually every party that is defined in opposition sense. In 2016 it started flirting and casually dating the EFF, it’s most difficult so far.

The DA in 2016 first succeeded to smooth talk the young virgin of politics, who out of its anger for her parent the ANC was willing to defy every law and make agreements with the worst to insult its parent. The DA with this anger of a young lover, the EFF, was able to secure itself in two Gauteng metros.

Not that Gauteng in recent national elections ever delivered for the ANC outright power, it was always a borderline case of 50%-plus. The ANC in the province made a ton of blunders; can we ever forget the move to force Thoko Didiza into the race as an alternative when the race between two contenders was considered too violent. This move left the ANC exposed since its voters in Tshwane did not endorse the will of a boardroom Gauteng leadership and showed their dissatisfaction when the ANC failed to make the cut to define and form the local government of Tshwane.

While Trollip has been long on the radar for removal, Solly Msimanga in a comedy of recent appointments from people who claim education and expertise they simply never had soon stood accused of massive corruption for an issued tender that did not meet the necessary PFMA requirements. Msimanga was fingered by the EFF as the next one after Trollip to go. We knew that because the EFF’s leader had a press conference and spelt this out. They made it clear that Herman Mashaba, the City of Johannesburg Mayor, was not in any danger or under any threat of losing his job because, apparently, he is pliant to the objectives of the EFF. The noise around an intended Msimanga ouster gained intensity and momentum with the emergence of a new face in the ANC Tshwane leader Kgosi Maepa.

We learnt of a night-vigil to be held on Wednesday as the ANC in Tshwane was readying itself for taking over the mayoral office. Maepa’s social media world was a-flood with him making wild claims how he will be mayor come Thursday night. Well its Friday now, the mayor of Tshwane is still Solly Msimanga, after two motions sponsored respectively by the EFF and the ANC against him were disrupted abandoned after the EFF staged a walk-out.

Interesting enough, the EFF is so smart and self-centred and knows how eager the ANC is to occupy the mayoral seat that it staged a walk-out because their motion was procedurally questioned. To show you the EFF is not concerned about any of these political parties including the ANC, it didn’t want Msimanga removed on an ANC motion, it was never going to allow the lusty ANC to get that honour. It rather staged a walk-out to ensure the ANC’s motion fails regardless of whether the aim of removing Msimanga was the objective. The ANC had to abandon its motion because without the EFF it could never bring the motion to succeed

Coalition politics while a practised invention of the DA as matriarch is quickly becoming the playground of the much smaller in size EFF. The EFF has understood the greed of its fellow partners to hold office and uses that as a means to negotiate whatever it deems right for itself. The EFF has become the kingmaker for the DA and promised the same to the ANC; its best role is its practised king dethroner. Trollip was made by the EFF, similar to Msimanga and Mashaba. The EFF’s stance though glaringly obvious is interesting since they have managed to make a mockery of democracy because it better understands the heartbeat of a ruling party who has lost credibility and an essentially white-interest party that can snap out of the fundamental core of its interest.

The EFF plays their new type of coalition politics in a form of street-brawl style. It’s unconventional demand and threat strongman politics are informed by scaremongering as it claims it leads SA. Another aspect of the EFF, which many don’t see, is their dictate of who becomes the appropriate candidate. While it claims not to dictate choice, it essentially demands the right to veto the choice of partners for what it deems ‘clean’ or ‘proper’ candidates.  This, in a nutshell, is telling your partner it’s your choice to select, it’s ours to veto your choice, therefore directing you in your choice because you not capable to present an honourable choice.

The ANC is very uncomfortable and not accustomed to coalition politics, it’s really a novice because it was spoiled for the better part of democracy to always secure an average of 62% of the national ballot.

It’s the first sign of dipping across the board was the 2016 municipal elections. It was now in stark reality faced with not a single outright win of any metro in Gauteng. It survives in Ekurhuleni, aided by the singular vote of the PA who keep Mzwandile Masina as mayor. Since the ANC is new to the notion of coalition politics it does not know how to play the game and swayed by its rudimentary interest of ruling it assumes it can negotiate itself back into a mayoral position because that has the same power of a ballot endorsement.  If the ANC in both national and all metropole definitions can rightly pause and hear again Benjamin Franklin when he cautions, “Necessity never made a good bargain”

Clearly, SA’s leading party is at sixes and sevens on what coalitions mean and where that will play out, it has been sold the story that it will not make it to the psychological 60% threshold come 2019 hence it must now find the most appropriate partner to pull them over the bar. The ANC remains inept on the practice and ingredients of coalitions, it trails the mother of coalitions the DA, it equally falls behind the upstart street-brawler bully EFF.

Coalitions are essentially about a deal. It just appears the EFF gets better for its size from both the DA and ANC, who remains one stuck in sophistication and the other inept in negotiating the best deal for themselves.

Clyde Ramalaine

Political Commentator and Writer


Ramaphosa and Magashule a volley of ‘dark corner’ versus ‘a product of white capital’ recorded claims

plotting against any elected ANC official with aim of removal remains wrong, be it a president or secretary general functionary-

The role of the media in South African politics with the ANC as its epicentre cannot be overstated. If we today have ‘state capture’ or ‘secret meetings’ claims bandied around in certainty of persuasion less in evidence but anchored in sentiment, it can directly be attributed to intimate relations between political personalities and a lusty media.

Yet, it is also not a complete picture to end there, peeling the layers in search for a better understanding of the media on these two respective matters lead us to a discovery we perhaps didn’t want to make. That being, a group that does not exclude some who in apartheid sense were agents and today are paraded as celebrated moralists. Also, not excluded from this group in the media, may I add, is a segment of essentially women journalists who at some point in their individual and or collective careers have been on the side of those they today appear to seek to destroy at +every turn with their claims through an access of media as weaponry.

Twisted relationships, friendships some intimate between journalists and politicians are an age-old thing. Apartheid’s known project, Stratcom evidence the symbiotic relationship shared by both media and political interests. In SA we also know of this since this increasingly extends to some leaders of organised labour and political party definitions in which among others the ANC, COSATU and the SACP are not exempted.

The challenge we must contend with remains, have we reached a place where this tiny segment of journalists dictates the daily politics from personal deep-seated scorn over what happened at a personal level and setting. As already concluded the paucity of politics as led by the ANC has provided an opportunity for the personal agenda of journalists to direct the landscape of SA discourse. On another score, are these journalists mere tools used by sophisticated political interest to wage proxy wars in zones of public space where they are handsomely rewarded? Has South African discourse become controlled and dictated to by past intimate relations and to what extent have these journalists been active in dictating to ANC leadership their utterances?

We know this pollution of cross-border relationships between the political and the media immanent in agreed pact by some as EFF leader Julius Malema recently confessed of himself and Ranjeni Munusamy on removing Jacob Zuma. This is a classic example of how common interests can violate and abuse the profession of ethical journalism reducing it to an orchestrated vendetta-driven-machinery of pure interest where the rules favour those who have the platforms to denigrate others while celebrating those they may benefit from at essentially an economic level.

On Monday elected ANC President and SA caretaker, Ramaphosa addressed the COSATU Congress that was about to elect a new leadership. For the first time in a very long period, the entire ANC Top 6 leadership attended together. We know that COSATU is vocal for its claims of ‘state capture’ and more recently its demand on action against those who stand accused of having engaged in ‘secret meetings’ to oust Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa is silent on many things among others, our request for him to speak on the Bird Island Boys scandal, which he hitherto has remained ominously silent about. He is silent on the subject of true economic redress in line with ANC adopted resolutions, I am not yet engaging his temporal relief rescue deal, we will engage that shortly. Ramaphosa continues his double- speaking on land and appears to navigate his way around what white monopoly capital have come to define as radical and populistic ANC adopted policies that scare investors from seeing SA as worthwhile investment soil.

Notwithstanding that, Ramaphosa appears to have used his presence at COSATU, his historical constituency base to take wild but direct swipes at his own Secretary General Ace Magashule. Let us hear Ramaphosa in his own words., “Those who want to divide the ANC, what agenda are they serving? Because coming out of Nasrec, we all held one agenda of unity, renewal, jobs and transforming our economy. So, if you are going to divide the ANC tell us what your agenda is,” Ramaphosa accused those who met, as having done so in the claim of some “meeting in dark corners” and plot to divide the ANC of being counter-revolutionaries. “Comrades, this is a call for unity. And those who are engaging in acts to disunite our people and divide our people must be exposed,” he added.

With this statement in the heartland of his constituency, Ramaphosa ventured to entertain a salacious topic, abandoning reason and the espoused interest of the unity he in the same breath prognosticates for populistic rhetoric and being in control of a media-led initiative. It became his space to serve a volley of shots necessitating a response which was to be returned by a Secretary-General, Ace Magashule who from the bedrock of his 25 year-long of the Free State province will not be going down in the silence of the night. Magashule too went to his home-based Mangaung constituency, this time it was a youth event of COSAS. There he would make known his mind and heart on the actions of Ramaphosa as displayed at a COSATU rally.

Well, what happened at COSATU was an ANC president throwing his secretary general for his convenient wolves, he went there to politically annihilate a nemesis, someone he never appreciated because Magashule was not part of his ‘winning team’ that he in a break with ANC culture and traditions dared to announce months before the conference. Ramaphosa fed Magashule and he knew it because as he spoke his pack of wolves were shouting…. AAAACCCCCEEEE… in reference to Magashule, whom Ramaphosa deliberately sought to embarrass.

The ANC president failed to protect his leadership but was willing to sacrifice him to the lowest bidder, ready to proverbially deliver his secretary general’s head on a silver platter to those who have to bid for his political life. In a strange recurrence of a repeat of proverbial Marikana tragedy, Ramaphosa knowing a better path consciously opted to be this callous and less circumspect to appreciate what his actions would have in impact on the ANC.

Ramaphosa misled by the venom his constituency decided to abandon the sense of leadership for unity and fell hook-line-and-sinker for an audience that in all probability forced him to lose his composure and be reduce to the one-minute politics in defiance of being the one who was elected to lead the ANC in unity. Ramaphosa had been here before when he was one of those accused of plotting to overthrow a Thabo Mbeki presidency in 2001. He knows from where those claims emanated and what the prevailing internal political climate was at the time. He, therefore, with such historical information may have had access, as in the case of Marikana, to a better toolbox from which he may have opted to deal with these claims of ‘secret meetings’ which he rephrased as, “meeting in dark corners.”  He knew that the meetings took place in public spaces (Maharani Hotel lobby and Beverley Hills veranda) and that the claim of a ‘secret meeting’ is and remains a sophism but he needed to suck on the joystick of this moment in front of his constituency base flexing his political power muscle.

