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CAPE TOWN — Strapped by his Zuptoid-compromised presidential power and rendered mute by his obligation to hold an irredeemably-split party together, President Cyril Ramaphosa cannot currently promise voters a post-electoral cabinet and parliamentary clean out. Under unprecedented pressure from the Gangster State book revelations claiming party-wide contagion, damning commission revelations and calls by its own party elders, the SA Council of Churches and Alliance partners to fumigate its tainted electoral list, the ANC doggedly maintains that it’s turned a new page. For sober analysis on this, there are few better than Professor Susan Booysen, Director of Research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection. She wonders aloud here what damage the ‘Ace-Guard’ could wreak, post-election. Here are some pursuant voter questions; can you gamble on Cyril risking huge party disruption with a long-awaited clean-out and prosecutions if the ANC wins a clear majority? Or do you vote tactically for a completely new opposition coalition, or the weaker adjustment, an ANC/DA alliance? Failing a Cyril clean-out, the Zuptoid faction could rebuild toward a 2024 return to the ramparts of corrupt power. That’s a death-defying roller coaster ride nobody wants to contemplate. Hence the Ramaphoria. Story courtesy of the Daily Maverick. – Chris Bateman
Operation Rescue Ramaphoria – and the ‘other game in town’
By Susan Booysen*
First, there are the rules of being the virtuous new ANC, persuading the electorate that the transformed party deserves another round of electoral endorsements.
The second set is about getting the electorate to believe that voting for a candidate list that includes many tainted Zumaist figures (or new guard names with soiled records nevertheless) will produce the new ANC. The ANC integrity committee is about to take another look at the list, but is it water-treading to get the party across the finish line without having changed it?
Third, the ANC is playing the rule of assuring the electorate that the corrupt guard is really a bunch of good people who look bad only because of enemy propaganda. Part of this rule is to tell the electorate that a book (a.k.a. Gangster State) that comes with 28 pages of notes and sources is “false news”, and that judicial commissions of inquiry, with detailed, first-hand statements delivered under oath, are just opinions.
At times this game suggests that a period akin to the times of #ZumaMustFall is upon us. In that stint, citizen mobilisation converged with enclaves of intra-ANC consciousness to end (that phase of) state abuse at the hands of Zumaists, and others. Then there were flashes of Ramaphoria, muted subsequently by the realities of the “zebra” factional alliance, thanks to the ANC’s Nasrec Unity Accord. Cyril Ramaphosa became the owner of a highly circumscribed, factional victory. The decay of Ramaphoria advanced, while in the minds of many of those who fight for ANC electoral survival it is still present; the first set of rules still works for them. The ANC’s possible May election victory depends on it. War-room troops work to slow down contagion. They have to counter the worst of the immediate problems – the ANC’s contaminated candidate list, and the string of “killer” allusions that threaten to push the ANC below 50%, especially those implicating ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule.
The ANC elders have emerged with a critique of the electoral list, imploring the ANC to do better. Alliance partners called for the tainted ones to recuse themselves from the list. The South African Council of Churches added its voice. The ANC National Executive Committee has intervened with low-velocity action, suggesting that the NEC is only up to “low-intensity warfare”. They try to build popular trust that the ANC is a responsive, accountable, democratic organisation, which listens to the people (the first rule set) – rather than one that manipulates and manages people into giving porous electoral mandates (sets two and three).
The task of rescuing Ramaphoria was complicated vastly with the launch of Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s Gangster State, at the most sensitive of moments in the election campaign. Swathes of new material confirm the continuous dark side of the ANC. The manuscript bears reminders of how much of the abuse of public position and resources is still under cover. The book hints at stories that make grotesque Gupta capture appear like the tea party edition of how not to govern. The manuscript warns, in effect, against believing that the Gupta variant was the pinnacle of what can go wrong.
The 300 pages condense, among others, the ongoing mystery of the murder of Free State government official and clean governance figure, Noby Ngombane; give further graphic details of the construction of the Gupta power networks; and details of the gunning down of Igo Mpambani, linked to the Free State government’s shady deals. The common denominator, somewhere in the plots, is Free State mogul and ANC kingpin, Ace Magashule. Magashule, as ANC Secretary-General, is probably the most important counterfoil to Ramaphosa in the post-Nasrec ANC. As a full-time ANC employee, he is not on the candidate list, but many of his associates are. Judged by the Maharani plot, September 2018, this is a player who would not hesitate to lift Ramaphosa from power should the opportunity arise.
This leads into questions the ANC has to answer before it asks the voters of South Africa for electoral validations. Can the ANC, this ANC, guarantee that people or cadres like Ace Magashule and those beholden to him (across the ANC, not just in the Free State) will not rule the ANC in days to come, and dictate to the government in the next five years? Can the ANC guarantee these persons will not be deployed to influential positions come the announcement of Parliament and Cabinet? Even worse, what damage can the Ace-guard wreak if they are “left behind” at Luthuli House while others take their seats in Parliament? They could rebuild the ANC, in their own image, gun for power in the 2022 ANC internal elections and, somehow, win Election 2024. DM
- Susan Booysen is Director of Research at Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (Mistra) and Visiting Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand.