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What a load off Rama Soft — Cyril had to cancel Davos, but it’s a relief for him, and for SA

What a load off Rama Soft — Cyril had to cancel Davos, but it’s a relief for him, and for SA
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: OJ Koloti / Gallo Images)

The desperate stories he would have had to spin to explain away the dire state of the nation would have cowed a braver man into silence. And as we know all too well, brave, strong and decisive Rama Soft is not.

Shame, so poor Prez Cyril “Rama Soft” Ramaphosa had to cancel his trip to Davos, Switzerland, where all the leaders of the rich nations swan about looking down on the poor nations, to deal with South Africa’s electricity crisis.

He didn’t miss out on his trip to the UK to chat to King Charles III to deal with the electricity crisis, but perhaps we were only at Stage 4 then, not Stage 6 and teetering on the brink of stage umpteen.

Anyway, it was probably a great relief, really, for our beleaguered President. No more of that desperate attempt to paint South Africa as a good destination for all that money just swishing around the world looking for somewhere to go.

No more awkward conversations about what he has done to save South Africa from the ruin caused by the previous administration, er, mafia.

No more “Yes, we’re desperate for investment! Come to South Africa with all your sacks of cash! You can make huge profits! Er, well, actually no, we haven’t really done much to stem the pandemic of corruption that has brought our beloved country to its knees.

“There are about 9,000 cases pending, which is to say maybe somewhere on the agenda of the National Prosecuting Agency, so really, you know, it’s going to take time…

“Well, yes, I, Rama Soft, have been in power for several years now, if you can call it power — not counting my time as deputy president, which was pretty much wasted, except for that weekend when I went to Jacob Zuma to tell him his appointment of Des ‘Idiot’ van Rooyen was crashing the rand, and he actually listened…

“But, wait! Yes, actually, in fact, actually, we have put a few of the former CEOs of our state-owned enterprises, who shovelled great bucketloads of cash to the Guptas, kneecapping development in the process, on trial… You may expect that to take a while.

“Please be patient. Look how long it has taken to get the most corrupt South African of all, the Honourable JG Zuma, into a courtroom. You see, we’re doing this on ANC time. And, as you know, that means a century or two. But give us lots of money in the meantime.”

Or perhaps the awkward conversation he’s avoiding at Davos might have gone something like this: “Yes, please, we want billions and billions to get going on the green transition we promised to start… Oh, was it so long ago?

“And, yes, I have put in charge of the whole thing precisely the wrong person, a hidebound old party hack and power-monger — no, not that kind of power — who is basically the least progressive person I could find.

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“And, yes, he’s actively hostile to any form of power generation that isn’t coal-fired or Russian nuclear or Turkish powerships… Yes, he’d like to waste a shitload of money on that, instead of letting us build a few wind farms…

“Well, actually, yes, we should have updated our energy policy a few years ago, we should have brought it a little closer to the 21st century.  

“But, hey, I’ve got to leave that in the hands of the Grand Panjandrum of Smoky Darkness, His Highness Gwede ‘Harrrumph’ Mantashe, because, well, I owe him. Without him dragooning all those paid-for branches into line, I might not be in power right now and I wouldn’t be here at Davos holding out the begging bowl.

“And, no, we haven’t done anything to fix the regulatory environment so you could actually make a tiny profit out of your investment in South Africa. No, we haven’t changed the rules that allow the state to cream off any excess. So, sorry, you’ll have to invest without a hope of any return…

“Sorry. We actually hate the West, and we do all in our power to annoy the West as well as support Vlad Putin’s attempt to liquidate the entire sovereign nation of Ukraine, including war crimes, murdering children, that sort of thing… Yes, South Africa’s great commitment to human rights is looking like a sham. Pure hypocrisy. The West should be familiar with that. But please give us billions and billions anyway!

“No, I don’t have a couch big enough to house all that money, especially if it comes in cash or buffaloes, but we’ll make a plan.”

So, anyway, we’ve been saved the spectacle of Rama Soft humiliating himself and the nation at Davos, or anywhere else, for a while now. He can stay in South Africa and humiliate himself and us right here at home.

People are burning down municipal buildings because they have no water, but the President, I’m sure, will take that to the relevant committee of ministers and see that the voices of the people are heard, like he heard those voices that burnt down half of KwaZulu-Natal last year. Or was it the year before? Time flies when you’re practically starving to death, and in total darkness too.


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It’s just that committee of ministers that worries one a little. Ministers? Which ministers? Does Rama Soft have any competent ministers? I suppose we’re all waiting for the Cabinet reshuffle to find out.

And we’re waiting to find out what the Ramaphosa administration is going to do about all the traitors in our midst, all those who are trying to bring down the government, like André de Ruyter, as Gwede said — at least up until the moment the Eskom CEO was conveniently poisoned.

Please note that De Ruyter was not, repeat not, trying to subvert the state. That, the ANC is doing very well all by itself.

Trouble is, we’re all traitors now. We’re all trying to bring down the government. And I don’t mean all those DA voters who are about to march to Luthuli House to stop load shedding, as if they could — but at least that’s out in the open.

One thinks of all those trying to fix the neglected and broken infrastructure, like De Ruyter, and pay off the immense debts run up by the state-owned enterprises as they pissed taxpayers’ money down the drain. That’s definitely undermining the government.

Read in Daily Maverick: “ANC’s top brass remain the butt of the joke

I mean, look at Pravin Gordhan, trying to do a deal to save SAA — treason! Okay, the deal hasn’t come together, and it’s so transparent that nobody knows what’s going on, but obviously trying to save the national airline by means of partial privatisation is a slap in the face of all those deployed cadres whose job is to waste money hand over fist. We’re not actually sure what “hand over fist” means, but you get the picture.

All those people who’ve taken it upon themselves to unilaterally fix the potholes in our streets? Ha ha! They think that’s the good-citizen thing to do, but it’s actually undermining the government. In fact, it’s subverting the state. Don’t go doing the state’s job for it — that’s treason.

Never mind all those who are logging faults, electricity outages (that aren’t load shedding), water outages, mental outages… Well, they’re obviously trying to bring down the government too.

Please stop calling attention to all these outages. We don’t want the world to know we’re a failing state, or that our municipalities are staggering from crisis to crisis — you might hurt Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s feelings. And what’s Rama Soft going to say when he goes to Davos next year? DM168

Shaun de Waal is a writer and editor.

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.

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