Douglas Gibson | 22 January 2019Douglas Gibson says President’s true enemies are in the ANC, his natural allies in the opposition
Vote DA to strengthen Cyril’s hand.
The illogicality of some columnists who are actually urging opposition voters to “vote for Cyril to strengthen his hand” is astounding.
Firstly, one cannot vote for Cyril Ramaphosa. He is elected by Parliament, not by the people.
Secondly, if one votes for the ANC, more ANC MPs will be elected, without any guarantee that they belong to Cyril’s faction. Ramaphosa is not in a position to ensure that his own faction’s supporters are even nominated, let alone elected, while keeping the anti-lot out. More ANC MPs might even mean more enemies of Ramaphosa in the caucus, not fewer, making it even more difficult for him. The ANC organisation is controlled by the Secretary-General, Ace Magashule of Free State and Estina dairy project fame. His deputy is Jesse Duarte: Zuma supporter and mother in law of one of the Gupta appointed “advisers” to the weekend special finance minister, Des van Rooyen.
Thirdly, it has become clear, with almost daily revelations of corruption, that the ANC is a political party that has lost its soul to venality and corruption at every level. Not every ANC representative is corrupt but an amazing number of Ministers, MPs, MPLs and deployees of the ANC to every thinkable post in our society are corrupt. The level of competence displayed explains completely why almost every facet of government is stuttering to a halt with virtually no examples of efficient, good government. It is challenging to think of more than one or two – neither of which readily comes to mind.
It boggles the mind to consider rewarding the ANC for its record over the past quarter century by electing more ANC MPs, hoping the president will change all that. He remained quiet and failed to give any positive lead during his many years as Zuma’s loyal and supportive deputy right from Mangaung up until shortly before the end of Zuma. All the looting, the corruption, the misgovernment, the state capture went on under his nose, either without his noticing what was going on, or else if he did notice, then in the face of his conscious decision to keep quiet. Some people suggest he was playing a “long game” aimed at succeeding Zuma. Others believe that this indicates that he was prepared to place his own future interests above those of his country, despite his oath of office.
To win his party election, Ramaphosa he was prepared to do a deal with David Mabuza, now our deputy president: the man who is one heart-beat away from the presidency. Mabuza is remembered for his appalling record as premier of Mpumalanga and is not regarded highly in ethical circles. Every one of our presidents after Mandela has been deputy president (Motlanthe, that very decent man, was deputy after his stint as president). A few years after President Mbeki scored the biggest election victory in the ANC’s history, he was “recalled,” ANC speak for “fired.” Zuma was also recalled. If the ANC has a big enough majority it could easily dump Ramaphosa and install Mabuza as our president. Mabuza swopped sides at the last moment in the last ANC election. To wear the crown, he would certainly be prepared to woo the Zuma faction again.
The way to avoid that is to ensure that if the ANC has a majority, it should be a small one. The ANC will then not have the gall to recall Ramaphosa, knowing that this could have serious electoral consequences. Fear of the electorate would keep it in check after a generation in power. The larger the DA opposition, the better chance there would be of the government eschewing political game-playing and trying to govern the country properly.
An interesting and not altogether impossible alternative would be to deny the ANC a governing majority, leaving Ramaphosa with a choice of coalition partners: the DA or the EFF. Most people at this stage assume that Ramaphosa would choose the EFF. I don’t believe it. If that were really so, it would tell one all about the man and his party. Would he seriously choose to put Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu in his cabinet and in return for EFF support, move the policies of the government in a racist, anti-white, anti- constitution, anti- market economy direction? If that was his choice one would need the largest and most effective opposition in our history to counter the years of night the country would face.
On the other hand, if Ramaphosa chose to go into a coalition with the DA, by far the largest multi-racial party, nothing could be more certain to open the floodgates of growth, of fairness to all, of job opportunities, of educational advance, of local and international business and investor confidence. Such a grand coalition is not unthinkable: it would need a very carefully detailed coalition agreement setting out the priorities and the policies of the government to be formed and it is perfectly possible to see Ramaphosa and Mmusi Maimane co-operating in the interests of the country.
What South Africa needs more than anything else in the longer term is a political realignment enabling the socialists, the communists and those who believe in the failed economic policies of the early twentieth to hive off, leaving the rump of the ANC and most of the DA to join hands in a new governing party that could help the country achieve the astounding promise it had in 1994 and shake off the joblessness, the corruption, the increasing racism, the mediocrity, the shabbiness, the failure of the last fifteen and more years.
Giving the ANC an increased majority now would be an entirely unmerited and illogical reward, whereas giving the DA an increased vote could unlock very significant developments to the great benefit of South Africa.
Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and a former ambassador to Thailand. His website is douglasgibsonsouthafrica.com.
A version of this article first appeared in the Financial Mail.