As the clock ticks inexorably towards the 8 May 2019 elections, voters will be weighing their options as to where they should affix their X on a ballot paper that will feature a record 48 political parties.
Corruption and State Capture have provided an abiding staple of news ever since the #GuptaLeaks were brought to light by Scorpio and amaBhungane in July 2017. Revelations at the Zondo and other commissions have extended this continuum of dark revelations that depict shameless acts of greed by persons abusing their positions of trust. These matters are bound to grab the attention of voters on 8 May.
Of great concern to the voters will be the record high unemployment levels. At the back of the minds of many will be the grinding poverty that afflicts more than half of the nation’s population. The yawning inequality gap, vanishing inclusivity in society and the nadir of social cohesion are also big issues that will influence the voting. Understandably, these maladies will be blamed on the party that was entrusted with national governance the last time around.
All its faults notwithstanding, I hereby wish to indicate that I shall vote for my tainted party, the African National Congress if only to give our aspirant president, Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa, a chance to help the country rediscover itself.
Ramaphosa assumed the stewardship of an ANC whose leadership, excepting a distinguished minority, had abdicated to State Capture and simply accepted that nothing could or needed to be done about corruption. They did this because they lived in mortal fear of Jacob Zuma, their leader and paymaster. Some of the members were complicit in State Capture, acting as agents and willing facilitators; others, impelled by the “politics of the stomach”, simply let it happen, never mind their claim to represent the interests of the people
Critics have pointed out that President Ramaphosa was part of this venerable assemblage of notables who constituted the National Executive Committee of the ANC. They are correct. But I do wish to point out that anyone remotely familiar with conflict situations will acknowledge that in politics, timing is always of the essence.
A strategist will sometimes elect to sacrifice short-term objectives, the better to win the war. Losing a battle can be costly and may result in people’s loss of confidence and trust. It carries the pain that must be endured if one’s aim is to attain the bigger prize. So, questions and doubts persist as to why Matamela cohabited with the venal lot as long as he did.
At the opportune time, Ramaphosa used the occasion of Pravin Gordhan’s mindless sacking by Zuma to publicly disagree with the President. The rest, as they say, is history. Ramaphosa won the presidency of the ANC narrowly in a fraught contest, what with the credentials of some delegations being challenged while others participated without the power to vote as a result of voting irregularities that had taken place in provinces whence they came. It was not the cleanest of contests.
All things considered, I aver that Ramaphosa is, at this point in the history of our country, the best-suited person to lead South Africa as its President. I say this first and foremost as a South African, a lot less as an ANC person if you will believe me.
“All things considered” refers first and foremost to Ramaphosa’s respectable leadership acumen, people skills, political and business experience and, not least, his integrity and moral standing. “All things considered” also refers, with due respect, to the paucity of leadership across the entire political spectrum, from which voters will have to make a choice.
Among the many parties on the ballot papers, there is one that is dominated by leadership that seems oblivious to the need to purposefully redress the gamut of injustices perpetrated by colonialism and the apartheid system against black people simply because they were black. It would be the height of naivete to assume that this historical injustice perpetrated over centuries of subjugation can be wiped out in a mere 25 years of post-apartheid governance. This party can do with some free advice, namely, that there exists absolutely no possibility of stable and lasting peace in a South Africa that ignores the burning need to tackle the fundamental issue of completing the process of decolonisation, especially economic emancipation. If this is considered race profiling, somebody please pray for this party.
Also presenting itself to the voters for election is another party led by people who believe that they have a licence to act lawlessly and behave like thugs. They encourage vandalism and the destruction of property. They are most vociferous in their denunciation of corruption even as they are themselves deeply implicated in serious acts of corruption. The leadership of this party takes particular delight in spewing out racist rants and intimidating citizens. It’s a leadership that fraternises with shady characters and has at its beck and call cigarette smugglers and tax dodgers who fund its campaigns.
There are, indeed, more parties on parade for election to the sixth parliament and provincial legislatures. However, until they grow in size and broaden their as-yet limited geographical spread, their presence at best serves to confirm that democracy thrives in South Africa.
Recent Daily Maverick research reveals the extent of corruption in the nation’s political arena. The report states that “one-fifth of the leaders of the political parties registered to contest the 2019 elections have a chequered past: criminal charges or court orders brought against them, professional sanctions, or compelling evidence of wrongdoing for which they have yet to be prosecuted.” It names, among them Julius Malema, Andile Mngxitama and Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Such is the nature of the choice in front of the voters, including those who may decide to give the ANC a bye this time around.
While other affected parties affected by corruption continue to dither and equivocate, Ramaphosa and his team are already tackling the scourge in earnest. The Guptas are history now even though the damage they have caused is incalculable. One must hope they are not beyond the reach of the now long arm of the law.
As for the bad eggs at SARS, Eskom, Denel, Public Investment Corporation, Transnet, Prasa, the National Prosecuting Authority and elsewhere, the way is now open for the proper governance of state institutions. It also remains for law enforcement agencies to act on the criminality that has been exposed in the investigative commissions.
I believe that a Ramaphosa who will have received the electorate’s mandate to govern will deal ruthlessly with corruption; that he would not spit in the faces of people who would have given his party their vote in anticipation of clean governance.
Because I intend to exercise my right to vote, I will put the cross in the space allocated for the ANC voter. I do this more as a South African than as a member of the ANC. I do this in the belief that President Ramaphosa will complete the process he has started of purging of corruption not only in state institutions but more importantly, of clearing the vermin that has inhabited our organisation. I do so in the belief that victory in the forthcoming elections will assist in strengthening the economy so that people can find jobs. DM