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The RET is becoming more brazen, showing their faces amid a swelling of ranks

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Ismail Lagardien is a writer, columnist and political economist with extensive exposure and experience in global political economic affairs. He was educated at the London School of Economics, and holds a PhD in International Political Economy.

Driven by opposition to President Cyril Ramaphosa, ‘white monopoly capital’, the justice system and the Constitution, certain active and inactive politicians and bureaucrats, chancers, would-be liberators and unsavoury types have started to show their hand.

With each week that goes by, there is a coalescing of active and inactive politicians and bureaucrats, of chancers and would-be liberators, and an unsavoury faction within and outside the ANC aligning themselves with a potentially destabilising political formation in the county. 

On the face of things — at least where the ANC is concerned — is the December elective conference and senior party members are simply positioning themselves, but situated in the more complex shifts in the country, there is a discerning swelling of Radical Economic Transformation (RET) and EFF ranks.

There is no formal relationship between the RET and EFF (yet), mainly because the former is a loose affiliation and Julius Malema seems to have things pretty much under control in the latter. 

For there to be a coalition between the two, he may have to cede power — it’s hard to see Malema taking instructions from anyone — and absorb, at least tactically, a short-term formal alliance with his former ANC comrades and an assortment of chancers.

Nonetheless, if we consider that the EFF is a settled bloc, the active and inactive politicians and bureaucrats, chancers, would-be liberators and unsavoury types have started to show their hand. 

Most recently, Lindiwe Sisulu has thrown down the gauntlet and let it be known that she wants to lead the ANC.

In a speech delivered at Unisa’s College of Law, Sisulu said in a not-so-cleverly veiled threat against the country’s institutions: “The judiciary is not untouchable and the South African Constitution is not a holy script… evidence suggests the judiciary may be in cahoots with the elite against the very people it should be defending; the problem with the judiciary is it hasn’t been above the fray, where it should have been.” 

The latter is a suggestion that President Ramaphosa has used the Zondo Commission and the National Prosecuting Authority to remove loyal cadres from positions of power — or at least throw shade on them.

Sisulu joins a growing list of people, almost all of whom are either anti-Ramaphosa; opposed to the Constitution tout court; opposed to the current office-bearers and structure of the National Prosecuting Authority; seek a more rapine and almost vengeful erasure of “white monopoly capital”; demand that sections of the old national anthem be removed from the national anthem of the democratic era; the eradication of Afrikaans (as taught in schools used in public service) and stripped of its status as one of the 11 official languages of the country; more rapid Africanisation of all private and public institutions as an end in itself; rapid decoupling of the continent from the global political economy with a contiguous shift to autarchy, and especially an end to exporting raw materials for beneficiation abroad, and ultimately the nationalisation of everything the state can lay its hands on. 

The latter is expressly stated in the EFF’s constitution and everything may not appeal to the band of individuals and organisations from Panyaza Lesufi — his main gripe is Afrikaans, and one cannot quite figure out where he stands on anything else — to the Institute for Economic Justice and a smattering of academics, most notably distinguished professors like the one who carries deep resentment for being overlooked, and left in a dark, dank corner with the two good ideas he regurgitates every few years. 

He has acolytes in reputable academic institutions, though very few would employ him because he is a toxic fella that is more of a pamphleteer, and takes great pride in brainwashing impressionable undergraduates.

As a collective, there is no coherent thought or strategy, but they’re held together, as it were, by intense dislike of Cyril Ramaphosa (whom we have come to learn has some questions to answer), and hold grudges against the NPA under Shamila Batohi, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, and some have unflinching loyalty towards Busisiwe Mkhwebane. 

On this “list” are used-up politicians like Malusi Gigaba, one-trick ponies like Panyaza Lesufi, reprobates like Ace Magashule and Supra Mahumapelo; Carl Niehaus, the theme park pony; Mkhwebane herself; Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; Jacob Zuma the elder and his zoot-suit-and-shiny-shoes son, Duduzane; pinkie-ring hustlers like Tony Yengeni; jugheads like Andile Lungisa; Fikile Mbalula who would put his finger into an electric socket if he was guaranteed a new follower on social media; the more respectable (though increasingly tribal) Zweli Mkhize and Paul Mashatile. 

