The strategic president who must not do like Nero

2018-06-16 17:04

Often, President Cyril Ramaphosa is denigrated by his adversaries and fellow citizens as being a political chameleon. This condemnation stems from the perception that he sat back and watched as the country was being systematically dismantled, brick by brick, by that family that has since been declared outlaws. None of his adversaries knows for certain if he was just watching it happen.

This matter was discussed by masters’ students at a certain university during a module on strategy. The strategy professor, who has since left for Dubai, told the students that the then deputy president was employing “emergent strategy” and was not necessarily a political chameleon. South Africa was burning and the country was increasingly falling under the radar of international rating agencies.

In principle, an emergent strategy is one that materialises over time. It is unplanned, a response to threats and opportunities and challenges. The threat was the then incumbent, who seemed clueless about running a democratic state. The opportunity was the chance to effect change and stop the rot. The challenge was that the country was sinking into an economic morass.

The emergent strategy, coupled with Ramaphosa’s yet-to-be researched strategy of plan, attack and retreat, seems to be righting the wrongs of the past nine horrific years. This seems to be working wonders for the incumbent. The rot runs deep and what the president should not forget is that he must gain the trust and confidence of his deputy so that, together, they can steer the state machinery in the right direction. It will take time, but it is doable.

The president should use these strategies to systematically attack the ills of the past, including corruption, nepotism, collusion and crude theft in the public and the private sectors. With his deputy in tow, Ramaphosa should give law enforcement agencies teeth to tear into the flesh of society’s ills and hold those responsible to account. Given the tendency to leak confidential information, such strategic sessions should be attended by people who have signed an oath of secrecy.

Hypothetically, the president could unleash the Hawks on the Northern Cape’s department of education to scrutinise the supply chain division. After two weeks, they can swoop on the Limpopo department of public works and infrastructure to scrutinise the human resources division and verify if all those working there were employed through proper procedures.

To silence internal rumblings in the governing party that the president is targeting provinces that did not support his ascendancy, he should extend the same strategies to provinces and municipalities governed by the opposition. Unleash the Hawks on the “cleanest” municipality in the Western Cape. After a week or two, he should do the same at the most “rotten’’ municipality in South Africa.

When citizens see the president correcting the wrongs of the past, officials in the public and private sectors will think twice before they steal, collude or hire unqualified relatives. Over time, these strategies might get South Africa on to the right path.

He should be careful not to appear as a modern-day Nero, who twiddled his thumbs while Rome was burning – as seen by his passive response in North West, which remains premier-less weeks after the incumbent took “early retirement”.

What is equally disconcerting is the political situation in the ANC-run province along the coast. You have certain “amandla priests” who issue all manner of threats to the governing party’s leadership. One illiterate “priest” has issued a statement that, if the leadership does not come to support his favourite former president at his court appearances, the priest will withdraw his vote for the governing party at next year’s elections. Maybe president “thuma mina” should dispatch that minister who threatened to pick up the rand to tell the “amandla priests” and their congregation to keep their dirty votes.

The editor wrote that the former president of the republic threatens its stability with his utterances. Others have said that the former president is a chess player. Perhaps the former president should be reminded that, if President Thuma Mina puts KwaZulu-Natal under military quarantine, he and his chickens won’t even manage to go out and buy chicken feed.

Legodi is a City Press reader.

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