Secretary-General Ace Magashule, in addressing the COSAS gathering in the Free State, therefore, responded to Ramaphosa’s open attack and would not back down. He made it clear that Ramaphosa with his attack was first attacking an ANC leader. Never before has a secretary-general been so clear on a president he was serving. While former SG’s may have expressed their private views on presidents they served, Magashule told Ramaphosa in an unequivocal sense, you and your CR17 hardliner crowd will not prevent me from meeting a former president. His choice of words significant, “Let me tell you, nobody can stop me from meeting President Jacob Zuma. I will even invite President Jacob Zuma to come and talk to you as students”

Magashule continued, “There is no ANC leadership which I am part of, that is going to stop me and many others from meeting president Jacob Zuma”. He asserted, “Nobody will take me out of this ANC, nobody.”  With this Magashule underscored the important role and significant place former President Zuma holds in ANC setting despite attempts to reduce him in political expediency to a pariah state of leprosy because some in their fears and media invented ‘state capture’ coupled with ‘secret meeting plots’ prove gullible to earn public sympathy by playing the victim.

What Magashule next said, is more scathing and more blood-curdling, he ventured to draw a distinction between himself and Ramaphosa in ANC original sense. It is a given that Ramaphosa owes his public life and later political presence to the mind, heart and hand of white monopoly capital if we accept his emergence in 1978 as adopted one by the Urban Foundation. Magashule would have known, the words of Clive Menell’s spouse, Irene who as recorded in Anthony Butler’s biography on Ramaphosa, said Ramaphosa was brought into the Urban Foundation as a ‘charity gesture’.

Ramaphosa from his Urban Foundation umwelt, therefore, owes his public life to white capital interests since we also know it was Harry Oppenheimer who envisioned a UF, while Anton Rupert had the honour of defining the UF in strategic ethos. Calling Ramaphosa a product of white capital interest is driving a jagged-edged dagger into the heart and twisting it for maximum impact, clearly a very angry Magashule. He with this becomes the first high ranking ANC official and member of the ANC to tell Ramaphosa you not authentically ANC, you don’t belong to the ANC you are a product of white interest, that is your known history Magashule dovetailed this in reference to himself as juxtaposed to Ramaphosa,
“I am not the product of a white person. I am not a product of capital”. He thus seizes the moment to claim himself as a member of the ANC produced by the ANC and thus a product of the ANC, unlike Ramaphosa.

Why then would Ramaphosa take the media inspired so-called ‘secret meeting’ so serious though he appeared to have attempted to downplay it?

Ramaphosa remains an ANC president that is confronted with the reality of an ANC that may stumble for the first time in reaching the proverbial and psychological 62% margin his predecessors since Mandela to Zuma comfortably attained and maintained throughout the life of democracy. He is confronted by a significant portion of ANC members and leaders who did not trust him to lead and continues not to trust him. While many at first glance wanted to make NASREC a battle of CR and NDZ camps contest, a better way to look at it remains the battle between the forces of capital and the actual poor that has come to describe and define the ANC in a totality of its existence in this epoch. Nasrec became the struggle between white privilege and black economic denial. What cannot be denied is that Ramaphosa’s rise to the ANC leadership comes with flame grilled peri-peri white monopoly capital spice. While the most recent published most IPSOS survey (a useful tool that forces peoples thinking) extends him a personal popularity of 72% over the ANC’s 60% it cannot be seen as a final word on what is really happening in the ANC when it comes to the division of white capital and the economically disenfranchised poor.

From this, it is crystal clear that the ANC as led by Ramaphosa continues to lead a deeply divided organisation and one increasingly as warned by Oliver Tambo teetering with ‘self-destruction’ if the two fundamental positions of its president and secretary general offices are at war with each other. For the last known 25 years of the ANC in democracy seldom have the lines so clearly been drawn and the divide so emphatically clear. The last time we saw a secretary general resign was Ramaphosa himself when he bitter with not be considered fit to accompany Mandela to a deputy president post, stepped down in 1996.

What then is at stake as an immediate focus?

The critical aspect at stake is the ANC list finalisation, the balance of forces in an ANC setting has always subjected itself to the use of this cardinal aspect to determine the actual lay of the land in support for or against. This critical aspect usually managed and led if not controlled by the office of the secretary-general is in this season the prize position, it appears the CR 17 hardliner group has smelled blood and will seek to hound Magashule from his elected office, incidentally something not considered a plot. They seek to solidify their control over the ANC at an internal level where Magashule in his current position stands as the last frontier.

A tale of secret meetings since Nasrec 2017, have come to define the ANC leadership. Not having won the contest of presidential elections in the outright convincing sense, it is visiting in ghost form of taunting the current ANC president. The margins of 179 votes that separated him from his contender has after nine months not dissipated. Equally so the even tinier margin by which Magashule became secretary-general a mere 24 votes is also not relenting for those who never wanted him in that position. The strategy to bulwark and upstage the secretary-general’s office was the beefing up of the presidential office at the Luthuli Head Office.

While the contest is easily drawn between two personalities of a Ramaphosa and Magashule, we will miss the bigger picture that of a contest between capital and the poor, what some have dubbed as the Bidvest ANC versus the Gupta ANC. A tale of ANC policies versus a cremora-lite version of double-speaking. The survival of an ANC organisation needs the cooperation and working together of these two offices with clear boundaries. While Ramaphosa remains thrust in legitimacy crisis for those who didn’t trust him to lead the ANC which made up a significant chunk. Magashule is also abhorred by those of the Ramaphosa camp who see him as a problem and the next one to hang to dry after forcing Jacob Zuma and Supra Mahumapelo.

Was Ramaphosa, wrong for referring to the Maharani and Beverley Hills Hotels meetings as “meeting in dark corners”?  Yes, he was, we all know as I already opined in another piece earlier that the claims of a ‘secret meeting’ in a public space simply do not corroborate. We know that the term ‘secret meeting’ was not even concocted in origin by any ANC leader but a questionable journalist Sunday Times journalist, Qaanitha Hunter, who herself in the aftermath of her exposition was exposed for her past and cosy association with Atul Gupta and the New Age newspapers which she left angrily for not being appointed as its deputy editor when she demanded to earn more than others. We also know that Ramaphosa’s ‘meetings in dark corner’ claims feed of the media led narrative of ‘angels ‘and ‘demons’, those who make up his dark corners crowd, are necessarily following the scripted media line of ‘demons’. I am afraid Ramaphosa knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it.

It was, therefore, irresponsible for the ANC president to fall for the claims of a ‘secret meeting’ unless the president so relies upon, or is in cahoots with these expressions of the selected media for a means to deal with his organisational leadership legitimacy challenges. Why then would Ramaphosa be this irresponsible? It is a game of high stakes and time is not favourable to his leadership. On a daily basis, the window of opportunity for CR 17 hardliners to convince those whom they in the aftermath of Zuma resignation squeezed out and side-lined is closing to take control of the ANC, to engender true unity, or to convince others that they can be trusted to deliver unity. In order for these known hardliners to secure full control (whatever that means), they have in their wisdom resolved to get the elected secretary general Ace Magashule out.

They have worked meticulously on that plan. The plan is clear Magashule is a problem and not working in the interest of those I would refer to as the undying CR17 hardliner supporters who include Ministers like Pravin Gordhan publicly accused by among others the DSG of the ANC Jessie Duarte as sitting behind a plot to have her and others who were Zuma sympathetic removed, purged and exposed with state capture claims as a politically expedient means. It means Magashule will face a drummed-up SACP and Cosatu led the disciplinary hearing, yet I ask why is Ramaphosa not facing a disciplinary hearing too.

Ramaphosa, with this statement at COSATU, may have read the balance of forces at an internal level as shifting towards his side, buoyed by the idea he was going to announce on Thursday a government initiated economic rescue package. The idea of being seen to saving SA in an economic rescue package though aesthetic and very temporal may have been part of his arsenal for coming at the elected ANC secretary-general. Magashule on a pre-planned drummed up theatre of a COSATU elective conference. When former Cosatu president, Sdumo Dlamini was interviewed on the subject of a secret plot to oust Ramaphosa, he had more wisdom to publicly laugh at the reporter, perhaps thinking are you not understanding this as part of a lame public relations job aimed at harvesting sympathy for an incumbent.

It is clear that the lines have been drawn, and pretending it has not been drawn is to fool oneself. The ANC unity that was propagated from the voting at Nasrec and pleaded for in the aftermath of the outcomes of the conference, appears a long-forgotten past.

The unfolding days and weeks purport to be very interesting particularly since Ramaphosa already stands accused of playing the man and not the ball. He is already called out for his double-standards of questionable morality as it relates to an organisation and its leaders on corruption claims. As is asserted in for example the weekly Mail & Guardian that accuses him of an ambivalent ethic when he is silent on some of his key supporters like Chairperson and Minister Gwede Mantashe and Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla who are fingered in BOSASA corruption when he is obsessed to want to listen to questionable scorned  journalists leading a media narrative of ‘secret meetings’ from the bedrock of their personal displeasure with deals that have gone wrong.  In the case of Makwetla, very vocal in condemning of Zuma, it gets even worse because he admitted he received a bribe of R1million which he kept for six weeks before developing a conscience to take the money back. This again exposes Ramaphosa in a farcical leader sense again as more concerned about his personal self-interest and political survival, something his days from UF, CUSA and COSATU later ANC SG days became notorious for. It is an open secret that Bosasa directors offered to make many ANC MPs millionaires. I this what happened to Vincent Smith?

Something will give and only time will tell but those on both sides of the NASREC presidential divide are today more emboldened, the lines are harder and the risks more pronounced. The ANC is and remains a toxically divided organisation and do not have the luxury of uniting before May 2019 a time schedule for South Africa’s sixth national elections.

What must remain as undeniable, is that a plot against an elected organisational president or its secretary general attest the same crime and one cannot be preferred to the other in blurred aesthetics of kaftans of an SA president as super important. If we too condemn the media created ‘secret meetings’ of those Ramaphosa call meeting in ‘dark corners’ can we also condemn the ‘secret meetings’ to plot against Magashule for his removal? Don’t be misled by a caretaker SA president’s role, see the wrong at an ANC organisational level where its most senior incumbents are subjects of alleged plots real or fake.

Clyde Ramalaine
Political Commentator and Writer
Chairperson of TMoSA Foundation – The Thinking Masses of SA

Mbeki claims a pro-poor ANC has abandoned its roots


Reading Mbeki in this epoch reminded me of James E Cone’s book entitled “Martin and Malcolm and America a-dream-or-a-nightmare”. In such Cone makes the case that for King, given his education, economic status and social standing in that society the cry was for integration. Malcolm Little (X)’s struggle was about the right to his identity not as integrated but in coexistence of an equality of humanity with those responsible for his disenfranchisement.

