South African citizens, of whatever political persuasion, need to be thoughtful and deeply reflective before aggressively and publicly criticising President Cyril Ramaphosa in the media or on other platforms in a manner that may contribute more instability to, and tension within, our country’s fragile political and socioeconomic environment.
Media-generated confusion or personal mudslinging is not generally helpful and it is incumbent on commentators to tread cautiously when casting aspersions on the man who holds the highest office in the land via a democratic, albeit possibly financially influenced, process.
However, last week’s self-righteous performances of our president at the Zondo Commission and his farcical so-called watch-this-space reshuffle of his Cabinet has rightly been, and will continue to be, critically commented on by citizens with well-deserved contempt.
At the Zondo Commission he confirmed his “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” deputy presidential stance during the years that our country tumbled towards a failed state of corruption, patronage, nepotism and incompetent financial management. The resultant toll from his acquiescence on our economy, and the unemployment and poverty it endured, is quite simply unforgivable.
Even if one generously accepts his rather incredulous proposition that he was working for change from within, his recent deplorable Cabinet appointments — or non-appointments — give the lie to his assertions to Judge Raymond Zondo that he is on the job of reforming the ANC and restoring honour and dignity to our political establishments.
Aside from retaining or reassigning the dubious Messrs Cele, Patel, Gordhan, Mabuza, Sisulu, Mantashe, Dlodlo and Kodwa et al — who have either dismally presided over their failed domains or have some linkage to financial impropriety — he paved the way for a new Speaker of the National Assembly whose appointment has been aptly described by many as disgusting. Her integrity and historical credentials are totally unworthy of the status with which she is being conferred and confirm Ramaphosa and the ANC’s total disrespect and disdain for our Parliament. This simply augments the generally held view that this so-called honourable house is perhaps nothing more than a tub thumpers’ forum for self-serving egocentric overpaid cadres who love the sound of their own voices.
Certainly, this appointment does nothing to advance the provisions of our Constitution which promote the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive.
Just how many chances are South Africans going to give this indecisive, smooth-tongued, double-speaking presidential incumbent to influence and make an impression on the affairs of state in our country? The absence of normal timeous electoral processes prolongs his and his party’s dominance, and provides him and his colleagues with a safety cushion they do not deserve.
However, and ironically, in the absence of any appropriate heir apparent, many South Africans cherish the hope and belief that the president can become “presidential” and transform his obsession with ANC unity — a preposterous concept — into a renewed, vigorous and determined effort to unite a political centre that has the wellbeing of all our citizens, most specifically the wretched, deprived and disadvantaged, at heart.
This political centre cannot be structured from within the ANC or even existing political parties and needs to be founded on a vision and a sense of reality that the broader South African society has within it the will, talent, courage and integrity to properly manage our political, social, economic and constitutional destiny going forward.
If instead of protecting his own personal political bubble within the ANC, the president would embrace, be guided by and draw from the many organisations and leaders of that broader South African society and form a government of national unity, he would leave a legacy that may even surpass that of our county’s first and esteemed democratically elected president.
If he does not seek such a government, and a deeper and more direct involvement of the private sector and civil society in it, one can only ask why. DM