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Opinionista

The irony of one of the world’s leading capitalist publications endorsing Cyril Ramaphosa

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Faiez Jacobs is an ANC Member of Parliament for Greater Athlone and whip for the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development. He is visiting Germany for a five-day parliamentary exchange programme with fellow MPs from the ANC, the DA and the EFF.

On 25 April 2019, The Economist carried a front cover portrait of President Cyril Ramaphosa, and in its leader article urged South Africans to vote for the ANC nationally, but said it would ‘enthusiastically endorse’ the DA provincially. Under the headline ‘Good man, bad party: To stop the rot in South Africa, back Cyril Ramaphosa’, the magazine called Ramaphosa an ‘honest reformer’, a bitter pill for the DA to swallow.

It must have felt like the ultimate act of betrayal for Helen Zille and her acolytes, a treacherous deed by The Economist, the world’s most prestigious, trusted and respected financial magazine.

This betrayal was not hidden on an inside page so that Zille and her ineffectual hand-picked successor as DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, could continue to pontificate and rubbish President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic policies.

No. No. It was carried on the front cover, the page that is designed and intended to capture the imagination, tell a powerful story, and visually as well as in words tell where the publication stands on a crucial issue.

In this case last week, in an edition that coincided with South Africa’s 25th birthday as a democracy and thus mightily symbolic and also a vote of confidence in the winner of the political battle of Nasrec, The Economist devoted its cover page to Cyril Ramaphosa.

His friendly smile, which evokes confidence and a feeling of goodwill, graced the cover page, which can also be regarded as a doorway to the magazine. It was a smile that was transported all over the world, in a positive manner that many politicians can only dream of.

But that was not the only positive message that The Economist had about the New Dawn President. It also had a huge bold headline that said: “South Africa’s best bet: How Cyril Ramaphosa can clean up the rainbow nation.”

Wow. It was not a paid-for cover page in the globe’s most prestigious financial publication. It was an independent editorial act that put the knife into the DA’s claims that under President Ramaphosa the nation is headed for economic ruin, isn’t working, is clueless and that only the DA can save the country.

We have been saying that this childish argument is untrue and that the truth would prevail no matter how often the DA tried to introduce its economic nonsense as fact.

Given the DA’s influence in the business community, we were aware that selling the president and his economic policies that were placing South Africa on the road to recovery would be a tough job. But we believed in what we were doing and kept on repeating our message that the South African economy was in recovery.

Perhaps the patient was not responding as fast as we hoped it should, but it was on the mend. Our message resonated with business, which also began to believe in and espouse the new dawn.

Still, there was that nagging voice, which has no experience of being a national government, but that nonetheless spoke “authoritatively” about its plans for South Africa.

In a series of publicity stunts, the DA confidently proclaimed how it would save South Africa, the economy, SAA, Prasa and other parastatals.

As part of this narrative, the DA also shouted loudly how it would push for a provincial police force in the Western Cape, even if this pipe dream is not possible under the Constitution.

But like a sensation-driven tabloid, the DA does not let the facts stand in the way of claims that provoke and then eat on people’s fears.

An underlying message of the DA electioneering strategy is to scare South Africans into voting for this party of doomsayers. Another segment of the biggest opposition party in Parliament is to appropriate history.

Bereft of a direct link to liberation fighters such as Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Albertina Sisulu, Lillian Ngoyi, Lizzie Abrahams, Dulcie September or Chris Hani, the party, which we believe is led in public by Maimane but privately by Zille, has for years been trying to portray itself as Mandela’s heir. This is a political lie that the majority of South Africans find insulting.

They know that the DA and its predecessors were part of the system that Mandela had vowed to destroy even if he were to die in that process.

They know too that when PW Botha offered Mandela a conditional release, the first commander of uMkhonto weSizwe scornfully rejected that offer. They know and appreciate that Mandela linked his freedom to that of the majority.

So the DA can continue with its policy of trying to steal history, but our people know the truth and it is that knowledge that will see them arriving at polling stations on 8 May to vote ANC.

Our people know that we have a good story to tell. They know too that for a good story to be an exceptional one, it has to have difficult parts in it, as well as a narrative that says the past is behind us.

This is Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC’s narrative for the New Dawn: We have a good story of a recovering country to tell. Be part of this good story so you can also live it and tell others about it.

We are not the only ones who believe that it is only Cyril Ramaphosa who is the most appropriate leader to be at the helm of the South African ship.

The world’s biggest financial publication, which is so trusted, respected, quoted and read by those in the DA, agrees with us.

Of course, the bitter and scorned Zille vehemently disagrees with The Economist. But we know that the politically-senile outgoing Western Cape Premier has reached the stage where she believes her own propaganda and should be taken with a pinch of salt.

The question to undecided voters and those who have for years believed that the DA alone knows what is best for South Africa and the economy is, who do you believe, The Economist or the DA?

The Economist has a proven track record. Therefore, we believe in its pronouncement. We urge as many South Africans as possible to give President Ramaphosa a decisive mandate to grow the New Dawn. DM

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