President Cyril Ramaphosa declared over the weekend that the 2019 elections would be more important than the historic 1994 ones; the ones that marked a new beginning for South Africa following many years of brutal apartheid.
It is unclear if he really meant this, or if it’s something he said while still caught up in the fervour of electoral campaigning and the excited disbelief that his weekend in KwaZulu-Natal would go as well as it did.
Contrary to fears in some quarters – and the colourful reception given to Zuma aside – not one of the many recording devices present at Moses Mabhida Stadium recorded the slightest booing when Ramaphosa took to the podium.
His forward team, led, among others, by the one and only Ace Magashule – he who successfully held the Free State front on behalf of the Guptas during the decade-long state capture battle for resources – ensured that Zuma was offered enough sweeteners to keep his Zulu battalions behind their barracks, for now.
Many South Africans might have been baffled, if not disgusted, by the bromance between Ramaphosa and Zuma, but there is no indication that any of the two comrades gives a toss about what the rest of us think.
Keeping up appearances
After all, South Africans will be sorted out, right? In the art of politics, it will take a few more lofty promises, a sweetener here and another one over there, to keep us in line and believing that poor Ramaphosa really hates what he has to go through in order to tame the Zuma beast created by the party he leads. But he has to play the part and keep up appearances, for us.
We will be told that he has to go through this ‘humiliation’ for our sake because there is no other way. We’ll also be told not to worry too much and to focus on the bigger picture, for Ramaphosa has it all worked out, like he did during the five years when he was Deputy President and had to tiptoe into meetings with his boss, fake enthusiasm, and take part in discussions he hated; discussions the details of which he is yet to share with us.
Furthermore, we will be reminded that the poor man was unable to act during that time because doing so would result in him being reshuffled, forever losing the opportunity to become president; for us. He is a man with a sharp calculator in his head, others would have us believe, always waiting for the right moment to pounce.
Unless Ramaphosa meant the 2019 elections would be more important for the ANC – given the reputational capital and moral high ground it has shed in recent years – and not for South Africa, I disagree with him.
Granted, every election is important but, for anyone who appreciates where South Africa comes from, no election can match in significance our 1994 poll, when all South Africans in their diversity queued together for the first time to vote for an all-inclusive non-racial, government.
The 2019 elections might, of course, be a watershed only if the ANC loses significant electoral support for the second time since coming to power, following the loss of three key metros in the 2016 Local Government elections, and is forced to eat humble pie, which all indications show it’s hungry for; for South Africa.
Cute, smart, cuddly Ramaphosa
Coming back to Ramaphosa, one must love this president for being forthright. Unlike the armies of blind supporters out there, inside and outside of the ANC, who constantly second-guess him and spend valuable time concocting excuses on his behalf, I choose to go by what he says and what he does. I honestly think President Ramaphosa is cute, likeable, smart, charming, cuddly, and all that.
But, sadly, we don’t vote for individuals in South Africa; we only vote for political parties. So, a vote for Ramaphosa is a vote for an ANC infested with Magashule-types.
The smiling faces voters will see on their ballot paper, including that of cute and charming Cyril Ramaphosa, are those of party representatives; they can also be regarded as fronts in their ‘Sunday best’. Those are the cute images that will be looking back at you when you stand alone in the voting booth trying to convince yourself that the choice you’re about to make is the right one; for South Africa.
People must stop telling us that that we must vote for CR to “strengthen his hand” so he can clean up the ANC and do more; for SA. They keep making up all these promises on Ramaphosa’s behalf that many of us are yet to hear him make them directly, with his own mouth. They second-guess him ad nauseam at the potential expense of South Africa.
Until Ramaphosa tells us, South Africans who are not in ANC branches, what he aims to do about the many corruption-implicated comrades in all ANC structures, including the top six, the NEC, the Women’s League and the Youth League, we should think hard before we fall for the promises made on his behalf by those who have turned second-guessing him into a profession.
I must admit, however, that to his credit, Ramaphosa seems consistent and truthful in the utterances he makes about his plans for the ANC. I have no reason to doubt his words when he says, over and over again, that his priority is to unite the ANC – hence the bromance with Zuma and others who brought South Africa down to its knees over the past ten years. It’s hard to believe that he’d only want to strengthen it just for the elections, then weaken/destroy it after it (not he) wins the elections.
What logic would there be in him spending so much energy and personal reputational capital strengthening the ANC (including kneeling in front of tribal kings; hugging Zuma the ‘chief wrecking ball’ of our republican dream; referring to him in all sorts of endearing terms; keeping suspected criminals in his cabinet, etc.) only to divide/destroy/weaken it afterwards?
Where is the evidence, be it in his words or actions, that he will do good for South Africa only after the ANC gets strengthened by more votes from us?
Isn’t this a bit like asking South Africans to give more of their hard-earned cash to the likes of Eskom without telling them what they will do to recover the billions fraudulently handed over to Zupta companies?
Ramaphosa has brilliantly done his internal communications with the ANC; he now needs to put his ANC cap aside a lot more often and wear his state presidential one a lot more often; talk to us, South Africans outside ANC branches, about what he plans to do for us, including how he plans to deal with the state capture implicated comrades in ANC ranks.
Promising them advisory and other roles in his administration, at the taxpayer’s cost, is hardly the way to go in order to win more brownies from us.