DA chief whip, John Steenhuisen, speaking last Thursday night at the Mensa Winelands chapter monthly meeting, presents the compelling argument that President Cyril Ramaphosa was forced into a number of compromises that will limit his effectiveness in excising the rot that has come to characterise the ANC in the last ten years.
Granted, the last minute switch in loyalties by Deputy President DD Mabuza did ensure that Mr Ramaphosa squeaked in with a narrow margin to defeat the perpetuation of the years of Zuma-led wrecking-ball destruction that would have come to pass if Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had managed to seize the brass ring.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of that scenario, would have been the malevolent self-interested hand of Jacob Zuma, as the putative power behind the throne of his ex-wife, and the perpetuation of the wholesale plundering of the public purse for private gain we have witnessed in the recent past.
That the country would never have survived another ten years of populist-inspired but useless radical socio-economic transformation, expropriation of private property, and a rapidly expanding social safety net without the underpinning tax base to support it, is axiomatic, but if Dr Dlamini-Zuma had won, that’s what would have happened.
Granted, the hand of Mr Rampaphosa is to some extent stayed by the deal he had to strike with Mr Mabuza – that he become deputy president of the country – but the suggestion that he is without agency in cleaning up his cabinet, or in managing his way through the expropriation without compensation (EWC) quandary, is mistaken.
Mr Steenhuisen would also have us believe – because it suits the electoral agenda of the DA – that Mr Ramaphosa is hamstrung by the divisions in the ANC Top Six, the national working committee (NEC) and the national working committee, but that too is incorrect.
He chooses to ignore Mr Ramaphosa’s track record as a master strategist and negotiator, traits which he deployed in the leading role he played in crafting our relatively peaceful transition to a democratic order.
Mr Ramaphosa was harshly criticised for keeping in cabinet the likes of Nomvula Mokonyane, Malusi Gigaba and Bathabile Dlamini among others, and for appointing Dr Dlamini-Zuma to his cabinet, but his strategy is clear for those who wish to see it.
Nomvula Mokonyane has already been fingered for alleged tender irregularities in her previous role as water and sanitation minister, that contributed to the virtual bankruptcy of that ministry. Inevitably, the ensuing investigation will uncover any wrongdoing and if the evidence is there, she will go down, but through no direct agency by Mr Ramaphosa.
Malusi Gigaba, back at Home Affairs, where he must answer for the citizenship status of the Gupta family, is on the ropes over the Fireblade terminal matter, which will see him losing his cabinet post when his petition for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court, already struck down by the Supreme Court of Appeals, is similarly struck down. The court a quo found that he lied, which goes to the heart of the matter. Again, his removal from cabinet will come about because the ANC resolved in December that it would relentlessly root out corruption.
Bathabile Dlamini, demoted to the ministry of women in the office of the presidency – an overt slap in the face for women in general – is also on the ropes over the ongoing SA Social Security Agency and social grants debacle, with court after court finding against her. There is an inevitability to her removal from cabinet, once the truth emerges behind the continued presence of the utterly untransformed Cash Paymaster Services and Net One, in the social grants payment chain.
And what of Ace Magashule, one might ask? Well, the recent decision of the public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to reopen the investigation into the Estina dairy farm with specific focus on the politicians involved, will likely result in his demise from the Top Six, not to mention retribution for Mosebenzi Zwane for the part he is alleged to have played. The Hawks have already raided Mr Magashule’s old office in search of evidence.
And Dr Dlamini-Zuma is where she ought to be. Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer still.
And finally the rumour that Mr Zuma, as a past president, may take a seat on the NEC is also a non-issue. When proceedings get under way on June 8 in the Durban High Court, he’ll have his hands full trying desperately to stay out of gaol.
So, without lifting a finger, unless resolutions of the December elective conference compel him to, Mr Ramaphosa can sit back and watch each of the flies in his administration’s ointment be eliminated.
The wheels of justice grind slowly, but, as Mr Ramaphosa knows, they grind finely.