He then shows how it was right for King to dream while X only saw a nightmare. I am afraid the liberation struggle could not have been about being accepted by the colonials and apartheid minorities, the struggle was always about the emancipation to possess and own as was taken from those who suffered the fate of disenfranchisement.

Let me then upfront thank Mbeki for having shared his mind and nailed his colours to the mast with this 30-page mini-volume, on the subject of land redress, among others, since we now have heard him in crystal clear fashion.

The former President of the ANC and SA recently took it upon himself through his foundation to release a statement which he refers to as a pamphlet centred on the subject of a land debate. In it he details a historical path for an ANC-led national question, driven by the philosophy of a national democratic revolution in which he locates the ANC as leader of society. Mbeki contextualises the history of liberation struggle understood from yellow, black and green colours as far back as 1912, for a movement that first came to be known SAANC and finally the African National Congress. We hear him as he categorically asserts, “Accordingly, successive generations among this indigenous African majority have consistently accepted and treated the ANC as their political home exactly because of how it has defined its historic mission over the decades, and what it has done to accomplish this mission.”

In order to drive his fundamental points home that being, (1). A consistent ANC policy position with the 1960 adoption of the Freedom Charter as cardinal bulwark he argues that the ANC’s  54th Conference held in December 2017 in its adopted and articulated position on land (2) deviated from that trajectory and is yet to explain its reason for such deviation and means for such actions. (3) He argues that this deviation translates to an abandonment of what the ANC always believed, stood for and lived up to since it (4)recrafts the ANC as representative of the black masses and by extension, therefore, the ‘black party’ that former President Jacob Zuma articulated, as new and un-ANC.

In order to advance his rationale to make the case for what he termed a contemporary and most recent deviation, he juxtaposes the outcomes of the 2017 Policy Conference held in June and the adopted resolutions with its leadership pronouncements. In defence of his position he cites Pixley ka Seme and Chief Albert Luthuli in different epochs who both articulate in parity the notion of an ANC that exists to attain and work for a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society in its fundamental original intention and end goal as understood in a national democratic movement leading a revolution framed around a national question. He painstakingly explains this to those who do not know at the hand of critical areas in the life of the ANC among others the formation of the PAC in 1959 and later the Group of Eight who were expelled in the early 70’s.

We must, however, caution that Mbeki’s choice of Ka Seme and Luthuli in this instance are deliberate because he extends himself a free pass not to cite for example, a Anton Lembede who in crystal clear sense shares his mind on the tension of the white supremacist mind on the Africans, with the following words, “The African people have been told time and again that they are babies, that they are an inferior race, that they cannot achieve anything worthwhile by themselves or without a white man as their ‘trustee’ or ‘leader’. This insidious suggestion has poisoned their minds and has resulted in a pathological state of mind. Consequently, the African has lost or is losing the sterling qualities of self-respect, self-confidence and self-reliance. Even in the political world, it is being suggested that Africans cannot organise themselves or make any progress without white ‘leaders. Now I stand for the revolt against this psychological enslavement of my people. I strive for the eradication of this ‘Ja-Baas’ mentality, which for centuries has been systematically and sublimely implanted into the minds of the Africans.”

Mbeki may also reduce the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe as a mere tactic but not a progression in thinking on how to realise the goals of that humanity it advocates as its objective.

Mbeki continues his belief of multiracialism and claims, “all South Africans had an obligation to accept that our country had become a multi-racial entity and therefore that it must respect the principle and practice of unity in diversity, became the view of the indigenous majority which had come to accept the ANC as ‘virtually their only true representative and defender of their interests!”

Mbeki in preamble sense makes a fundamental point when he argues, “Thus such notions as building a “non-racial” South Africa as a central objective of the liberation struggle became a property of the majority of the African oppressed, not merely the ANC. This is why all political formations which sought to challenge the ANC on this matter of a “non-racial” South Africa failed. This was because the matter to ensure that the successful liberation struggle remained loyal to the task to build a “non-racial” society had become an objective shared by the majority of the African oppressed, regardless of political affiliation.

One may easily concur with his claim for its apparent nobility and tranquil stance, yet at a deeper level arises questions on the ensconced subject matter of ‘race’ and how that ‘non- racial’ is given content. Later on, as means of conclusion, we will revisit this topic and ask of Mbeki to not just in a historical path but cognisant of an experiential reality, wherein undeniable and the definite anomalies breathe, what such content of a non-racial identity make look like. Particularly since Mbeki is known for his personal conviction of a doctrine of multi-racialism, the same he extends to the ANC devoid of necessary critique in asking the ANC why it accepts race as means for identity configuration.

Mbeki laments the fact that history will lead that the ANC has always understood its historic mission, as “being as being the heavy task to negate and repudiate the vile racism inherent in imperialism, colonialism and apartheid. Throughout the century of its existence, while also fully respecting its antecedents, the ANC has therefore done everything to emphasise that it has a historic mission both to help eradicate the legacy of colonialism and apartheid and simultaneously to help create a truly non-racial and non-sexist human society”

With this Mbeki again reminds all and sundry that the ANC he joined and later served from inception came into existence not for the masses, but for an elite minority who engaged on land ownership.  This is true, yet it cannot be that this is upheld as if the ANC did not increasingly adopt a pro-poor stance and identity. We all know that those who vote for the ANC from Mandela to today make up the poor and hardly the elite.

Yet, Mbeki appears to contradict himself when he a short while later argues, “it is therefore obvious that the ANC must proceed from this well-established tradition, which identifies it in the eyes of the masses of the black people as their representative and leader, as it takes action to take such action as arises from the adoption by the 54th National Conference of the ANC of the resolution on ‘land expropriation without compensation’. Meaning his deliberate reference and acknowledgement of ‘masses of black people’ identifying with the ANC as their representative and leader, inadvertently underscores Zuma’s unequivocal claims of the ANC as a black party. Mbeki’s sensitivity to ‘a black party’ as articulated by Zuma appears more artificial than real since we know the ANC in governance is kept in power by the poor black masses.

We are compelled to pause and ask of Mbeki to explain his deliberate usage of these constructs, particularly those that define social identities in SA. From previous engaging with Mbeki, my assertion remains that Thabo Mbeki in a sense of convenience of assumption uses “African” and “Black” interchangeably without ever attempting to define any of the constructs in its ontological trajectories, its evolutionary developmental cycles and its current anomalies and ambiguities.  In that sense, we are not sure if his use of ‘black’ is borrowed from the prism of a much later developed (the 1960’s) Black Consciousness response psychology paradigm or a ‘black’ defined by those who had defined natives black that came to be what he considers the authentic ANC?

Likewise, we are not clear and he does not afford us to appreciate his usage of ‘African’ as either borrowed from a geographical milieu or the known Pan Africanist philosophy made famous under the leadership of Robert Sobukwe. We are also not sure why he is reluctant to nail his proverbial colours to the mast to explain the problem of an African identity formulation from a scholarly perspective. For Mbeki, these are interchangeable constants less because he laboured to explain them but more for his ease of use to drive a point home when it suits him.

It would then have to be surmised that for Mbeki the ANC at inception and throughout its cited history understood the differences of what an ‘African’ means and what ‘black’ or any other group in distinction to each other. Mbeki has not taken the time to red flag or question the fact as to why the achieved democracy he espouses as an attainment of the national democratic revolution as misled by apartheid wholly and uncritically appropriated and adopted these race-based configurations for the totality of South African humanities.

Mbeki, pontificates, it therefore stands to reason that as far as the ANC is concerned, the Land Question in our country cannot be resolved in any manner which destroys or negates the role of the ANC in terms of helping to create and build the new and humane Africa of which Pixley Seme and Albert Luthuli spoke! With this, he wants to hold the ANC to the words of Seme and Luthuli as a matter of convenience because he accepts and prescribes to a doctrine of a static ANC that was not shaped by its century-long sojourn.

So desperate does Mbeki become that he has to remind the ANC that ‘South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white; and, the land shall be shared among those who work it! ‘, The truth is there has never been a season when the ANC did ever imagine a South Africa without those who have accepted white for their denotation. As the USA social scientist James Baldwin long concluded, “there are no white people, only those who think they are white”.

To therefore, in this season, seek to underscore the right of ‘whites’ is an overstatement to say the least. To read the ANC the riot act on the reality of black and whites living together is a jaundiced rhetorical jab. No ANC leader has called for the eradication of whites, what ANC leaders increasingly have come to realise is that its position of seeking a living together must be centred on the undeniable reality of the very two nations Mbeki himself analysed in the economic sense which is the elephant in the room. That awareness dictates that the ANC leadership admits, calls for change and develops policy positions and  programmes that will ensure redress over the shorter and longer period.

When ANC leaders do this, it is in the aim to work for that which must reflect the true new society where the apartheid world is no more. The ANC and all its members and supporters call for land redress not with vindictive and malicious intent but in stark acceptance that the current situation is not the revolution it set out to achieve. The current politically connected few empowered blacks with their spouses cannot be considered the end of redress when the masses are landless. Yet it also cannot be accepted that the attainment of radical economic transformation will occur without costs to those who currently own that space. We cannot be under illusions of grandeur on what it will take to attain true economic redress, redress wherein lands stand front and centre and not a tactical means but the last frontier that marks liberation.

Mbeki continues to state, “Put simply and directly, the decision taken by the ANC at its December 2017 54th National Conference on ‘the Land Question’ raises the question – whom does the contemporary ANC represent, given its radical departure from historic positions of the ANC on ‘the resolution of the National Question’! It may very well be that that the ANC leadership is perfectly capable of answering this question in a satisfactory manner. “

To, therefore, play adjudicator and ask who does the contemporary ANC represent is as rhetorical as asking who did the ANC that was forced-fed GEAR and ASGISA etc, represent? Who did the ANC that relaxed laws to see major divestment when in democracy concessions were made for apartheid companies like De Beers, Old Mutual etc under his watch to move SA earned wealth to foreign stock exchanges in London etc?  Or will Mbeki tell us Gear, ASGISA were tactics and did not engage the central holy grail of non-racialism as he now makes of the land question?

Perhaps the biggest error Mbeki commits is his choice to think of the ANC as an organisation in exile. He denies the ANC its natural character of being a living organism that must engage its environment. To pretend the ANC remained static in its persuasion on a score of things that details its raison d’etre  is not hear Neville Alexander when he pleads for a new vocabulary for describing things (and I include people): “…societies and the global village have changed so radically that to continue to analyse and describe things as though we were still in 1848 or 1948 or even 1984 is to be woefully blind and self-defeating.”

