It’s not as though President Cyril Ramaphosa doesn’t have his hands full, dealing with state capture, corruption and incompetence … but it is good news that he will be personally visiting the disastrous R3.5 billion Giyani water project this week to see for himself.
Hopefully, he will – figuratively speaking – apply some shoe leather to the posteriors of government officials responsible for the debacle.
The project saw the light of day in 2014, after then president Jacob Zuma proclaimed himself shocked at the fact the Limpopo villagers were drawing dirty water from the same rivers and streams used by domestic and wild animals. The project was supposed to provide potable water for communities right around the Giyani district – but has stalled because the department of water affairs and sanitation has failed to pay the contractor for the work.
Unable to pay its workers or even buy fuel, the company has been forced to walk off site … leaving the work more than 90% compete, but without the final reticulation to take water to people.
We hope the presence of Ramaphosa will spur the department to settle its bills and get the scheme going again. But we also need to find out why this mess happened in the first place.
If the ruling party needs leaders without a shred of credibility to continue governing or winning then the voters will expose this sham unity at the polls. President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally done what he was supposed to do months ago: fire Dan Moyane as head of the SA Revenue Service.
Understandably there is excitement in some quarters about the firing because Moyane was one of the main cogs in the state capture machinery. Some would even argue that without him running Sars into the ground like he did in just under four years, the billions looted during state capture would not have been looted.
So why did it take a commission of inquiry and over eight months for the president to remove him from his position? The answer is simply that the president does not want to rub people up the wrong way – people within the ANC.
It is for this reason that Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba is still in the Cabinet when he has been found to have lied under oath about the Fireblade terminal contract with the Oppenheimers. Even the public protector, who has let a lot of questionable politicians off the hook, has come out and told the president to take action over Gigaba’s lies.
It’s not as though the president didn’t have grounds to relieve Gigaba of his duties because of the way his name has come up in multiple state capture investigations. He did, but Gigaba was spared for the same reasons that Nomvula Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini are still in Cabinet.
The president does not want to rock the ANC boat before the 2019 elections.
Ramaphosa has chosen to hand long ropes to all the ministers that were at former president Jacob Zuma’s beck and call in the hope that given time and a little encouragement they will hang themselves. And Gigaba has certainly done a superb job of pushing himself out of Cabinet with his indiscretions. But the question remains: why does the president choose the unity of the ANC above good governance?
Politicians like Gigaba, Mokonyane and Dlamini know their worth to the president and their party is in their ability to galvanise support for the ANC during elections. So they will not one day wake up with a crisis of conscience and resign their positions voluntarily. They will not go quietly; they will fight back like Moyane is doing. But that does not take away the president’s prerogative: all ministers in the Cabinet serve at his pleasure – as former president Zuma’s supporters liked to remind all and sundry.
When the president finally realises that some of the dead wood he’s carrying in the Cabinet are actually a great liability to the country, it might be too late. If the ruling party needs leaders without a shred of credibility to continue governing or winning then the voters will expose this sham unity at the polls.
This past week, the ANC in Gauteng organised a march against the much-hated and disastrous monstrosity that is e-tolls. The ANC in Gauteng has said as far back as 2014, that e-tolls are being shoved down their throats by the national ANC under Zuma.
Again, the government under Ramaphosa has played the let’s-bury-our-heads-in-sand game.
Unfortunately for the president he cannot institute a commission of inquiry to do the dirty work for him on this one. Only decisiveness is required of him. Ramaphosa has the potential to be the great leader the country has been yearning for, but for him to do that he will have to break away from the grip of certain factions in his party.
He must believe that the voters will reward him for doing the right things for the country even at the cost of his party’s “unity”.