OPINION | Well done, Cyril, but move fast. The state capture gang is out to get you
We can now say, with absolute certainty, that the greatest threat to growth and development in SA is the ANC. Not all of the ANC, mind you, but nearly half – if not more - of the ANC. The evidence is there for all of us to see.
Think back on the past week. It was such a joy to watch President Cyril Ramaphosa as he delivered his State of the Nation speech. Everything about his hour and a half of intense airtime said: he gets it. He gets the fact that the nine years of Jacob Zuma in power were an absolute disaster. He gets the fact that investment and jobs are what we need. He gets the fact that recycling useless populist claptrap from Venezuela and Zimbabwe helps no one. He gets the fact that corruption has reached pandemic proportions.
The man didn’t just give a solid analysis of where we are, but cogent plans about how we get out of here. How do we stop the rampant looting of our country’s resources and bring those responsible to book? Reinstate a new-wave Scorpions, put Shamila Batohi at the top of the National Prosecuting Authority and begin the slow and hard work of restoring dignity and efficiency to those broken institutions.
State-owned enterprises also received his attention. Eskom, for example, will be remodelled and split into three state-owned entities dealing with generation, transmission and distribution. The burning land question? He said the government had identified land parcels owned by the state for redistribution as part of accelerating land reform.
On our national intelligence services, which have become a piggy bank for criminals pretending to be James Bond, he announced plans to reform them into a more useful and savvy domestic and international service.
Scan across the speech and you will realise that the country certainly seems to have a vision and a plan under Ramaphosa. Since he ascended to power in 2018 there have been incremental gains: state capture is being exposed by the Zondo commission right before our eyes; institutions such as the SA Revenue Service are being brought back to life; many of those who looted the state are facing serious – if slow – investigation.
Ramaphosa also leads men and women who are serious about their jobs. Tito Mboweni, despite being seemingly bored with his job, is such a solid pair of hands at the national treasury. Pravin Gordhan is a systematic ace at public enterprises. Appointments such as that of Shamila Batohi in key institutions are hugely encouraging.
Yet, instead of facing opposition from the Economic Freedom Fighters or the Democratic Alliance, the greatest danger to Ramaphosa and his reform plan is the enemy within. There is absolutely no doubt that the Zuma faction of the ANC has launched its fightback campaign.
In North West, those who have brought the province to its knees through corruption – the Supra Mahumapelo faction – were celebrating last week after he won a court battle and was reinstated as the party chairman. In the meantime, the likes of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and others are on a policy face-off with Ramaphosa, contradicting him on the independence of the Reserve Bank and the land reform programme. From their language you would think they are in the EFF, not the ANC. Meanwhile, late-night meetings to plot Ramaphosa’s downfall take place in hotels in KwaZulu-Natal and elsewhere.
This grouping has every right to be afraid because Ramaphosa’s success means only one thing: many of them will go to jail. Zuma is personally named regularly in every case of state capture and bribery. Magashule’s scandals from the Free State are as regular as clockwork. Pick a scandal and a member of the Zuma faction is implicated. This is not a battle for the soul of the ANC. It is a battle for survival. It is a battle for the corrupt to continue to loot.
Their game plan? They want to continue to destabilise and rattle Ramaphosa until May 8, when the elections are held, and then ramp up their campaign after that so they can try to unseat him at the ANC’s 2020 midterm conference, the national general council. At this conference they will accuse him of failing to implement resolutions on changing section 25 of the Constitution and on nationalisation of the central bank, whether this is prudent or not.
The only way for Ramaphosa to win is to move with haste on his reforms. Institutions need to start arresting people, charging them and prosecuting them. Moving slowly emboldens those who would undermine him and our democracy...