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By William Saunderson-Meyer


It’s ‘God’s chosen’ Mkhwebane vs ‘Mr Clean’ Ramaphosa

One could have a R500K campaign donation unseating a president whose predecessor remains legally unscathed, despite literally billions stolen.

At the moment, our politics are a bit like bare-knuckle boxing. Both appalling and riveting.

The May election was pitched by the ANC establishment, as well as sympathetic media commentators, as an unambiguous battle between good and evil. This, they argued, would be a must-win showdown between the anti-corruption ANC of Cyril Ramaphosa and the state-capture ANC of Jacob Zuma.

Well, Ramaphosa won the conventional battle handily, but Zuma’s forces show no sign of surrender and have simply gone guerrilla.

This week, the former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini, dropped by Ramaphosa from the Cabinet, resigned as MP. Her rambling resignation letter made veiled warnings of “foreign elements” steering the ANC off course; predicted Ramaphosa’s early exit; accused the wives of unnamed ministers of corrupt practices; and accused Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan of murky dealings at the behest of the banks.

One can expect further accusations from disgruntled Zuma-ites who are being dumped from key ANC positions. Their challenge is to smear the Ramaphosa administration with enough detail to sway public opinion.

The Zupta forces also have a powerful ally. Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane is flailing energetically at the Ramaphosa grouping and is inflicting real damage, at least in public perceptions, if not by so far uncovering anything of prosecutorial substance.

Nevertheless, it would be an enormous setback for the reformists if Gordhan was neutralised by the fallout from at least four new investigations that Mkhwebane has launched to examine accusations against him. These inquiries relate to matters that, in some cases, date back a decade and have been investigated half a dozen times already.

A greater setback to the reformists would be if the president, Mr Clean himself, was linked directly to corruption. Mkhwebane’s dogged investigation into whether Ramaphosa had knowledge of tainted funds, donated via his son, to his 2017 campaign for the party presidency, is clearly politically driven, given her earlier reluctance to engage substantively with the shenanigans of Zuma and his cronies.

This is make-or-break stuff. If the report is typical Mkhwebane – in other words, so legally inept or patently partisan that it is reversed on appeal – she will almost certainly face recall. If it withstands judicial scrutiny, Ramaphosa will face enormous pressure to go quietly or be fired.

It would be most ironic. One would have a R500,000 campaign donation unseating a president whose predecessor remains legally unscathed, despite a decade-long presidency marked by literally billions stolen.

On past history, however, the worst is unlikely to happen. Every one of Mkhwebane reports challenged in court has been overturned.

Mkhwebane confided on Twitter that it was God that had appointed her and only He who could remove her.

As for those who had “insulted” her, she had a way to deal with them as well. She was in the process of opening cases against them in terms of the Public Protector Act.

It’s going to be an awfully crowded dock.

William Saunderson-Meyer

William Saunderson-Meyer.

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Busisiwe Mkhwebane Columns Cyril Ramaphosa