OPINION | Ramaphosa wise to keep his focus at home

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year.
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa was wise to give the annual World Economic Forum jamboree in Switzerland a miss and stay home.

SA’s economic woes and the debacle at Eskom mean there is precious little our president could have offered to attract the global captains of trade and industry.

And, crucially, Ramaphosa urgently needs to focus on domestic matters, not least the machinations in his own party, the ANC.

Speculation is rife about a plot to limit Ramaphosa’s rule to a single term. His reformist grouping is rightly under pressure over the lacklustre economy and the ongoing nightmare of Eskom’s burgeoning debt and the recent nationwide power cuts.

Ramaphosa’s opponents, inside and outside the ANC, are baying for public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan to fall. This is something of a proxy battle, with the president the real target and the battlefield likely to be the party’s midyear national general council.

The scheme to unseat Ramaphosa and his allies is being keenly pursued by some senior ANC leaders and their allies, even though political upheaval would further deter potential investors and hammer the economy. Sadly, it would seem personal ambition and greed trumps the national good for many at the top of the ANC and its alliance partners.

The divisions in the ruling party have long made it all but impossible for any leader to firmly and consistently follow through on policy. These fissures have all but paralysed Ramaphosa, who as recently as last year’s elections was entrusted with the hopes and aspirations of so many ordinary people.

If one follows the money, as the saying goes, there is little doubt that certain people linked to the ruling party are set on retaining Eskom as a feeding trough, not least through coal supply and power station repair contracts.

This is doubtless the tip of the iceberg. The potential for feeding off the state at all levels of government in all parts of the country remains, and the Zuma fightback camp meanwhile is hell-bent on avoiding prosecution and returning to power.

All of this means that 2020 is likely to be a watershed year for SA.