Opinionista Omry Makgoale 22 January 2018

Ramaphosa will need to break the camel’s back to have an impact

After being elected as the 13th ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa’s plate is full to the brim with an unpalatable and unappetising dinner. Can he chew all on his plate at the same time? Only time will tell. His task of cleaning the government, the state and the ANC appears straightforward but it is actually complex and requires a systemic and systematic approach.

The first task for Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president is to initiate the State Capture inquiry, getting the terms of reference elaborated and clarified beyond ambiguity. This is despite President Zuma’s deployees, such as Bathabile Dlamini as ANC Women’s League president and Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane pushing to deflect the scope of work of the commission. Some wish to start the commission from 1652 when the Dutch settler Jan Van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape of Good Hope! We can only hope that this crude cover-up logic does not win the day.

The second most important task is the appointment of a new and trustworthy National Prosecution Authority (NPA) head and the removal of Shaun Abrahams. Advocate Abrahams seems to have woken up. The serving of papers to McKinsey and Trillian – the companies that have been sucking Eskom money to feed the appetite of the Guptas – by the Asset and Forfeiture Unit is a step in the right direction.

President Zuma has challenged the court decision disallowing him from appointing the ext NPA head. He is trampling on the resolutions of the 54th ANC elective conference which resolved that the fight against corruption is urgent, since in the past eight years as president Zuma has challenged many court cases including the notorious 783 charges associating him with Schabir Shaik and the Arms Deal. Unless a reliable new NPA head is appointed, the fight against corruption will be dragged until election time in 2019 while the ANC national executive committee is perambulating.

The history of long-standing political parties, such as the Conservative Party in Britain in the 19th century, shows that sometimes the only way to learn is through the pain of losing elections. That will be unfortunate for the ANC, resulting from a partially captured NEC that cannot disentangle itself from the Guptas’ web – further proof that the 54th elective conference led to a stalemate in the ANC, leaving the Guptas’ machinery and the ANC democrats on par.

The ANC Women’s League under Bathabile Dlamini continues to issue statements seeking to revise the scope of the State Capture inquiry in order to protect the man who appointed her as a government minister. Despite having been participants in the 54th conference, they refuse to recognise the resolutions of their own party. Some Women’s League, so in thrall to their lord and master.

Ramaphosa can either reshuffle the Cabinet under the nose of President Zuma and deploy competent ministers with integrity, or he can choose to remain stuck in the rot, as prisoner of the Gupta deployees. If so, it will be at the expense of South Africa and of ANC. He can manufacture reasons to keep the rotten Cabinet indefinitely, but the public of South Africa have had enough of these shenanigans.

Even if he reshuffles the Cabinet, appoints a new head to the NPA and a new crime intelligence head is appointed, the camel’s back will still not be broken. Corruption rules throughout the country, administered by ANC officials and sometimes outright criminals called “cadres”.

We will need the people of South Africa to fight corruption across the length and breadth of the country. We can fight corruption successfully in all parts of the country only when we reform parliamentary electoral laws to allow the voters to elect their own Members of Parliament, directly by their own vote. The voters will know the different candidates from where they themselves live. They can elect trustworthy people better than any list compiled by any party headquarters.

Only then will the ANC fulfil the promise it made in the Freedom Charter in 1955, when it told the country: “The people shall govern!”

Until that time it will not be trusted.

If the ANC wants a new lease on life after shaming itself disgracefully under President Zuma, it can only do this by fulfilling the promise of the Freedom Charter. The ANC has not yet fulfilled that promise.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.” DM

Omry Makgoale is a rank and file member of the ANC. These are his personal views

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