Ramaphosa’s empty promises: Can he be trusted? – Ivo Vegter

President Cyril Ramaphosa pledges to elect trustworthy leaders in future ANC elections, yet his track record suggests otherwise. Despite promises of “renewal” and a “new dawn,” little change has occurred within the party. ANC’s failure to fulfill 2019 election promises, including crime reduction and job creation, undermines Ramaphosa’s credibility. Ramaphosa’s true goal appears to be maintaining ANC unity and power, rather than addressing corruption or delivering on promises.

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By Ivo Vegter*

Ramaphosa promises that the ANC will in future elect leaders who will not steal from the country. He’s lying.

‘Going into these elections, we are going to elect trustworthy leaders, leaders who will not steal the government’s money.’

So said president Cyril Ramaphosa, according to a translation of a campaign speech made by television station Newzroom Afrika.

There’s a whole lot to unpack here.

Ramaphosa has been president of the country since February 2018. This promise implicitly concedes that to date, the ANC has elected untrustworthy leaders, who did steal the government’s money.

When Ramaphosa talks about the ANC Renewal Project, we are meant to understand that this rehabilitation is what he means.

But he’s like an ex-convict who swears high and low that he’s found Jesus and will never so much as look covetously at someone else’s Toyota Corolla again.

‘Renewal’

Ramaphosa also promised ‘renewal’ when he first came to power, before the national election of 2019.

‘Renewal’ and a ‘new dawn’ were major themes in his very first State of the Nation Address, given just one day after he assumed the office of the president on 15 February 2018. (Unlike many, I didn’t believe him then, either.)

The notion of ‘renewal’ goes back even further, to the ANC’s 5th National Policy Conference in mid-2017, when it was declared ‘an absolute and urgent priority’.

The question then is where is all this renewal? With a few exceptions, the same faces are in charge of the ANC today.

‘I have seen nothing that has changed,’ said chief justice Raymond Zondo, who led the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, in June 2023.

The ANC has not updated its website dedicated to renewal since 2019.

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Implicated candidates

In March, the ANC expressed grave concern over the fact that its candidate list had apparently leaked from the Independent Electoral Commission. The media, however, expressed concern over the fact that multiple politicians implicated in the reports of the Zondo Commission appeared on the list.

And while the ANC integrity commission said that almost 100 people ought to be excluded, among them Malusi Gigaba, David Mahlobo, Zizi Kodwa, and Cedric Frolick, all four of these unworthy leaders, and most of the others, remain on the ANC’s official candidate list.

In short, Cyril Ramaphosa lied.

The ANC has no intention whatsoever of electing ‘trustworthy leaders, leaders who will not steal the government’s money’. The ANC intends to elect exactly the same people who looted the state in the first place.

The wave of prosecutions that Ramaphosa promised back in the ‘new dawn’ days, the ‘thuma mina’ days, has not happened. Corruption remains routine, writes Carol Paton, ‘as Cyril averts his eyes’.

And what more could we expect from the guy who chaired the ANC’s Deployment Committee while he served as Jacob Zuma’s loyal deputy?

Ramaphosa’s lies are intended to convince what remains of the ANC’s support base that if they just vote ANC once more, and give it one more chance, this time it will be different.

It won’t.

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Promises broken

In April, AfricaCheck did a useful assessment of the ANC’s 2019 election manifesto, to see whether or not the party had kept its promises.

It promised to ‘increase police visibility in our communities by increasing the number of men and women in uniform’.

It didn’t. On the contrary, both the number of total employees, and the number of visible policing officers in the SAPS declined.

It promised to ‘ensure the reduction of crime, especially violence against vulnerable groups’.

It didn’t.

The murder rate for both women and children, as well as the overall murder rate, increased between 2019/20 and 2022/23.

It promised to ‘increase the levels of investment by R1.2 trillion over the next four years’.

It didn’t. Although it raised about R1.5 trillion in investment pledges, only a third of that turned into actual investments.

It promised to implement a national minimum wage.

It did, but it left out a majority of the people earning below that minimum wage, and the government itself, through its Extended Public Works Programme, routinely pays workers much less.

It promised to implement the national health insurance.

It didn’t. The bill wasn’t even signed into law.

It promised to establish a sovereign wealth fund.

It didn’t. With what money? All the money that might have been taken from taxpayers to stuff a government slush fund had to be donated to bail out criminally mismanaged and hopelessly over-indebted state-owned enterprises.

It promised to create an additional 275 000 jobs every year.

It didn’t. Only about 300 000 jobs were created in total between 2019 and 2023.

Admittedly, the Covid pandemic was the great driver of disemployment and later re-employment during this period, but it is telling that the ANC has now taken to promising not ‘jobs’, but ‘work opportunities’.

These largely consist of temporary and part-time unskilled jobs that pay well below minimum wage and will have limited effect, if any, on the economy’s long-term ability to employ more people productively.

In summary, virtually all the ANC’s election promises from 2019 were broken.

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Lies

Given this dreadful track record, why would anyone now believe Ramaphosa when he promises ‘we are going to elect trustworthy leaders, leaders who will not steal the government’s money’?

The ANC has been promising ‘renewal’ since before Ramaphosa even became ANC president in December 2017, let alone president of South Africa. Ramaphosa himself has been promising ‘renewal’ and a ‘new dawn’ since his maiden speech in 2018.

He has spent five years making promises, and keeping hardly any of them. He has proven incapable of standing up to the ANC’s National Executive Committee, and incapable of making the hard decisions that a putative renewable project would require.

Ramaphosa hasn’t even had the guts to expel Jacob Zuma, his predecessor and the arch-villain of state capture, from the ANC, even after Zuma became the face of the newly founded MK Party and started to campaign against the ANC.

If not ‘renewal’, or any of the niceties he promises the public, what is Ramaphosa’s true goal? That is simply answered.

Ramaphosa’s true goal is first of all the unity and political survival of the ANC, in service to his ultimate objective: the incremental implementation of the National Democratic Revolution.

He couldn’t care less about corrupt cadres, or about being honest with ANC supporters or South Africans at large. Power is all that matters to him. For power, he will, and does, say anything.

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Ivo Vegter* is a freelance journalist, columnist and speaker who loves debunking myths and misconceptions

This article was first published by Daily Friend and is republished with permission

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