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By William Saunderson-Meyer

Journalist


Ramaphosa’s sunny horizon

The ANC is, on the face of it, in a better shape for the as yet ungazetted general election than it was just a couple of months back.


What a difference a few months can make in politics. The dithering President Cyril Ramaphosa may have been unable or unwilling for more than five years to make the most quotidian of governance decisions, but he is sailing into 2024 on something of a high. The ANC is today, on the face of it, in an infinitely better shape for the as yet ungazetted general election than it was just a couple of months back. ALSO READ: Unrealistic: Another term for Zuma is a pipe dream Consequently, there has been something of a scramble as commentators have walked back confident…

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What a difference a few months can make in politics.

The dithering President Cyril Ramaphosa may have been unable or unwilling for more than five years to make the most quotidian of governance decisions, but he is sailing into 2024 on something of a high.

The ANC is today, on the face of it, in an infinitely better shape for the as yet ungazetted general election than it was just a couple of months back.

ALSO READ: Unrealistic: Another term for Zuma is a pipe dream

Consequently, there has been something of a scramble as commentators have walked back confident earlier predictions of the ANC’s defeat.

There’s been a sudden lull, too, in all the cocky talk from opposition parties. Part of it is the often underestimated power of incumbency.

The ruling party has enormous power to set the political agenda.

At the bottom end, it can dole out new bakkies to traditional leaders, as the Limpopo government has done.

At the top end, it can renege on its hand-on-heart promises to curb the public service wage bill. But it is on the international stage that Ramaphosa has shown he remains a masterful strategist.

ALSO READ: Mbalula ‘gag’ is dismissed by the ANC

That the genocide charge against Israel at the International Court of Justice is unlikely to stick, doesn’t much matter.

Any interim intervention by the ICJ, no matter how minor, will be hailed by the SA government and Palestinian-supporting nations as a major victory. It will also add lustre to the ANC’s conceit that it is the moral standard-bearer of a new, post-Western, order.

And it will also play well with the Muslim vote. The DA is already feeling the heat. In December, it sacked Ghaleb Cachalia from its shadow Cabinet for accusing Israel of genocide. On Thursday, Cachalia resigned.

The ICJ appeal has coincided with an end to the ANC’s desperate financial situation. In December, it was facing bankruptcy over its inability to settle a R120 million debt.

Now, it is suddenly again flush with cash. All its many creditors have been paid and it’s gearing up another billion-rand election campaign.

It is unsurprising, then, that there has been speculation that the apparent windfall may be a little thank you gift from Iran or Qatar.

At the same time as bestriding the world as a diplomatic colossus – the promised brokered peace between Ukraine and Russia may yet happen – Ramaphosa continues to elude his opposition rivals.

ALSO READ: ANC gags Mbalula over Zuma’s Nkandla fire pool comments

The Multi-Party Coalition seems slack-sailed and adrift. It has yet to appoint a leader, a prerequisite to drawing voter interest. The Change Starts Now (CSN) party, heavily punted by some to bridge the gap between the ANC and the Democratic Alliance-dominated MPC, is in similar disarray.

There’s been no rush of former ANC heavyweights to join, Jardine hasn’t strode into the top MPC job as was expected and few people, as yet, seem to have a clue who he is.

All this should have Ramaphosa salivating with anticipation.

With the always formidable ANC election machine now freshly lubed up financially, an early election date might prove fatal to an opposition that is in disarray. The only cloud on sunny Cyril’s horizon is Jacob Zuma.

The ANC has been caught flat-footed by Zuma endorsing a new party – cheekily named uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) after the ANC’s now disbanded military wing – while refusing to resign from the ANC.

ALSO READ: Bus tragedy: Ramaphosa soothes broken hearts

Because Zuma has a criminal record, he cannot stand for election. But he remains popular. He can cause damage in KwaZulu-Natal.

Given the ANC’s vulnerability, it may not take much. If the election is close, just a couple of percentage points in support lost to MK could make all the difference.

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