Mbeki, therefore, is oblivious to the fact that beyond the original composition of who the ANC represented at Waaihoek in Bloemfontein, it has evolved to become the poor that a Zuma presidency became sensitive to and showed a grasp to realise where the ANC’s future lies. It’s therefore, not wrong to talk of an ANC which was originally for the elite with the attainment of a negotiated settlement ultimately in democracy evolved into the ANC for the poor and black masses essentially; we know that from what we spend on social development from the fiscus on a daily basis.

According to Mbeki, Jacob Zuma was advancing a perspective about ‘the resolution of the National Question’ radically different from the long-established a historic position of the ANC, which he led at the time.

I concur with Mbeki that ‘the ANC must fully discharge its responsibilities on the Land Question as our country’s governing party. In this regard, it must explain in public and in detail what it intends to do relating to all major issues relating to the land. My agreement emanates from the fact that the ANC has failed to act in the interest of the masses that keep it in power, in delivering a coherent plan to actualise redress of land ownership. The ANC is engaged in double speak in its attempts to be apologetic because it seeks to be looking for a win-win situation of deal-making. The ANC must ask itself as to how it may have concluded to strive for land ownership and in the same breath advocate for a sensitivity of the apartheid economy. Less in a choice of agricultural land and or urban land to be expropriated, but to know 72% of all land remains the in unequal ownership of apartheid and colonial beneficiaries, and that is the result of a negotiated settlement.

We thus summarise:

  1. We must ask Mbeki where and in what forum were South Africans afforded space to engage this categorical multi-racial identity claim he so glibly claims? We also need to know where is the evidence that a former president can claim South Africa in democracy accepted the doctrine of race for South African identities? If the president can show us we may take him more seriously, because the record shows an ANC-led government  – despite many of us protesting this race means for identity configuration – refused to listen and continues to believe it knows what a multiplicity of races looks like. Mbeki in honesty will have to admit this race doctrine for identities was wholly and uncritically appropriated by democracy.
  1. Mbeki’s handling of the subject of land in this epoch and his lens for interpreting where we find ourselves postulates a claim that blame for an apparent deviation of ANC fundamentals must necessarily be laid at the post-Mbeki leadership. One of his cornerstone beliefs is the ANC until his period of leadership that came to an abrupt halt in September 2008, was on the right path in honouring of the ANC of Seme, just not the one of Lembede.
  1. Throughout this his expression of a necessary and timeous contribution to solicit an ANC statement on land, we find Mbeki uses the interplay of “indigenous”, “Africans” and “blacks” in a symbiosis of convenience less in corroborating his claims of usage or in clarification for his foothold. This is a common thread with Mbeki not just as limited to this reflection, but throughout the better part of the nineties.
  1. Mbeki’s pleading for an ANC to remain true to its founding strategic ethos which he claims had been the case for 105 of its 106 years of existence, leaves a chance to ask what this means in a society where the reality dictates a failed economic transformation for the masses in which land stands central?  Let us not forget Malcolm X reminded us the revolution was always about the land.
  1. A cardinal critique I continue to have for Mbeki in his non-racial doctrine is his natural acceptance of ‘race’ as the correct means for South African identity formulation. Mbeki does not question or challenge the construct of race, he does not pay any due deference to the fact that race is and remains a debunked scientific notion that continues to exists seventy years on purely in social constructionism. Meaning it was birthed by a society in an epoch which remains questionable for another society who may have developed the tools to appreciate humanity outside the frame of its highly carceral nature.  Maybe he must hear Deborah Posel again, when she reminds us all, “The architects of apartheid racial classification policies recognised explicitly that racial categories were constructs, rather than descriptions of essences”.
  1. Mbeki’s paradigm race is a benign innocent construct that is contaminated by racism, meaning he does not appreciate that race is and remains the product of a racist mind.
  1. Mbeki’s defence of the constitutional democracy as uniquely ANC’s original thought and premise is not without challenge. It may be a useful means and tool of noble attempt to define the ANC and South Africa, yet there are those that argue the ANC had no clue what a constitutional democracy was and how it would function. Maybe Mbeki can explain why Van Zyl Slabbert in his book “Duskant die Geskiedenis” argues it was up to Professor Marinus Wiechers to help and explain to the ANC leaders the idea of a constitutional democracy.
  1. It is therefore rather expedient for Mbeki to – in broadside sense – want to red-card his elected successor Zuma as having attempted to supplant the SA constitutional democracy for a parliamentary democracy. We must ask did the ANC in 1912 and throughout ever define this constitutional democracy for SA that it today defends as if it birthed it? There are those who argue the idea of a constitutional democracy despite its egalitarian expressions became a useful and very effective means to contain how and what type of transformation will be attained. It by extension underscores the challenge of a negotiated settlement for the fact that it inadvertently guaranteed the oppressor his right of identity however that is defined while it equally explicitly for 25 years underscores the plight of the oppressed, colonialism and apartheid victims.
  1. May we remind Mbeki it was none other than him as he in soberness of mind, so we believed then, pressed by the undeniable reality of the moment to observe the true state of a South Africa beyond its glades, mountain peaks, pristine coastlines, fauna and flora and a wildlife second to none in juxtaposing that to the ruthless and crude ugliness of an endemic racist economy that underscores white wealth and black poverty.  He was the one that told us we live in a black and white South Africa where white means advancement and wealth and black has a signpost of poverty and squalor.
  1. While Mbeki, speaks of a non- racial society as the fulcrum focus of an ANC original intent, he does not explain why the non-racial, 25 years since a 1994 and its preceded CODESA engagements, wherein this season there is  consensus that the National Party outfoxed the ANC and left the table with much better a deal than the ANC led negotiators, content is not yet filled. Mbeki has never attempted to fill that non-racial with content because the day he may attempt to do so without annihilation of race, which he uncritically has come to accept as means for the social identities of South Africans. As with his use of African in the frame of the National Question, Mbeki is super lite on content for the African because anytime you want to use African for more than geographical spacing you expose yourself to get twisted in your own confusion.
  2. Mbeki must be held accountable less for his astute intellectual mind, but for remaining one who gets away to thrust subjects (African, black etc) in conclusiveness upon SA, without ever explaining or being open to being engaged on the constructs he uses.
  1. Mbeki’s epistemology has either developed or should we accept regressed to conclude whatever we need to do is at the privilege of capital. We must, therefore, have to bow to capital if we hope to have our land back because its role is so dominant that our fate is dependent on such.
  1. Mbeki laments and advocates for a win-win situation for SA, one where the poor and the wealthy feel they both have one. It is this form of misconception of deal-making that has come to define the ANC that proves problematic. Liberating of the masses cannot be reduced to a win-win deal making frame.

Can someone tell Mbeki that the poor will never be satisfied for as long as the wealthy have their wealth unfettered in birthright claim?

Blacks however defined will never be okay to be black if whites own the means of production and they must remain at the mercy of that in the form of a win-win situation claim. To arrive at the current imbalance of land ownership and economic inequality participation there was no deal-making. Land was taken and done so not to appease anyone but those who took it. The ANC is not advocating for an eye- to an eye but it is emphatic that land will be taken, and that cannot translate to a denial of the existence of apartheid beneficiaries, but its natural next stop in this arduous journey of liberation. There needs to be no apology expected or proffered, neither can this be deliberately confused in fear-rhetoric as a deviation from the liberation ethos.

To pretend the poor can be seeking to be directed by a misguided pietism of selflessness where they can be politically free but economically oppressed and bereft of land ownership and define that as a win-win is the thinking of someone who is a benefactor of the imbalance. To achieve this the state has an undeniable role to play.

  1. Mbeki attests a convenient mind on what the ANC has become that is oblivious and negates the role that capital played from the time poor ANC leaders had their personal homes, children’s school fees and annual holidays paid for as bought by capital. The same capitalist society he defends in claims of we must resign ourselves to the fact that the national democratic revolution cannot occur without the role of the entrenched capitalist of a special kind in SA. Mbeki is still busy trying to rewrite history and wants to apportion blame for land, be it in agricultural or urban, on a new ANC, one he easily wants to define that emerged with his departure. Mbeki, therefore, tells us land return to the masses must be a win-win deal with the same colonialists and apartheid capitalists. He advocates there will be no land redress without capital agreeing to it. In a nutshell, it is in the hand of the capitalists and beneficiaries to again determine the economic fate of the landless masses. How can this be correct?

Clyde Ramalaine

Political Commentator and Writer

Nene is gone! Creecy and Mashatile – choices present caretaker Ramaphosa with a conundrum

South Africa had two Nene moments in the last almost 36 months. In November of 2015, former president Jacob Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene from leading the treasury, he had assumed that role since he as deputy succeeded Pravin Gordhan. When Zuma fired Nene and momentarily appointed Des Van Rooyen, all hell broke loose and Zuma was forced by every power that defines colonialism and apartheid and their benefactors within and outside the ANC to part with his decision. The campaign against Zuma’ s decision led with a charge of South Africa having lost billions because of this decision to have Nene removed. A fully-fledged campaign was launched to tell South Africans that the country in regard to its economy must be restored back to before the Nene moment in 2015. It has therefore been the overarching mission to bring SA back to a prior November 2015 ‘Nene moment’.

We did not have to wait long for that, when the new ANC president and current caretaker President of SA, Cyril Ramaphosa announced his maiden cabinet he restored Nhlanhla Nene to this post when Malusi Gigaba was dropped. It is clear Ramaphosa did not do any due diligence on Nene.

It is October 2018, we are having another Nene moment, brought about due to his own confessions before the State of Capture Commission in which he details his non-disclosure of having had seven meetings with the now leprous Gupta family. Don’t forget, in SA’s new discourse if you remotely had interacted or engaged with the Guptas’ shadow you are leprous and must be quarantined, but you can meet Rupert, Oppenheimer, Koseff, Watson or Joffe every day and you are naturally extended a clean bill of health because SA remains what it is, a nation in the grip of historical political and continuing economic white power. Nene is virtually history, and Ramaphosa is about to make an announcement on his choice to lead Treasury, he has to in any case announce his first cabinet reshuffle, since the ANC and SA lost its Minister of Forestries, the unique Edna Molewa who was also laid to rest this past weekend. Nene, therefore, is history; the interesting question is who will replace Nene? Before we deal with the advanced candidates, that apparently depicts the binaries of black and white in this instance let us engage a history of Treasury appointments from the dawn of democracy.

In order to appreciate this replacement question, it becomes important to contextualise the ministry of Treasury, which details from the beginning of democracy a strange phenomenon. If we ask when did Treasury become such a powerful unique ministry, we may be mistaken to assume such timing. It then becomes important to ask who did Mandela as the first SA president in Democracy appoint? Well, when Mandela, the icon for many, put his team together to lead SA into what we all hoped as the start of comprehensive transformation, it was not an apartheid classified African, Coloured or Indian he appointed.

