THE YEAR AHEAD
2022: And now, for some really tough times
While we finally slammed the door shut on 2021, it is 2022 that will really make us wake up in the middle of the night – screaming.
The conventional wisdom, repeated so many times that many truly believe it, is that South Africa always walks all the way to the edge, only to pull back to the safety of reason and a common future.
I certainly wish it was true. Still, as they say in financial ads disclaimers, past performance does not guarantee future success. Considering the depth of our problems, we certainly can’t afford to leave things to fate, again.
2021, aka 2020 ver 2.0, was a brutal year for South Africans. People are still hungry, and angry. Institutions of our democratic state are crumbling right in front of our eyes, their authority eroded through incompetence, corruption and infighting. As a country, we are still wrestling with State Capture gangs, most of them known as the RET faction of the ANC. They are a true systemic risk to democratic South Africa’s continued existence and the greatest threat in 2022.
Most of us expected that this group, after the #GuptaLeaks and Zondo Commission exposed the depth and depravity of their crimes against South African people, would just run away with their Gupta masters or be quiet somewhere, hoping that the axe will not find them.
We were wrong. They not only came back, but they also did it with a vengeance.
Their provocateurs infested the information streams with lies and false flag attacks, assisted, and sometimes guided, by the crooked media owners, “journalists” and other public “servants”. In 2021, they amplified their campaign against the most dangerous to them: their political opponents, anti-corruption fighters and the remaining functioning news media.
And that all was just a warm-up for 2022. As we ended the god-forsaken 2021, our break from chaos was short and painful. It will not be just another year – it will be a year when this country’s democracy will come under severe pressure. It will be the year of the decision about the direction the ANC will take, and the whole country with it. This time, one of the main choices on the menu will be South Africa as a failed state.
The RET faction is entering the race for ANC supremacy with the strongest motivation of them all – it must win, otherwise many of them will end up in jail, together with their little media helpers.
Right now, the names of Ace Magashule and Lindiwe Sisulu are being mentioned the most in the race for the ANC presidency. The Zumas, Duduzane and Jacob, are also being mentioned on the periphery, though that is more of wishful thinking.
Duduzane, apart from being an intellectual lightweight, doesn’t have the requisite ANC NEC experience, and Jacob has this tiny little issue of medical parole, which has now been deemed illegal by the High Court. Paul Mashatile, David Mabuza and Zweli Mkhize also have strong aspirations.
The strongest, and obvious, challenger for the ANC throne is Magashule, who’s got that niggly problem, the Free State asbestos scandal. He will do his best to get rid of that sword over his head, but there are likely to be more cases against him in 2022.
In the very possible event of Ace not managing to shake off the legal stuff, right now the insiders punt that Sisulu will front the RET challenge to Cyril Ramaphosa. It is, however, clear that Ace would still wield considerable power behind the scenes.
It is always fascinating to get into the depths of the ANC’s different factions’ policy positions. Most energy at conferences gets spent on the leadership fights; the policy debates, especially if they didn’t involve signature land or mines expropriation without compensation positions, consume less and less space. One can bet that the National Development Plan was not read by almost anyone before it was adopted at the 2012 Mangaung conference.
When I saw Jacob Zuma address the ANC and South Africa in Mangaung in 2012, I could not get the image of a mafia godfather addressing a mafia conference in Las Vegas out of my head, boasting how good his leadership was for the organisation’s business. It was just four months after Marikana.
There is no doubt that throughout all these 21st century years, the one really important issue when assessing the ANC leader’s tenure was never spoken in public, but was always well known: how good is this person for our business?
Right now, thousands of ANC branch delegates are considering the very same question. The question is advanced by the RET faction, and their answer is: not good, not good at all. Or as an ANC-backed businessman recently said: “We’re funding the party and he [Ramaphosa] is sending us to Zondo.”
Obviously, that can’t be said loudly, so – lo and behold – they got a gift from Julius Malema, who let the DA candidates win mayoral chains in most of Gauteng’s metros. That is a much better platform for dethroning Ramaphosa: his “failure” in the local elections and the danger of him “losing” national elections in 2024. Imprecise and perhaps unfair, but it is still a powerful message they can blare, day in and day out.
Admittedly, there is a lot that can happen before the very same branch delegates gather for the 2022 conference, and the Zondo commission report is bound to be damning for the entire RET faction – they know what they did the last decade. There could be a flurry of investigative and NPA activity, but it is bound to be slow and it will take years to finalise the prosecutions, should there be any. More than anything, the Zondo report will, in all likelihood, turn the year into a manic race between the legal system and the likely majority of the ANC leadership layer, which will see it as an existential threat. They will spend every ounce of their energy to stop it.
In 2007, Zuma & Co. decided to get rid of the Scorpions as a way of lightening the pressure. In 2022, the lines are not dissimilar: they want to get rid of Ramaphosa, replace him in February 2023 as SA President, and then immediately replace everyone who can be dangerous to their interests.
That is the plan right now. After Zuma was elected in 2007, South Africa had a collective hiccup, but then just shrugged and went on with its life. In 2022, we will not be able to afford it.
We’re not a strong economy with no debt hanging over our heads anymore. We’re teetering on the edge of an abyss, a country in conflict with itself, after years of corruption, incompetence and a pandemic. The fact that, right now, even as it is still early it appears that the RET forces have an edge in the 2022 votes fight, is not entirely surprising. Ramaphosa was indeed bad for their business.
One thing is clear, though: bringing the RET forces back into ANC power for more corruption and incompetence will also turn South Africa into a failed state.
Can we count on the ANC branch delegates to understand that? Happy 2022, everyone. DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.