OPINION | Ramaphosa needs a stronger spine

PREMIUM

Twenty years ago, Peter Bruce, then editor of Financial Mail, exercised his editorial independence and endorsed a political party for the 1999 general elections. That was the new UDM party led by Bantu Holomisa, who had recently been expelled from the ANC.
The owners of the company that published the Financial Mail at the time came down on Bruce like a ton of bricks. Hell hath no fury like a newspaper owner scorned.
In Bruce’s telling of it, the strong rebuke was delivered by one Cyril Ramaphosa, who was chair of Johnnic Communications. He also was a member of the ANC NEC. So there was no conflict of interest in his rebuke of the journalist! Oh no …
Until three years earlier Ramaphosa had been the leader of the parliamentary committee that drafted the constitution, one of whose highlights is the right to freedom of expression. Perhaps being a journalist under his employ curtailed that right?
The wrath of the owners restrained Bruce for 20 years from endorsing any political party again. He was to find his voice again after retiring last year.
Ironically the main beneficiary of Bruce’s newfound freedom was the same Ramaphosa, who Bruce has been endorsing enthusiastically as the only hope to put SA firmly on the reform path. He has indeed delivered on many of the urgent reforms needed.
Only last week he fired Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi from the National Prosecuting Authority. They follow former SA Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane into the pit occupied by former president Jacob Zuma and Gupta lackeys. Other state capture lackeys Ramaphosa has flushed down the Zupta toilet include former finance minister Malusi Gigaba, former Eskom crybaby Brian Molefe and Ben Ngubane, Anoj Singh, Matshela Koko and Lynne Brown.
Thinking people cannot dispute that Ramaphosa should be SA’s best possible reform candidate. But for anyone to fix what’s wrong, a spine of steel is needed. Ramaphosa seems to reserve that resolve for relatively lowly officials like Jiba and Mrwebi, and lowly and unworthy politicians such as former ministers David “Des” van Rooyen and Mosebenzi Zwane.
Not once has Ramaphosa faced down the politically powerful in his own party.
Not once has he taken any unpopular decisions. The Eskom crisis and the land expropriation debate are crying out for principled leadership.
The talk about nationalisation of the SA Reserve Bank needs to be stamped out by a leader with an iron will.
The jobs crisis and lack of growth are crying out for leadership, not political spinelessness.
Only a reduced ANC majority can embolden him to accelerate the reform project. Only a stronger opposition can safeguard him.
So today, and unlike Bruce, I will not wait for retirement to endorse the best candidate for parliament. My natural choice would be Holomisa, a good and honest man. Unfortunately he is a good man without a plan.
That leaves the DA as the only party to keep the many thieves in the ANC and EFF in check. That is a DA minus Mmusi Maimane, who has failed to transform it into a champion of the black masses...

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