South Africa’s first Minister of Finance, Derek Keys, a politician by profession who served from 30 August 1931 – 29 April 2018, was in effect and truth apartheid’s last minister of finance. Keys served in both De Klerk and Mandela’s cabinets respectively from the periods of 1992 to September 1994.

Given the fact that Mandela’s cabinet was a result of a negotiated settlement, we can easily accept that the position of treasury became a negotiated deal. We also can now accept that the appointment of Derek Keys came from a strong lobbying of the economic interest role players who had abundant access to influence, if not direct Mandela’s choice.  One sometimes involuntarily wonder what the State of Capture, had it in terms of reference been extended to inculcate this era, would have made of the many meetings Mandela had with among some Clive Menell, Harry Oppenheimer, even a Douw Steyn and who knows else.

The idea of the Treasury is a special ministry that needs to be guarded more than all was borne from this racialised thinking, where whites are trusted to do a good job of finance and blacks not. The ANC back then already it appears, lacked the trust in self to appoint somebody who did not share the denotation of white as predetermined by colonial and apartheid illegitimate regimes.

When Derek Keys fell ill and was relieved in September 1994, Mandela with another opportunity to prove transformative failed to heed that, he instead took refuge in appointing a banker, the Nedbank executive Chris Liebenberg, who was appointed Minister of Finance of South Africa and served from 19 September 1994 to 4 April 1996.   Since Liebenberg was not a member of any political party, accommodating him in Mandela’s cabinet warranted the amendment of the constitution. All this time the ANC saw nothing wrong to argue a rationale for economic transformation with treasury as the driver, it accepted Mandela’s second choice against transformation without any question or critical reflection.  Was this the evidence that even the ANC did not believe in itself or the apartheid oppressed identity to be capable to lead Treasury?

Later on, Mandela appointed Trevor Manuel, effective from 4 April 1996 he served in that office until the start of the 4th term in May 2009. Even when Manuel was appointed by Mandela at the time it was with a proviso that Chris Liebenberg hangs around to hold Manuel’s hand for a six-month period.

This suggests the ANC from Mandela lacked the confidence and presence of mind to be decisive in positioning treasury at the forefront as a toolbox for transformation. It instead appeared willing to accept that it collectively lacks the ability to lead treasury and that apartheid whites were skilled at that.  For some, Manuel’s appointment as a novice on many scores and surprisingly, also in a mellifluous sense, was an appointment of another ‘white ‘identity, because he was mistaken to either be English or Jewish purely on his external appearance. (South Africa is, unfortunately, a country where one still gets tagged by looks to determine one’s identity)

Treasury under Manuel, who remains the longest-serving finance minister in democracy, became a formidable force and the groundswell that gradually assumed the character of a superior-ministry, when it under Mbeki was allowed a sense of free-will to lead in initiating and implementation of policy decisions that resulted in a softer ear for white monopoly capital, overseeing gratuitous outflows of capital. We lived through an epoch of several drops in exchange rates for import duties, concessions on allowing corporates such as Old Mutual and many others to leave SA and list on the London Stock Exchange. It didn’t take long for the historical, political and ongoing economic powers to settle into an acceptance of Manuel, who nowhere threatened the status quo of economic disparity but sought to maintain the status quo under the guise of stringent fiscal discipline ethos as the totality of what came to define Treasury in democracy.

Economic transformation was sacrificed for a need to appease the World Bank and biased rating agencies to prove SA as masters of fiscal discipline, which became the so-called success story of the Manuel and Mbeki years. Aided by a global booming economic period, what Manuel did at Treasury became the standard for SA and it didn’t matter to the ANC that economic transformation was not realised. Instead, BEE policy – pollution, where a handful of connected individuals, their families and circle of friends benefitted, became the defining architecture of a claimed successful economic transformation as managed by Treasury.

The ANC again failed to develop a coherent plan and, in the deficit of clear intent, to use Treasury as a means to a necessary end. Those who will defend Mbeki will say that he did exactly what you’re protesting the ANC failed in, with his intentions for BEE, but the reality details that under Mbeki we had GEAR and ASGISA and they produced nothing for the poor but continued the perpetuating of a protection of the interest of apartheid beneficiaries. Instead of overseeing aggressive economic transformation where the masses benefit, the managing of SA indicators in compliance to international western powers, unapologetically aligned to white interest, became the central focus for this ministry while it now mushroomed into a superpower-ministry claiming a   legitimacy because it maintained stringent fiscal discipline. Mbeki, therefore, kept the Finance Minister of Mandela’s GNU cabinet.

Fast-forward to a post-Manuel period, Pravin Gordhan the pharmacist who also was a Manuel protégé, was appointed by Jacob Zuma with the advent of the 4th term in May 2009 and he remained that until May 2014. You will recall how Manuel and Gordhan’s appointments were interpreted as non-Nationalist stances, where these whom apartheid did not classify as African were favoured at the expense of what apartheid defined as African. Commentary ran wild that the ANC continued its now tradition of mistrust of the African identity to lead this ministry. In a sense, what Mandela started with as a forced or lobbied Keys appointment, his later choice of Liebenberg who was to hand-hold Manuel who despite his, for some, white physical trademarks out of a known history, remains classified by apartheid as Coloured. Manuel was succeeded by Gordhan whom apartheid declared an Indian, it, therefore, meant, if Apartheid’s race classification identities had served this office, it was favouring three dominant classifications (White, Coloured and Indian) with a glaring absenteeism of the apartheid African identity. Having an apartheid classified identity to lead Treasury did not happen until 2014.

It then came as no surprise that the time had come for apartheid’s African identity to fill the position, given the ANC’s national question on identity that delineates an African in particular and blacks in general notion. given the ANC’s national question on identity that delineates an African in particular and blacks in general notion.  Zuma’s choice was a much-reported advent when Nhlanhla Nene was appointed at the inception of the fifth term in May 2014, and many buoyantly declared him SA’s first true African in charge of Treasury. Some of us vehemently protested this claim because we already had a Manuel and Gordhan who were just as African.

Nene is releasing himself this week making it easy for Ramaphosa to decide on his new finance minister, so we assume. The question becomes will it be easy for Ramaphosa and who are the contenders? Will Ramaphosa return to the pressurised ‘logic’ of Mandela or will he continue to let the apartheid African identity stand, which his predecessor in three instances opted for with Nene, Van Rooyen and later Gigaba?

The contenders we are told are Gauteng ANC MEC for Finance, Barbara Creecy and in internally veiled but increasingly more vocal sense, ANC Treasurer Paul Mashatile. The debate on the next appointment comes clouded with a floating gender subject matter that some seek to make the epicentre. I will dare to dismiss this as frivolous because the ANC as an organisation has long fulfilled its own set-out obligation to have gender parity. Bringing gender into the fray may very well be, at this stage, a pure deflection. Creecy has led the Gauteng Treasury and is a candidate because she runs the biggest budget of SA’s provinces. She also is a candidate because she has continued to run Gauteng with the template of fiscal discipline as the overarching theme.

When it comes to a budget that practically depicts transformation for the poor Gauteng stands accused of neglecting its poor. The current challenge in apartheid spatial communities of townships as understood on the diaphragm of racial classification, for example, the Coloured communities are not devoid of its claims of this ill budgeting on the part of Creecy and her Gauteng ANC leadership. To corroborate this assertion against the Gauteng ANC and its MEC of Finance, Barbara Creecy, we can hear the October 7, Media statement of the #TotalshutdownofGauteng update. It reads, “The Gauteng Shut down Coordinating Committee (GSCC) met with more than 12 Communities, today, representing the Voiceless so-called Coloured people of to plan a sustained offensive against the State who consciously decided to exclude us from the country and provinces purse.” [sic]

Nothing can be clearer than this that the GSCC group red-cards the Gauteng province on transformation. While Creecy may have proven strong on fiscal management, she must own up to a budget that does not accommodate transformation if this statement is taken for what it is. On the other hand, we know that Paul Mashatile, the current ANC Treasurer General is pushing from inside in a strange twist of events to unify the position of Treasurer General of ANC and that of SA Finance Minister. The apparent logic for this claim emanates from what he and others advance as most liberation movements who end up leading nations they freed to have their party Treasurer Generals serve as Finance Ministers. On another score, it is also claimed that fusing these two positions may take the ANC out of its own financial predicaments, whatever that may mean and however that may be defined or by whatever means we do not claim to know.

The choices before Ramaphosa with Creecy and Mashatile appears to straight-jacket him into the choice of appeasing the never gratifying interest of white monopoly capital, who will naturally be satisfied by a Creecy presence in that space. Unfortunately, the lines are long drawn and often depicts a simplistic binary of white preference to what is black for this office, at least as seen from corporate SA. Therefore, a Creecy appointment may regain Ramaphosa some ground that he definitely had lost with white voters with his recent noises on land expropriation, who at first glance considered him the second coming of Mandela, even draping him in now vaunted ‘ramaphoria’ kaftans.

The contest between these two has another dynamic to it. Remember Barbara Creecy spent the balance of her political life as a provincial backbencher. It is, therefore, Mashatile that brought her into a sense of MEC limelight. She thus owes allegiance to him for that. Is this Mashatile’s means to get a hold of the SA treasury?

Either way, Mashatile stands to gain because his protege Creecy if successful will have it difficult to forget it was Mashatile to whom she owes gratitude.

This makes Ramaphosa’s choice even more complicated. Ramaphosa must also provide reasons why he is letting Nene go for mere meetings since he cannot fault Nene on work delivered. Should he decide to hold on to Nene he runs the political risk of being touted a weak leader who supports Gupta capture.  He also will have to explain why he wants to fire anyone else in his cabinet who have been associated in meetings with the leprous family of SA business the Guptas.

Yet, Ramaphosa is also pressured to reward Mashatile who vociferously campaigned for him as a CR17 hardliner, critical in pushing fronts to have him earlier installed and deliver the SONA, despite Ramaphosa’s publicly stated transition comments that engaged a process. Mashatile can claim he is owed and if the ANC Chairperson Gwede Mantashe was rewarded with a plush cabinet posting, why can he not be equally rewarded. Yet Ramaphosa knows that daring to appoint Mashatile will run the risk of delegitimizing his claims of hoping to have a ‘clean team’, whatever that may mean, or as it is often claimed, to keep Treasury pure from essentially Gupta influence. You can bet your bottom teetering Rand that as soon as Ramaphosa awards Mashatile, the same media will unleash every claim, real or fake, in an apparent closet that Mashatile has been tagged with over an extensive period of time. White monopoly capital will never trust Mashatile to lead South Africa’s finance ministry; we know that they do control Ramaphosa’s choices no different to how it controlled Mandela’s choices for the office of Treasury.

