Judge by their deeds, not words
That sort of naive hope and behaviour mimics exactly what happened in 2007, when even with the malodorous pus pouring out of the Jacob Zuma campaign (stalked by rape and corruption allegations) some still said the “man of the people” would turn out good.
Zuma was no man of the people and his tenure has been a nightmare.
Care should be taken this time around, for there are very few or no saints and angels in the pack that’s running for ANC office now. Take Lindiwe Sisulu, for example. The human settlements minister has crisscrossed the country saying that she promises better governance, more focus on the people and a return to ANC values.
That’s rich given that this is someone who fought vociferously for Zuma to get into power. Once Zuma was installed in Mahlamba Ndlopfu, Sisulu never once raised her voice as Zuma slept on the job, killed the economy and handed taxpayer billions to the Gupta family and his relatives. A coup happened right in front of Sisulu and she never once said a word as her illustrious family’s legacy was trampled upon. Her vows to clean up the ANC and government now are just about as believable as the rattling of an empty can.
Then there is Baleka Mbete, an ANC leader who has for the past 10 years failed comprehensively to make Zuma accountable on any issue. One really need not waste too much time on this candidate – every outrage the Zuma executive has carried out has her fingerprints all over it. She totally eunuched the legislature. The prospect of a Mbete presidency should make every South African quiver with dread.
Jeff Radebe says he will clean up government and the country and set us all on the road to prosperity. After 10 years in the Zuma administration, plus 23 years in government, we are expected to believe that, miraculously, Radebe will deliver. Oh, by the way, what exactly has the minister had to say about ANC policy towards those like Zuma who have brought this “glorious movement” of Mandela and others into disrepute? Nothing. Instead, he has been a willing and even enthusiastic praise-singer of Zuma.
Who else is there? Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has embraced the Zuma administration’s ideas, policy outlook and encouragement of corruption. By all means ANC members should vote for her in December. At least they know exactly what they are getting: Zuma with a medical degree – and the Guptas.
Zweli Mkhize also got Zuma into power in 2007. He also only found his backbone in March this year after Zuma’s chaotic and criminal cabinet reshuffle. For the past 10 years he has been part of the cabal that has suckled Zuma’s corrupt presidency of the ANC and the country. His response to his role in the Zuma rape matter last weekend was mealy-mouthed and lacked credibility and authenticity. His only credit is that he is the man who got Des van Rooyen bundled out of National Treasury in December 2015.
The biggest disappointment is Cyril Ramaphosa. This former mineworker leader has an incredible history – trade unionist, democracy negotiator, astute businessman, deal maker and philanthropist. In the run-up to the ANC conference in 2012 it was clear that many wanted Ramaphosa – but not enough to unseat Zuma, who had essentially rigged the 2012 ANC elections by ensuring that provinces and branches that supported him were dominant at the conference. Ramaphosa dumped principle and joined in with Zuma. By doing so he gave Zuma legitimacy. The period between January 2013 – when Zuma returned from Mangaung – and now has seen the most comprehensive and astounding looting spree of the democratic era. Zuma and the Guptas plunged their hands into the coffers of state-owned enterprises like Eskom and Transnet and looted with gay abandon.
Where was Ramaphosa? He was silent. He was silent when the Nkandla report was tabled, silent when Nhlanhla Nene was fired, silent when Pravin Gordhan was charged, silent when the public protector’s State of Capture report was ignored. His silence has allowed Zuma to do as he pleases. Ramaphosa has failed to realise that his illustrious history has been abused to whitewash the Zuma criminal enterprise.
Ramaphosa’s silence in the face of all this corruption has given Zuma legitimacy. Until the cabinet reshuffle in March, the man never said a word. The price of all that is what we see now. Ramaphosa’s silence endorses Busisiwe Mkhwebane and undermines Thuli Madonsela; it emboldened Des van Rooyen and left Mcebisi Jonas lonely, confused and crestfallen. Ramaphosa may have been a hero once, but he is not one now. His silence has meant that he is just another politician in a shiny suit trying to get one over the electorate so that he can be the next Jacob Zuma.
If any of these leaders want to tell us that they are about change, then they need to explain what they have been doing over the past 10 years as South Africa went from a globally admired country to the politically and economically stagnant, corrupt and compromised entity it is today. They cannot say they did not know. They knew 10 years ago when they ululated and celebrated as a corrupt Zuma danced and giggled his way to power.