The cadres who worked tirelessly for CR17 are making a clarion call: now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party.
Now that the ANC elective conference is over, Cyril Ramaphosa’s supporters face a tough road ahead. They tirelessly worked in the provinces and regions and argued and convinced branches. Inasmuch as many of them were anti-factionalism and slate politics, it seemed to be the only realistic way to counter the NDZ faction. They were motivated by the belief that the ANC needed rescuing from the Zuma thugs; the election promises made by Cyril relating to rooting out corruption, cleaning the ANC of all unethical and self-serving cadres and finally, putting an immediate halt to all forms of State Capture.
Some time ago, post the 2007 Polokwane ANC conference, I wrote about the politics of disillusionment, the politics of retribution and politics of ideology. With the election of President Ramaphosa as leader of the ANC, disillusionment has dissipated. Unlike the comrades post Polokwane, most cadres believe that now is not the time for retribution. Rather, the ANC requires decisive action if it is to win the 2019 general election convincingly.
A good friend reminded me of a time when she was learning to type on a manual typewriter. To become accustomed to what was referred to as the home keys, she was expected to type the sentence: “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party”. The cadres who worked tirelessly for CR17 are making the same clarion call: now is the time for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of the party.
Let us be clear about what such a programme must entail over the coming months. It is not just the 5,000-odd delegates to the ANC conference (and their respective branches) who need convincing. It is the approximately 56 million South Africans. So the hard work now needed is for the sake of the Party towards the 2019 general elections.
Firstly, President Zuma must be requested to resign with immediate effect. The alternatives are a recall or impeachment (but I doubt those will be necessary). President Zuma is to step down, not because of revenge or retributive politics but simply because it will be in the interests of the ANC as a governing party. Satisfying the whims of only a few thousand members in the Party, who apparently threaten to split the party should Zuma be removed, would be folly. If indeed the ANC wants to regain its mass support amongst the urban middle classes, then there can be no ambiguity with regards to the election promises made by the new ANC President.
Allowing Zuma to deliver the State of the Nation Address in February at Parliament would be a mistake of gargantuan proportions. This would feed right into the hands of the EFF and the DA, which will each make sure that they make a mockery of the President. Both parties will also have a go at the country’s Deputy President Ramaphosa, who will be seen as spineless and unable to execute his pre-conference promises.
In keeping with the argument of avoiding two centres of power, it makes sense that Ramaphosa, as ANC President and Deputy President of the State, occupies the State President position with immediate effect. In 2008 we witnessed the sudden recall of President Mbeki as state president, when Jacob Zuma was elected ANC president. At that time, it was not possible for Zuma to become State President as he was not in government at the time, having been fired from the presidency (as deputy president). Under these conditions, the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) deployed President Kgalema Motlanthe to play an interim President role. As it was only a few months from the general elections, Zuma chose to wait before becoming state president. That was a calculated move, in light of the upcoming elections.
So it is, of course, possible to remove President Zuma and put into his place a suitable interim replacement. One possibility is Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe. Alternatively, Ramaphosa can also make history and appoint the first female interim President, such as Minister Naledi Pandor. This, I suspect, won’t be necessary, and a more calculated move would be for CR to take on the presidency immediately. This would be in the best interests of the ANC, and South Africa.
Secondly, as ANC President and the future State President, he should call for a meeting between himself and the leaders of all opposition parties, to discuss mechanisms going forward to restore the functioning and decorum of the National Assembly. If this means some trade-offs around some policy issues, then so be it. Continuing like a circus every time the assembly sits is not an option. I think I speak for many citizens in saying we are gatvol of this buffoonery. A meeting and an agreement on how to proceed with discipline will go a long way to restoring the assembly’s reputation and dignity. With the latest Constitutional Court ruling in respect of the legislature yet again not holding the President to account, and therefor engaging in dereliction of duties, it is already suffering from reputational damage. Another demonstration of ill-discipline in February will simply be suicide.
The third order of business will be for the State President to effect several immediate changes. A cabinet reshuffle is imperative. Malusi Gigaba must vacate the finance ministry with immediate effect. Bongani Bongo must go; he does not belong in the Intelligence portfolio, or any, for that matter. David Mahlobo as energy Minister must vacate. Nomvula Mokonyane has not done a great job with Water Affairs. Bathabile Dlamini has been dismal at Social Development. Mosebenzi Zwane should have gone already. Des van Rooyen – well, the less said the better. These are just the first removals that must be effective immediately.
Fourth, a complete overhaul of the intelligence services is required. This will take time, but it must happen. The entire top brass of the Police also must be requested to resign before the general elections. This will go some way in restoring the public’s confidence in our security services.
Finally, as for the economic ideology of Ramaphosa, let’s see how far the ‘New Deal’ will take us as a country. One thing of which I am certain is that his chumminess with the private sector and captains of industry had better pay off. Without a solid commitment from the private sector and labour towards such a new deal, we can forget about a revival of the economy.
It is all hands on deck, and all good men and women must come to the aid of the Party if we are to translate this win into a success. CR17 has won the Nasrec battle, but the 2019 general election is the impending war. DM
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Oscar van Heerden is a scholar of International Relations (IR), where he focuses on International Political Economy, with an emphasis on Africa, and SADC in particular. He completed his PhD and Masters studies at the University of Cambridge (UK). His undergraduate studies were at Turfloop and Wits. He is an active fellow of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflections (MISTRA) and is a trustee for the Kgalema Mothlante Foundation
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