This Nene moment proves interesting because he is not tagged for having done a bad job, he is tagged with the convenient leprosy of Gupta association. Nene is history because he went to the now leper’s colony and is contaminated, it has nothing to do with his abilities to run treasury or not. In fact, in this silly season, it does not matter, as long as you have not been to the leper’s colony (Gupta’s) you are clean and ready to serve.

One can only wonder why and how SA arrived at this convenience of capture blame in Gupta association when Rupert, Oppenheimer and all others summoned ANC leaders to their houses and instructed them on choices. Remember how Fikile Mbalula was summoned and instructed by Johan Rupert as per Gayton McKenzie’s book, “Kill Zuma by any means”

Ramaphosa is caught between a rock and a hard place if it is about these two choices. If its Creecy, he will continue to ostracize himself from those whom he relies on to make his caretaker role a permanent five-year term. He will be accused as winding the proverbial clock backwards in white trust as exclusive for the treasury ministry. His choice for Mashatile will put him at war with those who do not trust any apartheid African leader in the made-hallowed office of Finance Minister. Mashatile will be attacked from every corner in the media.

Whatever Ramaphosa’s choice, he is facing a form of a Rubicon with this appointment, since reappointing Nene was easy because the anger of those who hated Zuma afforded him to make that choice, less in rationality but in political savviness, as the one to fix his predecessor’s mess-up.

Tonight, he is confronted to make a choice, that may confirm his Mandela aspirations even in fault lines or his choice to continue what his predecessor Zuma started, to make the ministry equal to all where anyone and definitely an apartheid classified African can lead. Ramaphosa must choose carefully because his personal political career is again on trial with his choice for SA’s next Minister of Finance. He is still dealing with the crisis of illegitimacy and remains mistrusted on many fronts.

He en-route to May 2019 elections days is still dealing with the crisis of legitimacy and remains mistrusted on many fronts, choosing his next finance minister may prove more challenging than what meets the eye.

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

Political Commentator and Writer

Did Ramaphosa play Russian roulette offering Treasury to Jonas, others and finally Mboweni


South Africa has a new Finance Minister, no it is not Barbara Creecy, Paul Mashatile or Mcebisi Jonas. It is none other than the old hand Tito Titus Mboweni, democracy’s first Labour Minister, later the first black Governor of the Reserve Bank. Mboweni told the media that he only received the call from SA caretaker president, Ramaphosa at around 9 pm on Monday night October 8. “In the wake of Mr Nene’s resignation, I have decided to appoint Mr Tito Mboweni as the Minister of Finance with immediate effect. As the former governor of the South African Reserve Bank and, before that, Minister of Labour, Mr Mboweni brings to this position vast experience in the areas of finance, economic policy and governance” [sic]. These are the exact words Ramaphosa used in making his announcement of the next finance minister.

It must then mean that the President by finally calling on Mboweni and getting a yes, ended his Russian roulette expedition. We learn from the SACP and COSATU, that they were consulted in the choices of the President to arrive at the final choice for a Mboweni. We must, therefore, surmise that the names bandied around were also consulted by the Tripartite Alliance. What does that mean, did the SACP and Cosatu disapprove of the touted Creecy, and the Mashatile bandied names?

It did not take long after Nene appeared before the State of Capture Commission, for the media, opposition parties and a section in the ANC to bid for his head. The dust did not settle on his confessions when names were bandied around. Leading the preferred nominations were Gauteng ANC MEC of Finance, Barbara Creecy who was touted as the next minister.

While we may not know who exactly introduced her as a candidate it caught on quickly and by the time the weekend papers hit the shelves, Creecy looked a concluded choice. The possibilities for her candidacy may have been the work of strong campaigners that define the economic interest with white as the dominant theme. It may also have come about from the presidency’s very active public relations as a means to test the public on a possible woman and white future finance minister. We also learnt about the veiled candidacy of ANC Treasurer General Paul Mashatile where the apparent rationale led that other liberation struggle movements fused their treasury general positions with that of their country finance ministers.

We know that Ramaphosa did not have Mboweni as his first choice he apparently offered the same post to the controversial former deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas. Jonas by his own admission claims to have declined the offer. Jonas with this decline must have made history, not only was he as he questionably claimed offered this position firstly by a Gupta brother whom he is not sure, the same who threatened him with murder. The second time in this season by a caretaker president Ramaphosa. This coveted job, Jonas declined now twice.

What then does it mean, or how then can we interpret the President’s finance ministry offer to Jonas? Does it mean the post of finance minister, became a trading mechanism where several people may have been approached as offered to a number of people among others Jonas and on Monday night to Mboweni who accepted the offer? While we not privy to how the actual secret meetings for choices of this nature are arrived at, one may deduce that the president applies his mind, as advised by those whom he trusts most. Ultimately the president takes a decision to approach candidates who have the option to either accept or decline.

What we can accept is that since Nene’s confessions and awaiting his offer to resign, Ramaphosa compelled by his constituency base was looking at individuals that may fill this post. We also know Ramaphosa stands accused of not having done any due diligence on Nhlanhla Nene, the appointment of the latter to Ramaphosa’s maiden cabinet confirms the intention was to restore SA’s economy to the first Nene Moment of November 2015 less driven by sensitivity or the abundance of caution to be endorsing Gupta corruption. Had Ramaphosa done his due diligence on Nene he may not have arrived at his first finance minister decision.

Ramaphosa either was misled or made a conscious popular choice that would define him as the opposite of his predecessor thus fixing the November 2015 Nene Moment. It may have been a purely political choice definitely not with state capture as a focus to be dealt with. Therefore, when Ramaphosa tells us today his choice to accept Nene’s resignation is in the interest of clean governance we know we must take that with a teaspoon of salt. SA’s caretaker president must tell us where his moral conscience on the specific Gupta corruption was back in February when he made his maiden cabinet choice for a Finance Minister in Nhanhla Nene.

What do we make of his Ramaphosa’s consideration of Mcebisi Jonas? Why then would Ramaphosa have offered this post to the controversial Jonas? His decision to make the offer to Mcebisi Jonas may have been fuelled by the very same group that makes up a very significant Pravin Gordhan and other others who are connected to the hip to the former deputy minister, Jonas. What form of diligence did the President consider in his choice to make this offer? Why would the president against publicly known information, the tagging of alleged ECDC corruption, and later the Mandela Funeral scandal on Jonas still be that obnoxious to offer him the control of the South African purse? Maybe the fact that Jonas is a member of the SACP, the former worker’s vanguard, but increasingly a cabinet guard of democratic ANC led presidencies.

What then do we make of Mboweni’s acceptance of the offer? Is the choice for him an authentic Ramaphosa choice? We know the president must own his decisions but we have seen how a starchy, strained and unhappy Ramaphosa in February announced a cabinet that appeared not his. Looking at all the candidates we must ask were any of these be it Creecy, Mashatile, Jonas and finally Mboweni authentic Ramaphosa choices? Those who claim to know argues Ramaphosa does not make the decision of his own he goes with the dominant advise or lobbying group.

Tito Mboweni is a very active member of the social media fraternity and has over time made many social comments, as is his right, that may posit him more controversial than what meets the eye. Mboweni is considered by some an affable character, yet others consider him somewhat attention seeking, one not shy to tell you where he is hanging out and one that does not shy away from advancing his views often in a claim of seniority with claimed ‘professorial’ attire.

We remember how he came to defend the SARB in its current status and how he vociferously defended the present ownership of the SARB. Often these spirited defences come meshed in a conflation of institutional and personal legacy threat. Mboweni also dared his public views on the ANC presidential contests between Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Zuma. For the record, Mboweni was more in support of having Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for the position. Mboweni in February made it categorically clear that he was not available for the post of Finance Minister with the following posting, “Against the wisdom of my Team, please don’t tell them this. It’s between us, I am not available for Minister of Finance. You cannot recycle the same people all over again. It is time for young people. We are available for advisory roles. Not cabinet. We have done that”

When he is today announced as SA next finance minister, it may speak of a sense of pragmatism on the part of the SA caretaker president, for appointing someone who did not support his candidacy.

We know he is considered a market-friendly appointment. In a space where this latter part of the fifth administration as led by Ramaphosa is obsessed with foreign investment drives, it becomes imperative to inspire confidence for the rest of the world that South Africa a stable investment destination. Mboweni becomes that neutralising figure to assist global investment communities that SA is a safe destination. The announcement of his appointment saw the highly sensitive SA currency somewhat stabilising, meaning the markets were not too shaken by this appointment, neither were they extending and overall confidence.

His past experiences in particular as South Africa Reserve Bank Governor for the period since 1999 to 2009, coupled with his private sector identity as one who is chairing several boards among other Nampak, He serves as a non-executive director for South Africa at the New Development Bank (BRICS Development Bank. Mboweni’s also serves as international advisor of  Goldman Sachs International.

Mboweni naturally is a safe choice for those who prognosticate the doctrine of an SA that must submit to a globe where it needs to toe the line if it desires foreign investment to be made. This means he is not any threat to the prevailing status quo of a known racialised economic disparity that 25 years in democracy continues to militate liberation and true emancipation of the black masses. Mboweni will, therefore, do little to change the status quo.

On the 28th of April Mboweni shared with the social media world his analysis of what he termed three urgent tasks for the National Democratic Revolution in South Africa. His views as captured, “1. The State must own 40% of all mining companies. This is easy to do. 2. The State Must create a Sovereign Wealth Fund for future generations from mining dividends. 3 A State Bank must be created URGENTLY” [sic]. Since his views as uttered here are not yet publicly altered since it first appeared, the questions South Africans want to know is, how will he actualise the above, or was its mere political banter?  Will he also betray the poor who share these sentiments?

On another score, in a season where Nene was pressurised to resign, ostensibly not for any wrongdoing in either of his two stints but for admitting to meetings with the Guptas, can we accept that Mboweni never met the Guptas or anyone in capital active in state capture on both sides of the racial economic divide? Are we to surmise that he visited no secret bosberaad, no golf weekend or a cruise ship or some powerful economic persona’s house? He also may not have, in the words of Minister in the Office of the SA president Bathabile Dlamini, any ‘smallanyanskeletons’ in his closet as to whom he met.

Don’t forget Ramaphosa was at pains to tell SA that Nene did nothing wrong, this begs the question so why he was then offloaded by the one who told us he did nothing wrong?? Yet you hear Ramaphosa say he made this Mboweni appointment, “in the interest of good governance…” Shall we allow Ramaphosa to get away with his usual doublespeak? I am no Nene fan since his dealings at the PIC and that of his son’s role in a Mozambican questionable oil refinery transaction, whom Weekly Xpose in May 2017 was the first to raise when the entire mainstream media had no interest in leaves much to be desired. However, we are told by Ramaphosa he has done nothing wrong at treasury according to the SA caretaker President but is offloaded for having had meetings with SA’s at the now leprous colony of the Gupta family hence treasury must be quarantined and Nene is leprous now.

