Damned either way, Cyril

Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Sarah Makoe.

Despite having engineered the early demise of Jacob Zuma’s presidency, President Cyril Ramaphosa still comes up short in the eyes of so many of my light-skinned compatriots.

The degree of righteous indignation that accompanied his reshuffled cabinet, was akin to what greeted so many of the Zuma-era cabinet reshuffles, but for different reasons.

Whereas Mr Zuma was seen to always be going too far in the wrong direction – he did appoint some abysmally useless cadres to vital portfolios over the years – President Ramaphosa is seen to not have gone far enough in the right direction.

An observation that President Ramaphosa’s new cabinet was “not bad” on social media engendered a storm of righteous indignation that he ought to have fired the likes of Malusi “Empty Suit” Gigaba, Bathabile “Smallanyana skeletons” Dlamini and Nomvula “Pick it up” Mokonyane as well, or appointing DD Mabuza as his deputy.

That he has also not summarily dismissed and replaced SARS commissioner Tom “Hollow Man” Moyane or National Director of Public Prosecution (NDPP) Shaun “The Sheep” Abrahams also resulted in a veritable social media storm, as was his apparent disinclination to urge the prosecutorial and investigative services to more diligently pursue those who have been fingered in state capture and other forms of malfeasance.

A case in point is the frustrating yet ultimately comical to-ing and fro-ing last week about the citizenship status of various members of the Gupta family.

Despite three press conferences at which tortuous attempts were made to explain what happened when and why, Home Affairs DG Mkuseli Apleni and spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete did little other than sow further confusion about the Guptas’ citizenship status, which handily makes Home Affairs look utterly incompetent.

Mr Gigaba’s convenient no-show in Parliament on Friday, courtesy of an unsigned sick note read out by House Speaker Baleka Mbete to hoots of derision, hammered yet another nail in his political coffin, and telegraphs President Ramaphosa’s long game.

What better place to put Mr Gigaba, than back at Home Affairs when the pressure for answers about the Guptas’ citizenship status is escalating?

And let’s not forget, that on the very day Mr Gigaba delivered President Ramaphosa’s first budget speech, it emerged that the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria said of Mr Gigaba: “By telling a deliberate untruth on facts central to the decision of this case, the minister has committed a breach of the constitution so serious that I would characterise it as a violation.”

The case in question, between Minister of Home Affairs and Fireblade Aviation (Pty) Ltd, relates to a long running battle to get Home Affairs to provide ad-hoc immigration services at a private seven star air terminal at OR Tambo International Airport, reversed at the last minute by Mr Gigaba despite documented agreement having been reached between all parties.

The best way to get rid of compromised cadres who enjoy the support of the toxic, acquisitive Zuma faction, a substantive proportion of which remains in the NEC, NWC and many ANC provincial structures, is to let the law take its course, as it undoubtedly will.

When that happens, President Ramaphosa can throw up his hands in horror when the likes of Mr Gigaba, Ms Dlamini, Ms Mokonyane, and Mr Mabuza are called to account for their alleged transgressions, reminding the ANC that at its 54th elective conference, it resolved to root out corruption without fear or favour.

He will have little option but to do to the accused, what Thabo Mbeki did to Jacob Zuma: fire them.

As much as Mr Gigaba has much to answer for legally, so too does Ms Dlamini over the SA Social Security Agency debacle, Ms Mokonyane over the destruction of the Department of Water and Sanitation, and if any of the allegations levelled at Deputy President Mabuza prove to be true, then so too will he.

When it comes to NDPP Mr Abrahams, it is deeply puzzling that the general public believe it would be appropriate for President Ramaphosa to tell the NDPP to proceed expeditiously with the prosecution of Mr Zuma on the 18 charges and 783 counts.

Were he to do so, he would be doing exactly what Mr Zuma was regularly accused of doing: interfering where the law says he may not.

Besides, it would also give Mr Zuma his get out of gaol free card, on the grounds that the prosecution was politically motivated.

The Constitutional Court will set aside Mr Abrahams’ appeal against the High Court judgment declaring his appointment as NDPP irregular, at which point President Ramaphosa will remove him from office and appoint a successor.

If that person proceeds with the prosecution of Mr Zuma, there can be no suggestion of political motivation or interference.

With Nhlanhla Nene back at the helm in Treasury, Mr Moyane’s days are numbered.

His decline started with the ham-fisted and transparent bungling of trumped up charges, subsequently withdrawn, against Johan van Loggerenberg, Ivan Pillay, Oupa Magashule and Pravin Gordhan, in cahoots with ex-Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza and NDPP Mr Abrahams, and the deeply embarrassing imbroglio of the KPMG SARS Rogue Unit report.

The recent decision to pursue Johan van Loggerenberg and Ivan Pillay once more, along with Andries Janse van Rensburg, on charges of having spied on the Scorpions 10 years ago, will end in a further embarrassing climb-down, and provide the final nail in his political coffin.

That President Ramaphosa’s entire strategy is focused on ensuring the ANC retains its majority in the 2019 election is obvious.

Nonetheless, the country will benefit from his masterful long game.