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Former health minister Zweli Mkhize. (Photo: Supplied)

Former KZN mayor Zandile Gumede will just not go away, and Lindiwe Zulu (Minister of Social Development) has not only failed in her previous portfolio as Minister of Small Business Development — a solid count may show that she set back small business development in South Africa.

Zulu, too, has shown solidarities with the RET faction. We should probably add Dudu Zuma-Sambudla, another of Jacob Zuma’s children, if only for her apparent incitement to violence to “take our country back”.

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The tweet by Jacob Zuma’s daughter, Dudu Zuma-Sambudla.

The list is also filled with former bureaucrats and technocrats who once were warriors; people like Brian Molefe, Koko Matshela, Lucky Montana, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the irrepressible James Manyi, and Irvin Jim. 

The latter is a significant figure — setting aside his proud Stalinism. As head of the National Union of Mineworkers, he has a following of around 350,000 workers.  

Arthur Fraser, Jacob Zuma’s old former head of intelligence, pegged his colours to the RET mast — seemingly with his opposition to Ramaphosa given recent criminal charges he laid against the President

Bathabile Dlamini is not too far from the centre of the RET faction. 

Should the RET faction beat Ramaphosa in December — for whatever reason, and things unfold as they would after changes at the helm — and they start taking over positions in government, we can expect the return of Des van Rooyen, whose tenure as finance minister was about as long as an Easter weekend, and Chris Malikane of Wits University, to the National Treasury. 

In a previous incarnation, I supported Malikane’s right to free thought and speech; to his unorthodox approach to economics, but reserved judgement on having him at the control panel because he seemed to be reckless with an economy already on its knees. 

We have yet to factor in the return to active politics of Andile Mngxitama, but should probably wait and see if he is able to return to work after a mysterious illness laid him low, something which Malema shamefully mocked, thereby revealing his own shame-based identity. 

This RET affiliation has the polite face — while spending well-intended money of at least one European NGO — of the Institute for Economic Justice. Sometimes it seems as if they have the backing of the Independent Newspapers group, too. That is, for now, simply conjecture. 

Nonetheless, the characters are gathering like a murder of crows waiting to pounce on injured birds, raid the nests and eat the eggs of other birds out searching for food. 

If all of this were a comedy, nobody would laugh. If it were a drama, we’d consider it a tragedy. 

The problem is that it holds very clear dangers for a country already facing headwinds in a world that is bracing itself for stagflation (slow growth, high inflation). 

The only optimism is that South Africans — ordinary people — are moving along fixing things around them. 

My guess is that if the RET/EFF were to disappear from the world tomorrow, nobody would miss them. DM

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All Comments 7

  • What are you doing throwing the Institute for Economic Justice in with this group of reprobates? The RET gang have no interest in economic justice, but their use of the rhetoric really makes it difficult to pose genuinely radical alternatives without being seen to be aligned to criminals, thugs and anti-democratic forces. Your inability to make this distinction is surprising.

  • Excellent CV’s with comments “On this “list” are used-up politicians like Malusi Gigaba, one-trick ponies like Panyaza Lesufi, reprobates like Ace Magashule and Supra Mahumapelo; Carl Niehaus, the theme park pony; Mkhwebane herself; Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; Jacob Zuma the elder and his zoot-suit-and-shiny-shoes son, Duduzane; pinkie-ring hustlers like Tony Yengeni; jugheads like Andile Lungisa; Fikile Mbalula who would put his finger into an electric socket if he was guaranteed a new follower on social media; the more respectable (though increasingly tribal) Zweli Mkhize and Paul Mashatile. ” My award goes to Fikile Mbalula description.

  • Not all those you name could ever be considered ‘warriors’. Lucky Montana, for example, was part of a tiny group (who may or may not have been UCT students), who in 1992 or -3 tried to block the Upper Campus internal streets, refused to comment on what their goal or motivation was, briefly blocked the south vehicle entrance with burning tyres, ran through classrooms spraying fire-hoses, and then valiantly disappeared. Since then he appears to have perfected the art of anti-social destructiveness.

  • “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
    ~ Edmund Burke

    Let’s hope there are enough good men left in this country to oppose these EFFing RETards.

  • A fine, rational and keenly analytical mind at work. Keep it up please Mr Lagardien, it gives me much cause for hope in a sea of hopelessness.

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