In this regard we must say congratulations to the new SA finance minister, Tito Mboweni, he is finally in the post he in another season felt aggrieved and hard done by when he was overlooked by Mandela who opted for Trevor Manuel who was considered less educated for the job. At the time he was reduced to a Labour Minister position. Let us hope his radical social media posts on a need for nationalisation, an EFF – initiated fund, the establishment of a state bank will not also make him a weekend minister in this post when the media turns against him. We will now see if you were merely showboating with your running commentary when capital long ago declared that controversial and pure populist rhetoric. Will you now toe the line? Or will you dare to use treasury for the toolbox it can be to assist if not lead in transforming the economy from its racialised reality that depicts the binaries of white wealth and black poverty?

On a personal note, Tito, remember your boss makes decisions heavily influenced by public relations. He saw the touted Creecy and more veiled Mashatile options and was fortunate to have Mcebisi Jonas decline because he was convinced neither of these would have worked. You also know you were not his first choice for the post, he approached others who declined it, he reconsidered others and became swayed they were not good choices based on unsolicited and solicited advice he received.

Did Ramaphosa with his many offerings to others before Mboweni play Russian roulette with the post of Finance Minister? Your guess is as good as mine. Wishing you all the best but we will keep your feet to the fire

In closing what has become of this position, that many do not want it? What has happened in the political and economic environments of a South Africa that this highly coveted job of Minister of Finance appears not wanted by many in this season? Since even the one that finally accepted it made public his views that he was not available for the position. When did this position become such a poisoned chalice? It appears no one really wanted the job. Is it fair to conclude that Mboweni became the last choice of desperation? Mboweni therefore in the tradition of the octogenarian Job Mokgoro‘s appointment to the office of the premier. Mboweni becomes the retired player, one who declared himself not young and if appointed a definitive recycled one, who in the twilight of his career is brought to fulfil a reserve player role. What is clear if nothing defined Mboweni’s true legacy this chalice he accepted will do so.

What did Ramaphosa have to offer Mboweni whom we all know was a reluctant one for the job?

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

ANC is on trial and faces annihilation at hand of state capture political campaign

Yes, the ANC is on trial, and teetering on annihilation at the hand of a political campaign of state capture!

Is the State of capture Commission, backfiring for those who called for it?

Two months since the first sitting of the State of Capture Commission led by DCJ Zondo on the 20th August, the nagging question as to who is on trial is becoming increasingly more pronounced. Is the ANC on trial with this commission is the question?

We will recall when the idea of the ANC on trial was first mooted, how ANC presidential spokesman Zizi Kodwa questioned the assertion. It increasingly appears the ANC may just become the biggest loser. The ANC and its tripartite alliance members are the core focus for this conveniently structured term of reference, that has nothing but the Guptas as the core focus. The divisions of the ANC are no more camps but jagged edge gaping cliffs where there are no winners and certainly losers.

There was a hush in the atmosphere when Nhlanhla Nene became the first pressured victim of the Gupta obsession for state capture claims to cave in. Extending Ramaphosa an opportunity to gain some brownie points, Nene was not what you would call the natural guilty one, he was not mentioned as one of those who has been tarnished in SA discourse with a Gupta association. Nene for all intents and purposes was originally identified as one of the ‘angels’, a victim and hence marked for those who are apparently against capture.

Nene was fired this week, not because any court or even the very commission found him guilty, Nene was fired because the rule of the media has supplanted the rule of the law. Nene is today jobless and he was sent away by a caretaker president who was at pains to tell SA from one corner of his mouth Nene did nothing wrong while the other corner of his mouth belaboured the firing as in the interest of clean governance. We must tell Ramaphosa you cannot have it both ways, what shall it be? This while the ANC’s official statement sings Nene’s praises for offering to resign.

South Africa’s last ballot-elected president, Jacob Zuma, warned SA, ‘beware those who shout state capture, they will regret it.’ How prophetic these words have become? From the start, some of us who have never bought into the media-created crime of state capture argued this is a political campaign where some have identified a political relevance and means to secure power. When we raised this fact, it was never to condone or deny any form of corruption anywhere or by anyone, corruption which we know is rife across the three tiers of government in cahoots with private sector entities is endemic in SA.

The sexy well-publicised term of state capture offered many who are trapped in factional mindsets a golden opportunity to settle personal and camp scores with those whom they have been at loggerheads.

It is here that the greater spotlight on the commission confirms glaring contradictions with the commission. Firstly, the commission is entertaining witnesses and accounts of people who were fired from a cabinet, these are naturally aggrieved and, in this season, seek to settle a score with whoever fired them. We saw this with Vytjie Mentor, Mcebisi Jonas, James Maseko, Nhlanhla Nene; we will see it with Barbara Hogan and Pravin Gordhan, possibly even Ben Martins etc. Meaning an ordinary hiring and firing of cabinet members or senior officials as the constitutional prerogative of an SA president in this season has found accidental (or is its orchestrated) relief in this commission as a belated arbitration on labour disputes.

An interesting development no sooner has Nene been fired, and a chorus of scripted unified voices began to bay for the blood of a hand-selected group of cabinet ministers to be fired too. One can appreciate how thick the boundaries in ANC factionalism are drawn when you read Tony Yengeni’s tweet, ‘I suspect all WMC pawns must have been summoned to Skelmbosch on Sunday and the ganja that were given to smoke was mixed with a very strong and dangerous cocktail. All of them are parroting the names if Malusi, Nomvula and Bathabile without fail.” [sic]

A second emerging problem with the commission is that it lends itself to be an institutional space that is open for anyone to use and by extension abuse for their own cynical purposes. It thus becomes a space that naturally accommodates ANC factional fights to be played out in real time of soap opera drama against the backdrop of a judicial commission. It legitimises the ever-entrenched factional frames of the ANC where the contest is for control of an ANC that at the same time is ravaged by the very contest.

It may be that the chairperson’s begging for the public to participate inspired many of these testimonies. While the commission is yet to prove state capture, the damage has been done at least for some because the media drives this commission.

The commission by design and default affords space, time and place where individuals in the frame of a media crafted angels and demons of ANC leaders can be eternally tarnished. Regardless of how the commission may accommodate an opportunity for cross-examination, the damage in a very biased SA discourse despite the opportunity for cross-examination remains. In South Africa a week is a very long time for the jolts of incidents that daily loads our national discourse. In a drama-filled and event loaded week, we saw, Nene firing, a VBS Bank Heist report, and now a Blade Nzimande fired plausible implicated in Gupta meetings and loans. The VBS Bank heist that implicates the EFF member Brian Shivambu none other than the younger brother of the EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu. Whom it is claimed have benefitted to the extent of R16-million from the VBS scandal. Shivambu is loud on the Guptas and yet it looks he too will be made to hang in due season. We also learnt that Floyd Shivambu received R10 million of the R16million his brother is said to have received.

As if the VBS bank heist story was not enough, news broke yesterday of a set of leaked questions raised by an independent journalist directed at a very vocal and anti-Gupta protagonist. We not sure who has leaked this. There are those who argue, the questions were leaked by the Nzimande cohort and supporters as a means of counterattack and to garner sympathy. The questions are categorical for it asks poignant crystal clear questions that easily should be answered for anyone who has nothing to hide. Instead of Nzimande responding to the questions he opted to repeat what Ramaphosa did in 2017 when the same newspaper’s editor sent a set of questions on a slew of infidelities. Nzimande threatens with court procedures. Nene for offering to resign has become a standard demanded from all those implicated in corruption with the Guptas as centrifugal force. As the campaign to have targeted individuals like Malusi Gigaba, Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane removed, the tide is turning where known protagonists defined in SA discourse of angels are becoming the real casualties. It will be very difficult for Nzimande to make the case to stay on in this cabinet if the questions can be corroborated as fact. State capture the campaign then appears to have the reverse effect.

We also learned that the Barbara Hogan testimony necessarily slanted to prove Zuma guilty, has been postponed because Hogan has submitted two separate accounts. She was at pains to inform the media that they must wait to see who all are implicated.  Earlier we saw how ANC DSG Jessie Duarte spared no imagination when she came out guns blazing in categorically naming Pravin Gordhan as the one behind a personal attack on her seeking to smear her. We also have heard that the ANC SG Ace Magashule, when pushed to venture an opportunity on the commission categorically state he will be happy to appear before the commission since he has much to share on those who are captured by white monopoly capital and its non-gratifying desire to control the ANC.

Ramaphosa is under enormous pressure from his CR 17 hardliner constituency base and even those whom he seeks to win over to relieve the earlier mentioned cabinet ministers. Yet Ramaphosa’s work in this regard is made less easy when he had to relieve Nene. Thabang Makwetla for his BOSASA corruption allegations, possibly a Nzimande and who knows else. Will there be any member of cabinet left when the files on individuals in this regard are made known?

The puppet masters for the propagated claim of state capture as directed itself to the media-made ‘demons’ of ANC leaders, simply did not factor in that anchor witness Mcebisi Jonas will be unsure of who offered him the R600-million bribe, they did not budget that Mentor would prove this unreliable a witness with her being challenged by Mantashe, Kaunda and Duarte. Those who shouted state capture thought it would be easy to prove their enemies guilty, and did not prove cognisant that a Nene an ‘angel’ will admit his many meetings with the Guptas. They simply didn’t factor in the SACP’S Blade Nzimande facing accusations of having benefited from Gupta relations and associations. The proponents for an undeniable presence of state capture didn’t budget that Thabang Makwetla, Vincent Smith and others would be accused of corruption at the hand of lusty Bosasa, a company which has gained billions in contract value from the state purse. Is the state of capture backfiring on those who prognosticated it as the unfettered gospel?

The commission is earmarked to sit and conclude with a report by March 2020, this gives ample time for more factional fights, self-interest, denigrating others which defines the ANC firstly on trial with this state of capture investigation and secondly teetering on obliteration by the very testimonies of individuals, even political parties and tripartite alliance partners, that confirm an organisation torn to smithereens from within, aided by this commission.  It is not cynical to surmise that this commission may just become the single process that annihilates the ANC. We know it continues to divide the now endemic factional groups where ANC unity is a forlorn mirage.

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

Who’s the boss?



Boone Pickens as far back as 1928, on leadership, told us “be willing to make decisions, That’s the most important quality of a good leader. Don’t fall victim to what I call the ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome, you must be willing to fire.” SA may for the first time have a president who despite appearing the avuncular and affable ever-smiling guy, is yet to convince us that he is making his own decisions and leads from the front.

