RW Johnson on CR’s myopia; Russian interference in 2024; alternatives to ANC/EFF (IFP anyone?)

Another sublime contribution from South Africa’s foremost political scientist RW Johnson. The historian, author and former Oxford Don expands on a BizNews Premium column where he called out SA presidential myopia with the looming “nightmare” scenario of an ANC/EFF coalition running the country after the 2024 Election. Johnson looks at Rob Hersov’s efforts to get the Rainbow Coalition back on track – and explains in some detail why South Africans should be prepared for interference by Moscow. He spoke to Alec Hogg of BizNews.

Timestamps from the interview:

  • 00:51 – Is South Africa still heading into an ANC/EFF coalition come 2024
  • 04:10 – On his most recent article
  • 08:52 – Rob Hersov’s initiative to try and get all the members of the so-called Rainbow coalition party together
  • 11:15 – His thoughts on Frans Cronje’s Social Research Foundation findings
  • 12:50 – Why Russia could potentially be involved in the outcome of the elections
  • 16:57 – ANC/EFF coalition and what it means for investors
  • 19:10 – On a possible IFP/ANC coalition?

Extracts from the interview with RW Johnson

RW Johnson on South Africa’s trajectory toward a an ANC/EFF coalition come 2024

It does look as if the ANC is heading towards that. It’s obviously their key fallback and the EFF is making as much noise as it can to show that it’s sharing the same attitude towards Russia and the Ukraine as the ANC, which is a strong signal to the Russians that they are an acceptable coalition partner. The point that I was making really is that an ANC/EFF government is hardly a viable option at all, because given the extremism of the EFF platform and their record already, I mean, in various ways. Both in the sort of thuggery and violence and very violent rhetoric and even, getting involved in bank theft is such that I think it would immediately trigger a flight of capital and financial panic. And this would destabilise the system very quickly and in the longer term if they really did have such a government that would go on and get worse. And I think very quickly the situation would simply run out of control of the Treasury and the Reserve Bank and we might well be forced into an emergency deal with the IMF or whatever. 

Read more: Premium: RW Johnson – How CR’s myopia could leave SA with the worst of all post-2024 worlds.

But I simply don’t think it’s a viable option. The problem about it is that it’s being looked at in a very parochial way by ANC people who would find it easier to do a deal with the EFF because they’re all African nationalists together. But that’s not really what counts in this situation. And of course, it’s a crazy situation where we’ve got to the point where we have because the African Nationalist Project has completely failed. We can see that all around us. I’ve said the most stupid thing of all, would be to double up and go, for, as it were, African nationalism to the power of two, which is what we would get from such a government. So I don’t think that is a viable option. 

On Rob Hersov’s initiative to try and get all the members of the so-called Rainbow coalition together

Well, I agree that trying to build some sort of a popular front for such parties is very important, and particularly, I think, for the DA, because the DA suffers from this image of being a white party, which is unfair to them, but nonetheless it exists. And this makes it very difficult for them to extend their reach into the African community, whereas this seems to be much less true of, say, Action South Africa or the IFP or whatever. And in that sense I think it’s very much in the interests both of the DA and the broader community interest for them to indeed, you know, stand with those parties and encourage people to vote for them if they ever wanted to vote for the DA, because that would at least swell the overall ranks of the responsible opposition. 

Read more: PREMIUM – KZN’s quiet democratic revolution – IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa explains why party is hitting ANC for six 

That’s asking quite a lot of the DA I suppose, because they see ActionSA as a sort of real rival. As for the Patriotic Alliance, I don’t really know. I tend to see them as very opportunist. I don’t really trust them, and I don’t know whether they really can be part of such an alliance or not. But I’m not sufficiently well-informed about them really so maybe I should just leave it there. The real problem is that even if you add them all up, it’s quite difficult in fact, very difficult to imagine getting to 50%. Normally they’re close to 35%. And, you know, if they had a very good election, they might get 40 or a bit more. But I would be very surprised if they got beyond that.

Read more: Premium: Rob Hersov on ‘dam-busting’; rejuvenating SA’s Rainbow Coalition; and Capexit post-2024

On the reasons why Russia could potentially be involved in the outcome of the elections

Look, because of Ramaphosa’s position of a sort of pro-Russian neutrality over the Russia Ukraine war, they have made themselves really rather an important diplomatic target for Putin. He will very much want to retain that support because he’s otherwise very isolated, and to have  the most important or one of the most important African countries, which in turn is also a democracy taking that line is a big prize for him. So he will want to keep that. And we have already seen Russia intervening all over Africa, using mercenaries, using violent means, supporting coups, and God knows what to get what they want and interfering in elections, using cyber means and so forth. They interfered in the Madagascar election. 

Now. I think they’re quite likely to do the same thing here and they would like to keep a pro-Russian government in power, which is the way they see Ramaphosa. 

But I think the point is that, you know, during the hardest parts of the struggle. The Russians were the strongest single supporter of the ANC cause. They supported them financially. They gave them weapons, they gave them training and they were critical. And the ANC was enormously impressed by the strengths of Russians and it was wonderful to have such a big, strong, powerful backup. I think now the ANC knows it’s in trouble and knows it’s declining. One of its basic instincts is, you know, where is our Russian ally? Because we need them again now. 

Read more: ANC’s 2024 election trump cards – BIG and Russia. But WSM reckons both will come at a price.