South Africa’s confidence in Cyril takes a dive amid Covid looting binge

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa

It is undeniable that, at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, President Cyril Ramaphosa had the support of most South Africans as he took the podium to lead the country in a fight against a vicious hidden killer.

Crises can singularly effect positive change in individual or corporate life. We hoped this coronavirus crisis would create the necessary opportunity for a lasting break with SA’s ignoble recent history, force a return to the founding values of our democracy and ensure a radical rebuilding of the social fabric.

Instead, the legitimate fear of widespread illness and death in a national state of disaster, and the collateral general disruption, communication breakdowns, relaxation of checks and balances in systems of governance, and the cowing of civil society, created a perfect storm for the ruling ANC to line its own pockets through PPE tenders.

It was an opportunity presented on a silver platter for comrades, their relatives and friends, to loot the state while spitting in the faces of those outside their patronage network.

As a result, trust in Ramaphosa has waned dramatically, as a report by national research company Ask Africa shows.

That must come at the ballot box, when voters can tell Ramaphosa directly: We do not trust you, Mr President

Perhaps in an attempt to stop the decline in support for himself and the ANC, Ramaphosa wrote to party members about their responsibility for the rot. He said nothing new, simply repeated most of the platitudes we have heard so many times before.

We agree that corruption cuts a wider swathe through our society than merely implicating the ANC.

Ramaphosa is also correct when he points out the apartheid underpinnings of corruption.

But what more should we have expected from Ramaphosa?

He is as conflicted as any other member of the ruling party who has aided and abetted corruption, either consciously or by silence, and whether they have benefited directly or not from the looting.

Worse, by buying the votes of comrades during his CR17 campaign to ensure that he ascended to the presidency of the ANC and, consequently, to the country's presidency, he effected the worst kind of anti-democracy.

It is clear that corruption will not be stopped by the ANC when it patently implicates every echelon of the party right to the top.

Ramaphosa argued this week for a ‘whole of society’ response to corruption. We agree on this too. However, that must come at the ballot box, when voters can tell Ramaphosa directly: “We do not trust you, Mr President.”


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