It does not look like SA’s caretaker president enjoys making his own decisions or that he is willing to make his own decisions.  It appears he prefers to have others make the decisions and he is comfortable to be led by those.  It seems we have in the words of Pickens a ready-aim-aim-aim president that allows others to lead through my office – syndrome.

I have consciously decided to refer to the current SA president as a caretaker president for two primary reasons. One, while SA may have a president finishing off the last months of a fifth Administration, the last ballot-elected and trusted the president of South Africa, remains Jacob Zuma. It is for the same reason I have never regarded Kgalema Motlanthe as an elected president of SA despite a constitutional frame. Secondly, it increasingly looks like the current SA president does not take his own decisions regardless of how unpopular these may be.

I am still waiting to hear what singular authentic decision SA’s caretaker president has taken in the last nine months. It does not have to be a correct decision, it just needs to be an authentic Cyril Ramaphosa decision for which he stands up and can irrevocably claims was his alone.

Tracing back a litany of critical decisions since and before the ANC’s 54th Conference followed by the current SA caretaker presidency one quickly sees an emerging trend. Herewith some – definitely not an exhaustive list of – core decisions that have come to define the last nine months of this caretaker presidency of SA.

  1.  When his alleged infidelity scandal broke last year, Ramaphosa after his failed attempt to use the courts to block the INL publication and his midnight confession to the Sunday Times, vowed to speak to SA on the subject matter. Shortly thereafter, he abandoned his own word and commitment, when he in a twist of events told South Africa after engaging a crossbreed of Northern Cape ANC leadership and COSATU among others he was advised not speak to SA anymore on the matter. Clearly, this was not an authentic Ramaphosa decision but that of others.
  1.  The idea of a new deal, as an economic solution for SA, while promoted by Ramaphosa was claimed emanated from the Democratic Alliance philosophy of economic solutions. Ramaphosa stood accused by both the opposition parties, the DA and EFF, as having stolen without acknowledging the DA’ s input. On the other hand, he was equally accused to articulate economic solutions from the mind of Stephen Koseff.  His economic solution thus in the height of his campaign for ANC high office, came accused as not his at all.
  1.  Abandoning the agreed transition in February was not his decision. We know this since Ramaphosa in the week leading to that repeat of a 2008 wrong decision of the NEC informed SA how smooth the transition was going between him and his predecessor former president Zuma. We know that he met with Zuma on Thursday of that week and they were still on track. By Sunday he, led by the CR 17 hardliners, now came with a demand of an immediate resignation as the only means to navigate SA’s future. I leave it up to you to figure whose decision that was. Clearly not Ramaphosa’s.
  1. Delivering SONA 2018 therefore by extension was not his choice or decision, he was told he will and must deliver it and with this solidify his position as leading both the ANC and SA. Again, the CR 17 hardliners led the decision-making on this score.
  1. His maiden cabinet, which he must own up also was not his, his starchy face on that night confirmed it. It showed and we know he, hours before announcing it, attempted to change some names since he after consultation beyond the ANC top six was advised by another group of constituencies to offload Malusi Gigaba, Nomvula Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini. Ramaphosa’s face in that 10 o’clock at night address, said it all. He was delivering a decision that was not his.
  1. Returning twice from foreign missions to attend to local “crisis” moments were not his decisions either but that of his now known overdrive PR outfit led by Steyn Speed.  How can we forget how Ramaphosa abandoned his Davos trip, seeing him flying back as a crafted fire-extinguisher to deal with a protracted North West ANC and premier crisis?  The latter was resolved weeks later.
  1. Attempting to wrestle the subject of a land debate from those who had controlled it in the ANC was not his. In a break with ANC practice his unconventional midnight show post-Lekgotla was also a PR action, less his personal mind but that of those who have been telling him, you need to take this space from those who control it in the ANC.
  1. The rushed and ill-advised decision of tying up a struggling Eskom into the alternate energy contracts: that it is claimed that this, while it may benefit Ramaphosa’s Shanduka Holdings business that has an interest in this sector, may not have been his decision either.
  1. Hitherto failing to engage a set of detailed questions sent to him on his role or absence thereof on the ‘Coloured boys of Bird Island’ saga, which dates back to an era when he served as the ANC Secretary General of ANC.  He has remained silent. Is he silent because the president was told he must be silent? Despite TMoSA Foundation’s official communique to the president and his office acknowledging receiving the request, Ramaphosa hitherto has given no reply. Is it again a case of the advisers deciding, when perhaps Ramaphosa’s moral conscience may have attempted to prevail in the necessity of response? Is his confirmed lack to even utter one word in support of the victims a political decision? Who decided on that, if so?
  1. Going to Marikana which is a long overdue imperative for Ramaphosa, who for some despite Farlam’s hashed job of a commission remains directly linked to the massacre of 44 lives in that dreadful week in August 2012, is yet to be actualised. Despite the many opportunities Ramaphosa were presented with, he has been delaying, in what some claim is him dancing around the issue. Ramaphosa at some stage was going to go with the late Mother of the Nation Winnie Mandela, yet it never materialised. When the EFF leader Malema accosted him in parliament on this subject matter he as always said he will go and even invited Malema to go along with him. It is as if Ramaphosa is waiting for a perfect moment to show up to claim a hero status instead of prioritising the agony and plight of the families of the 44 victims. He had many opportunities – he occupied the second highest office in the last five years, now nine months as SA caretaker president he is still not showing up. It appears his stage-played attendance must come with some ‘Christmas lucky packet’ that will immortalise him as the hero and not the humble servant who is prepared to face the insults and abuse of those who keep him directly responsible for the darkest hour in our democratic sojourn

This nagging indecisiveness fueled by perpetual political climate assessments                       saturated in public relations intended exercises say more of how Ramaphosa lacks             the grit to make his own decision and act them out regardless of the consequences.

Marikana’s victims need not a president to visit them with an entourage but the                 man who was a director of Lonmin at the time, the same one whose emails                           demanded concomitant action. Marikana needs an ordinary human being to come             and say unreservedly sorry, not a veiled apology that seeks to benefit politically                   from his eventual visit when the ballot is the target. Exactly whose decision is                     Ramaphosa’s absenteeism at Marikana and its victims?

  1. Those who know claim the current temporal so-called financial rescue package relief was not Ramaphosa’s either. We know this since we were told that some high-powered Treasury-based individuals were occupied in an attempt of developing a response. Yes, Ramaphosa announced it, but it was not his leadership, ingenuity or foresight, it was as always, an advised response.
  1. Appointing the new Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, was equally not his decision. We know he offered the first job to the very controversial Mcebisi Jonas. The most recent appointment of SA’s latest finance minister,  Tito Mboweni, for all intents and purposes, remains a last-ditch decision when Ramaphosa appeared to have played Russian roulette in offering among others Mcebisi Jonas, who declined, as is claimed, the offer. Mboweni by his own admission received the call at 9 pm on Monday night.  We may, therefore, conclude that Mboweni was not Ramaphosa’ s first or outright choice and not Ramaphosa’s decision. Ramaphosa appears to have settled for Mboweni who was recommended by an advisory group.
  2. It can be argued the idea of an economic summit of consultation was not his idea either. The African National Congress under its subcommittee chairperson of Enoch Godongwana has over the last decade dismally failed to present a coherent economic plan for South Africa. The 2018 SONA address became what some of us as commentators defined a ‘kick for touch’ address on the critical matters of economic solutions and sustainable jobs. Ramaphosa outlined and told us of a litany of summits; to be delivered among those is an economic summit. The problem with the SA economy is not just its paltry growth statistics but its structural challenges. It goes without saying that finding an economic solution for the man who was marketed by white monopoly capital as the SA economic messiah, ought to be a priority, and the easiest way to approach it is to grasp for consultation as a means to find such solutions.
  3. Those who know argue that the idea of a job summit recently entertained was not his but that of his advisers. Given SA’s many conflictual and competing challenges, it goes without saying that key among the issues SA is dealing with and has to deliver on remains sustainable jobs. A job summit was therefore proposed as a means to this end. That job summit is and remains the playing ground of a colloquium of role players made up of government, business and organised labour as main players. The summit took place a week ago and we have yet to see what this will deliver because a comprehensive and coordinated strategy that harvests definite results is yet not a reality.
  4. Engaging the SARS commissioner debacle, Ramaphosa, as advised, opted to have two processes i.e. the Nugent SARS governance and tax administration inquiry and the disciplinary investigation. Both these processes have the fundamental aim to find against the SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane to have him relieved of his duty. This strategy and tactic with the aforementioned central aim is critiqued by some as a political strategy of ambivalence. Is it again the fancy footwork of the advisers
  5. The media created ‘secret meetings’ among ANC present and former leaders that claimed a plot to oust Ramaphosa despite its many challenges, became a useful political tool for Ramaphosa to test the balance of forces in the ANC. He was silent on it because he, having stood accused in another season as a plotter against Mbeki, knew this was a crafted exercise bereft of true content. Yet Ramaphosa, buoyed by his erstwhile constituency of historic organised labour and more recently the SACP went to the Cosatu elections and dared to share an opinion on secret meetings and plots. Clearly, this constituency and its leaders demanded a response from Ramaphosa of that nature and he yielded to that. In that sense Ramaphosa’s response to the media-fabricated ‘secret meetings’  was not his but what his constituency wanted.
  6. The latest lack of decision-making on the part of Ramaphosa follows that he has extended an invitation to a number of legal organisations and other independent public institutions to assist him in identifying and selecting individuals for consideration as possible candidates for the position of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP). This panel is to chaired by Minister Jeff Radebe who will be tasked to identify, screen and shortlist three candidates for final consideration. In typical Ramaphosa style, he seeks to make the appointment a collective decision and therefore lacks the grit to make his own decision as with so many other things. Clearly, the outcome will be a person that was recommended – hardly a Ramaphosa decision.

Leadership, as Pickens taught us, means take your own decision, stand and fall by it regardless of how unpopular it may be for some. Leadership means leading from the front, not constantly asking for the views of others, as a means of claiming transparency, when all this indicates is the adopting of others’ views as your own. Providing you with an option to, later on, claim “I was advised on my choice” meaning “it was not really my choice”.

Of course, I get it that consultation and perceived transparency constitutes core parts of leadership. I also get it that the SA’s caretaker president is at pains to be perceived as a consulting and transparent president, yet that cannot become an excuse for failure to lead in making core decisions of your own. This fuels the crisis of legitimacy and trust Ramaphosa consistently finds himself in en-route to a May 2019 national ballot.

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

Political Commentator and Writer