🔒 Ramaphosa caught between a rock and a hard place – The Economist

There is no doubt that President Cyril Ramaphosa is fighting a relentless propaganda war and that his enemies within the ANC have found the axe to wield their blows in the shape of Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, which is ironically the same axe that the anti-Zuma faction employed to reveal state corruption and the Nkandla scandal. But the new holder of the position is a different kettle of fish. In another reversal of roles, Julius Malema who sided against Zuma, now bats for the Zuma-Magashule camp and supports Mkhwebane in her efforts to deal out blows to Ramaphosa and the constitutionalists. With Mkhwebane on the ropes as the Constitutional Court has branded her as a liar, it seems as Max du Preez writes in his latest article in Vrye Weekblad, that Malema and ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule are now openly working together as they get more desperate. Malema dragged former Minister Derek Hanekom, another constitutionalist into the fray saying that Hanekom colluded with the EFF to get rid of Zuma. This weekend the ANC’s National Executive Committee is meeting as Max du Preez writes, it remains to be seen whether Ramaphosa is going to try to throw oil on troubled waters or whether he will draw a line in the sand to end the faction fighting in his organisation. As The Economist points out in this article, the internal divisions in the ANC are preventing Ramaphosa from delivering on his promises of a New Dawn in South Africa. – Linda van Tilburg

By Thulasizwe Sithole

In an article in The Economist, the magazine writes that it has been another bad week for Ramaphosa as his enemies are “undermining his administration.” The magazine refers to Ramaphosa as an avid cattle breeder but in the past week he must have felt that “he has rarely dealt with so much bull as in recent weeks.” The latest accusation of the Public Protector that Ramaphosa violated the constitution by deliberately misleading Parliament is a “grave allegation’. Should this have merit, it would undermine the New Dawn that Ramaphosa is trying to achieve following the “kleptocratic rule” of Jacob Zuma for nine years. The Economist says the protector’s arguments are “flimsy”; they should be considered as a “broad assault by Mr Ramaphosa’s enemies.”

The accusation against Ramaphosa relates to a payment of R500,000 from Bosasa to Ramaphosa’s eldest son, Andile. The Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane unearthed evidence of the payment and challenged Ramaphosa in Parliament to set the record straight. The Economist says the president “could have gone away and check the facts. But he did not.” Ramaphosa responded that he knew about the matter, had spoken to his son who assured him the money was for legitimate work. The President even said that if this was not the truth, “he would take Andile to the police himself.”

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“Both Mr Maimane’s question and Mr Ramaphosa’s answer were based on a flawed premise.” Andile was contracted by Bosasa, but the payment was not to him, it was for Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign at the ANC’s national elective conference. Ramaphosa said later in a sworn affidavit that he did not know about the donation until he was enlightened by an aide. This was after he left Parliament. Earlier Ramaphosa declined to be informed about donors “to avoid a potential conflict of interest.” His next statement in Parliament was to correct what can be seen as an honest mistake.

The Economist says South Africa law governing campaigns is “opaque” and it puts Ramaphosa in a bad light that his team took money from Bosasa and “would be naïve to think that Andile’s surname did not help him to get jobs.”

The magazine however says that the Ombudsman’s claims that Ramaphosa deliberately misled Parliament is without concrete evidence. She contradicts herself by saying he acted in “good faith.” It was criticised by law professor Pierre de Vos as a “legal and factual mess.” It is currently under judicial review.  This The Economist says, is not the first display of the Public Protector’s incompetence. “Courts have taken issue with Ms Mkhwebane since she assumed office in 2016.” The Constitutional Court found that she had lied under oath and acted in bad faith in a case involving the Reserve Bank. The ombudsman has a track record “ineptly” the authors say of targeting Ramaphosa and his allies while being “soft on his enemies.”

Added to Ramaphosa’s woes is Zuma and ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, described as his henchman with his history of allegations of corruption who is trying to get rid of Ramaphosa to thwart the president’s efforts to turn a new leaf on corruption. “Mr Zuma… may be hoping that having an ally as president might shield him from prosecution relating to 783 counts of fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.”

The Economist points to the fact that South Africa’s economy shrank by 3.2% in Q1 and the distractions launched by internal opponents is preventing him from fixing the country’s economic issues. “His record continues to be one of overpromising and underdelivering, exactly what his enemies want.”

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