Voices

Don’t hold your breath. Ramaphosa will not rescue the ANC

2017-12-08 01:49

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

As the country prepares for the ruling party’s national conference next week, many have suddenly developed amnesia.

The ANC finds itself in the same situation it was in 2007 Polokwane conference.

Just like Zuma at the time, Ramaphosa is likely to become an accidental ANC president.

This is because many people who will be voting for him are people who hate Zuma more and not people who believe in him as a leader.

In fact, Ramaphosa’s election as deputy president was accidental because he was not the first choice – Kgalema Motlanthe was.

Many South Africans are currently talking about state capture, and at the centre of it are the Guptas and Zuma.

This narrow narrative of state capture is disingenuous and far more dangerous because it gives the false impression that our problems will be solved if we get rid of Zuma and the Guptas.

Ramaphosa can be located at the centre of the current economic challenges faced by many South Africans – poverty, unemployment and inequalities.

He’s one of the Black Economic Empowerment elite benefactors who made billions at the expense of the poor South Africans.

This will be no doubt the battle of captured and captures; there are no holy cows.

After the unbanning of all political parties, Ramaphosa became the ANC’s first secretary-general at its first congress in 1991 in Durban, a position he retained again at the 1994 congress in Bloemfontein.

The ANC power play was always between three groups: the “prisoners” and the “exiles” were the two most prominent and powerful groups within the ANC, and they believed that the country owed its liberation to them.

Ramaphosa belonged to the “inziles”, the term used to describe those who fought the apartheid government head-on from within the country through various activities and structures.

It was not surprising then that when he wanted to contest for the presidency in 1997 against Thabo Mbeki at the ANC congress, which was to be held in Mafikeng, he didn’t get any support.

Mbeki was the son of struggle stalwart Govan Mbeki and was very close to the longest-serving ANC president, Oliver Tambo, and he spent years in exile as well.

Nelson Mandela wanted to avoid the perception that the ANC presidency was a sole preserve of the Eastern Cape.

He took over as the president from Oliver Tambo from the Eastern Cape, he was from Eastern Cape and so was Mbeki.

Mandela would have preferred Ramaphosa to succeed him, but because of the dominance of the two groups in the ANC (the prisoners and exiles), he was convinced to support Mbeki.

Ramaphosa felt so aggrieved that he didn’t even attend the inauguration of Mandela as the first black president of the country.

Mbeki was elected unopposed and Ramaphosa went to “business”.

Ramaphosa went back to rekindle his relationship with mining companies. He started as National Union of Mineworkers general secretary from 1982 to 1991, a position he relinquished when he was elected the secretary-general of the ANC.

He became one of the benefactors of Black Economic Empowerment deals, a scheme that was designed to entrench the stranglehold of big business in the economy by frustrating small and medium enterprises – using powerful politicians like Ramaphosa to protect their interest.

He’s been flaunting his wealth, rubbing it in the faces of the poor.

He’s called “Mr Buffalo” because he once bid almost R20 million in an auction, a clear indication of how completely out touch with realities of poverty facing millions of South Africans he is.

Under his government, where he’s currently serving as the deputy president, 30.4 million South Africans are living below the poverty line, the unemployment rate is at 36%, the country is losing more than R30 billion a year through corruption and maladministration, and the gap between rich and poor is widening.

In 2015, Zuma put Ramaphosa in charge of the state-owned enterprises. Under his watch, looting has been happening at an alarming rate without a word from Ramaphosa.

During the Nkandla scandal, he defended Zuma in Parliament on numerous occasions when many of us expected him to be the voice of reason.

But more disturbing is his role in Marikana where 34 miners were killed by police when they were protesting for a wage increase.

Ramaphosa, a shareholder in London Mine (Lonmin) issued an instruction to the police and mining ministers at the time, Nathi Mthethwa and Susan Shabangu, for police to deal with the “situation”.

He characterised the strike as criminal activity.

Ramaphosa is a capitalist who pretends to be a communist or socialist. There isn’t a single socialist bone in his body despite his history as a trade unionist.

The irony and the dilemma for Ramaphosa will be to fulfil the expectations of Cosatu and the SACP who are now supporting him because of their hatred for Zuma, the same scenario as Polokwane when Zuma was supported by these organisations because of their hatred for Mbeki.

It is also worth mentioning that Ramaphosa is where he is by accident.

None of his comrades trusted him until the 2012 congress, when he became a viable option to contest Motlanthe who turned the Zuma camp down for that position and opted to contest Zuma for the presidency instead.

So Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma might be bad because of her association with Zuma, but those who think Ramaphosa will rescue the ANC must think again.

This is déjà vu. We were here before and history is repeating itself.

If he succeeds in becoming the ANC president, people must not hold their breath because they will suffocate.

This will be a very short honeymoon for him and the ANC.

We will be watching with a keen interest the events unfolding between December 16 and 20.

Bonginkosi Madikizela is Democratic Alliance leader in the Western Cape

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December 17 2017