In all the euphoria and celebration over former president Jacob Zuma’s unexpected resignation, it escapes most people that it would have been much better for the ANC and the country if he was removed, as planned, by a motion of no confidence.
If you listened to Mr Zuma’s late-night resignation speech, you may recall him saying: “No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as President of the Republic with immediate effect.”
Rather than this being hailed as a magnanimous gesture, it must be seen for what it is: a Machiavellian masterstroke, which ensures that the toxic cadres who still support Mr Zuma’s insidious agenda, remain in the ANC.
Were he to have done as expected – refuse to step down afer the national executive committee (NEC) recalled him and opt to be removed by an ANC-supported motion of no confidence – the long-awaited next split in the party may well have occured, and the self-interested dross that has perpetuated the myth that Mr Zuma was a great leader, would probably have left the party of their own accord, and formed a new party – another coalition of the wounded – like those who formed Cope.
The other benefit of a motion of no confidence would have been the resignation of the entire executive.
Aside from the terrifying prospect of National Assembly (NA) Speaker, Baleka Mbete, being sworn in as acting president for up to 30 days while the NA went about the business of electing a new president – inevitably Mr Ramaphosa – it would also have cleaned out the dross in cabinet put there by Mr Zuma, to further his personal agenda.
Mr Ramaphosa would have been able to appoint a cabinet of capable technocrats whose focus would be on rebuilding our shattered country and economy.
That he will scale down the bloated monstrosity Mr Zuma created to give many of his pals jobs is obvious, but once more, he will have to make some compromises. Not everyone who should go, will go.
Instead, President Cyril Ramaphosa must now tread less surely than he would have done, as he progresses his clean-up agenda, and sets about trying to satisfy the expectations that his election, first as ANC president and subsequently as president of the republic, have unfortunately engendered.
Sadly, Mr Ramaphosa is in some respects like Barrack Obama when he first came to office. His carefully constructed and masterfully executed election campaign created expectations in the American electorate that elevated him to near messianic status. That he was not able to satisfy those expectations is axiomatic, and Mr Ramaphosa, through no fault of his own, faces the same dilemma.
Mr Ramaphosa will no doubt need to extend some measure of appeasement to the Zuma-faction that remains in the ANC, to avoid his agenda being white-anted.
A cabinet post for also-ran Nkosasana Dlamini Zuma, perhaps, or retaining in cabinet the likes of Bathabile Dlamini, albeit it in a post where she can do little real harm. Who knows?
Despite the prophecies of doom after the ANC’s 45th elective conference in December, that Mr Ramaphosa’s frighteningly narrow victory would hamstring him in pursuit of his reformist agenda, this has not been the case.
The supposed 50/50 split in the ANC Top Six is a fallacy, as is the notion that with an almost evenly divided NEC, and for that matter the national working committee (NWC), he would have great difficulty in pursuing his policy agenda.
Mr Ramaphosa’s decisive action while Mr Zuma was still president of the republic in replacing the Eskom board, gives lie to that notion.
Arch Zumerites, Ace Magashule and Jesse Duarte, are on the backfoot, evidenced by the NEC’s decision to make them deliver to Mahlamba Ndlopfu its decision that Mr Zuma was to be recalled.
The extent of Ms Duarte’s devotion to Mr Zuma was evident in the ANC press conference after his unexpected resignation, in her vomitous eulogy to his ruinous nine years in office, during which she had the temerity to liken Mr Zuma to that greatest of democrats and ANC presidents, Oliver Reginald Tambo.
Ms Duarte is not alone in her adulation of Mr Zuma. Mr Magashule, too, exposed his bias, when asked during that same press conference, for reasons why Mr Zuma was to be recalled.
Despite the overwhelming evidence in the public domain to the contrary, Mr Magashule soulfully intoned: “President Zuma has done nothing wrong.”
With the Trojan Horse of Zuma supporters remaining in the ANC it means Mr Ramaphosa will have to tread carefully, and it will take him longer to do what must be done.
Get much of it done he undoubtedly will, but like Barrack Obama, when people look back on Mr Ramaphosa’s presidency, the inevitable conclusion will be that he failed to live up to expectations.
Such is the curse of leadership elevated to the messianic.