Opinionista Omry Makgoale 21 February 2018

Goodbye military-guerrilla rule, hello modern democracy

ANC military-guerrilla rule nurtured and mentored by the socialist countries is fading into the history books.

Jacob Zuma has gone into the annals of history as the last former Umkhonto weSizwe commander to be elected the president of African National Congress. We are now in the era of modern democracy away from military-guerrilla rule background experienced under Mbeki and Zuma. ANC military-guerrilla rule nurtured and mentored by the socialist countries is fading into the history books.

Cyril Ramaphosa represents the triumph of the ANC conceived in the womb of the mass democratic movement, in the United Democratic Front (UDF) internally inside South Africa, not in exile, through his organising of the National Union of Mineworkers and later as the ANC’s chief negotiator with the apartheid regime. He was not exposed to the socialist rule under Erich Honecker, Leonid Brezhnev or Fidel Castro, except in textbooks.

The ANC government under Nelson Mandela reconciled the races to build a united, non-racial South Africa based on equality before the law, irrespective of race and religion. The ANC government under Mandela compiled and adopted one of the top five best constitutions in the world, placing South Africa on a solid democratic foundation and respectability internationally.

Under the government of Thabo Mbeki, the ANC got the highest electoral vote and achieved high economic growth, on the positive side. Although Mbeki initiated the Electoral Task Team under Dr Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, which presented the Electoral Reform proposal report in 2003, this report was not implemented but shelved, to the detriment of South Africa’s people.

It was during this period that the Arms Deal was done, procuring weapons in a manner that led to the first major corruption scandal in a democratic South Africa. This scandal implicated the former ANC Chief Whip, Tony Yengeni, who was later arrested and served a prison term. The scandal also implicated Shabir Shaik who was found to have had corrupt relationship with Jacob Zuma, as the former MEC in Economic Co-operation in KwaZulu-Natal. It was during this period that Zuma was charged with 783 charges of corruption and money laundering.

National Prosecuting Authority chief Mokotedi Mpshe declined to charge Zuma on the basis that Leonard McCarthy, the former Scorpions boss, and Bulelani Ngcuka, the former head of the NPA, had discussed the timing of the charges in relation to the ANC elective conference at Polokwane in December 2007, in which Zuma was the presidential candidate challenging Mbeki.

Mbeki wanted a third term as ANC president despite the fact that he could no longer be South African president according to the Constitution of the Republic. Mokotedi Mpshe will go down in SA history as having contributed in destroying the country. A man of low integrity and courage. What a prosecution disaster!

This was the beginning of the Zuma era of ANC leadership. It did not help the situation that Mbeki wanted a have a third term as ANC president, considering that he had been running the government under Mandela. Had he won, he would have governed the country for an effective 15 years non-stop.

Zuma’s reign was characterised by a litany of scandals – the 783 charges still hanging over his neck, the Marikana massacre under his watch, the landing of the Guptas’ wedding entourage at Waterkloof Military Airbase, the Nkandla compound built with taxpayers’ money (which he was compelled by the Economic Freedom Fighters to pay back for some of the work), trampling on the public protector’s report and the declaration by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng that he had acted unlawfully and failed to protect the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

It is in this light that Cyril Ramaphosa comes to lead SA and the ANC, after a disastrous period by a former MK commander who has lost all of the values of Umkhonto weSizwe. The conscious discipline inculcated in the camps by education commissars Mark Shope and Jack Simons was nowhere in his behaviour. Neither was the iron discipline of the Bolsheviks anywhere.

Considering that he was a member of the central committee of the South African Communist Party, he behaved as president more like a lumpen member of the proletariat than a leader of the working class. His conduct and discipline deteriorated to shameful levels, nowhere near the conduct expected from a former MK Commander.

Ramaphosa will save the ANC and government by appointing competent ministers with integrity, similarly appointing competent directors of parastatals with integrity. To continue appointing cronies under the pretext of cadre deployment will not help us.

The State Capture inquiry will ransack all of the cupboards, exposing the smallanyana skeletons. Ultimately those who looted the national purse must be arrested and prosecuted.

The South African Police and the Hawks must follow every case to the end. These measures will go a long way towards cleaning the government and bringing hope to the people of South Africa.

Gone is the era of blaming apartheid for every incompetence in the public service. We should not tolerate or accommodate that level of failure. Everybody must do his or her work in the service of South Africa, and not for personal aggrandisement. DM

Omry Makgoale is a former commander of Umkhonto weSizwe. These are his personal views.

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