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By William Saunderson-Meyer


Ramaphosa’s reckoning: SA’s disillusionment with leadership

The situation that the ANC finds itself in is not because of an unforeseen event. Rather, it results from the naivete and lack of backbone of Ramaphosa.

Cyril Ramaphosa came into office widely touted as SA’s master strategist and its unrivalled conciliator. Five and a half years later those reputations are deservedly in ruins.

The country is on its knees as measured by almost any social or economic index. The fragility of our democracy is not only more evident, but the social cohesion necessary to sustain democracy has eroded alarmingly.

When he ousted Jacob Zuma he was hailed across the political spectrum. But he blew it completely. He sacrificed the interests of the nation to instead favour the ANC. But his actions have also accelerated the decline of his party.

The latest polls suggest that almost one in three of the ANC voters who gave him his governing mandate in 2019 will switch to another party on 29 May.

The ANC has been rocked by three successive surveys that peg its support between the mid-30s and mid-40s. In KwaZulu-Natal, all three surveys have the ANC at 11%-13%.

Instead, they will be voting for Zuma, with the four-month-old uMKhonto weSizwe (MK) party estimated to be at 10%-15%.

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This week, further compounding Ramaphosa’s undoubted anguish, the Electoral Court overturned the decision by the Electoral Commission of South Africa to remove Zuma from MK’s electoral list.

It rubs salt in the wounds inflicted on Ramaphosa just a week earlier by the same Electoral Court, which dismissed an ANC application to have the MK’s electoral registration declared unlawful.

The final spin of the tumblers needed to score an MK trifecta is a judgment awaited in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban. There, the ANC argued that it held copyright on the MK name and symbols.

The situation that the ANC finds itself in is not because of an unforeseen event. Rather, it results from the naivete and lack of backbone of Ramaphosa in acting against the criminal elements in his party.

It is Ramaphosa who has done nothing to fasttrack the prosecution of ANC bigwigs implicated by the Zondo commission in state capture. It is Ramaphosa who, by tacit complicity in Zuma’s medical parole, has unshackled his own nemesis.

It is Ramaphosa who granted the conveniently timed nationwide remission of sentence that spared Zuma from having to go to jail when the parole was overturned judicially.

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And, for goodness sake, it’s the ANC, of which Ramaphosa is the national leader, that bizarrely has suspended Zuma from the party, but has not yet dared to expel him.

How useful for Zuma when, post-election, he makes a reverse takeover bid for the ANC which he once said would rule until Jesus returns.

Unless the rapture occurs over the next decade or so, Zuma may have it right. While few commentators see the ANC surviving beyond the 2029 election, that could change should the soft-left ANC team up nationally with their hardleft offspring lurking in the basement.

The arithmetic is straightforward. Take the ANC’s predicted 35%-45%, add in 10%-15% for MK and 9%-16% for the EFF.

Such a coalition would have at least a comfortable national majority, around what Ramaphosa managed in 2019. With all cylinders firing, it could match Thabo Mbeki’s 2009 achievement of a two-thirds majority.

Despite 30 years of valiant effort, the centre-right bloc is as far from outright national victory as it ever was.

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