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Dear Mr President, beware the long knives as you try to...

South Africa


Dear Mr President, beware the long knives as you try to build ANC unity

Uprooting corruption is a mammoth task, especially when so many within the ANC are plotting against the president. But unless Cyril Ramaphosa succeeds, we could be headed down the Nigerian path of institutionalised graft, writes Sello Lediga.

Dear President Cyril Ramaphosa,

Fikile Mbalula and Ace Magashule, both from the Free State, lightened up the election campaign mood when they disagreed publicly whether it was you who saved the African National Congress from certain defeat, or whether, like Jacob Zuma, it was your party that catapulted you to the highest office in the land. Their public spat was in bad taste and reflected badly on the unity of the ruling party.

However, what is incontrovertible is that all polls are unanimous that you have become more popular than your corrupt party that has bankrupted the state under the leadership of your predecessor, Jacob Zuma. Indeed, had you lost at Nasrec, Zuma would still be president and the ANC would be preparing to warm the opposition benches in the National Assembly and in several provinces.

The 57% that the people of South Africa gave you as a person should not be taken for granted. The people, black and white, have generously given you a blank cheque to fix our embattled country. The people of our country did not vote for Ace Magashule; they voted for Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa. The voters are more important than the branch delegates and NEC of your party. They expect you to stop the wholesale and industrial-scale looting of public resources that was characteristic of Zuma’s presidency.

Mr President, the African National Congress, your ruling party, has been given a new lifeline by the patient, reasonable and peaceful people of South Africa for another five years. The reason the voters of this country have endorsed your party is mainly because of the confidence they have in you as a reasonable man.

After waging one of the most protracted and heroic struggles of the 20th century, your party has evolved into the most potent threat to the people of South Africa. It is the height of irony that your ANC that led the struggle to defeat the ideology of apartheid has entrenched a new ideology viler than apartheid – corruption. Corruption is today in the DNA of your party.

In 1945, the Allied Forces liberated the world from the evil system of Nazism, while apartheid was buried in South Africa in April 1994 when Nelson Mandela became the first president of a democratic South Africa.

On the contrary, Nigeria has long surrendered to corruption and there are no longer any attempts by the people of this unfortunate land to fight the entrenched scourge that has become part and parcel of Nigerian society.

Corruption is far more difficult to defeat than racism. The war against corruption, entrenched by your party, is going to be protracted and bloody: the protagonists of corruption are found nowhere else but in your government and the structures of your ruling party. Do you have the guts and the balls to take on your own comrades in the national interest?

The ANC government in the past 10 years has brought South Africa dangerously close to what Nigeria has become. Under the ruinous presidency of Jacob Zuma, South Africa finds itself on a precipice. The democratic state has been bankrupted by your ruling party that led the liberation struggle against apartheid and continues to claim to be the champion of the people. The same leaders who were prepared to sacrifice their lives to liberate the poor and oppressed, have turned against the people and have been on a looting spree with gay abandon. Revolutionary heroes have become instant millionaires at the expense of the poor through ill-gotten wealth.

In the last nine years, all state-owned companies have been looted to the ground by your predecessor, his friends and three young foreign thugs masquerading as businessmen. As I pen this piece, my country is bleeding while the three friends of your predecessor live large in Dubai, allegedly in the company of his son.

In an act of treachery, our beautiful country was surrendered to these foreigners by your predecessor, assisted by ANC ministers and senior government officials now appearing in several commissions you have established. You have to reclaim our country and its sovereignty for our dignity as a matter of urgency. The nation is behind you.

In your endeavour to capture the presidency of the ANC, you campaigned on an anti-corruption ticket towards Nasrec, courageously pitting yourself against a powerful corrupt cabal inside your party. Today, you lead a party with two distinct factions that can no longer co-exist. Your talk of unity is a myth in an organisation that has become one big looting and criminal enterprise.

This explains why you have appointed no less than three commissions of inquiry to probe the capture of the state by ANC forces. This is indeed a curious situation whereby your ruling party faces a threat not from external opposition forces but from a corrupt faction inside your own organisation. All the scoundrels that have appeared in the three commissions are senior leaders of your party and the senior state officials they worked with. The meaningless emphasis on unity is in itself an acknowledgement of divisions inside your fractured movement.

Be frank with us, the unity you are talking about was stillborn. It never left Nasrec in December 2017 as the Maharani Hotel plot has so dramatically demonstrated. The knives are still out for you as the other faction in your party, led by your secretary-general, are working on a five-year programme of action to reclaim the movement they had reshaped in the image of Jacob Zuma.

Watch out.

Never in the history of the glorious movement has the ANC depended so dearly on an individual as is the case today. Poll after poll has placed you ahead of your shrinking party. For the second time in 25 years, the party leader is more popular than the party. It was first Nelson Mandela in the 1990s and now you, today. You must consider this honour and privilege as a huge burden placed on your big shoulders by a nation tired of the corruption of your party and the demolition job it has done in our beloved country. After almost a decade of looting the state and mismanagement of the government, the South African voter, living in a bankrupt country, is looking for a messiah and that Messiah is you.

Although you may agree that you possess no messianic powers, the desperate people of South Africa can turn to no one but you. As a patriotic South African thrust into the centre stage of a national crisis, you have no option but to respond positively to the cries of your people. Like Moses in the Bible, you have no choice. The alternative, to borrow an old South African phrase, “is too ghastly to contemplate”.

Mr President, you need to understand that the unity you have been preaching is impossible to achieve in the current ANC. Your secretary-general, your predecessor and their faction are hard at work. The Maharani Hotel meeting was allegedly convened to plot your downfall and recent reports of their hand in the formation of African Transformation Movement is further proof that unless you act decisively, your days are numbered.

The forces of evil in your party must be defeated; they have already caused incalculable damage to our country. You may also have to be Machiavellian to survive the onslaught against you. Accommodation of this Zuma-sponsored faction is impossible.

Wrestling with the pig in the mud has only one and inevitable outcome, Mr President.

And you know that. DM

Sello Lediga is a social commentator, author and CEO of the Patriotic Movement, a civil society organisation that promotes patriotism in SA.


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