ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa’s January 8 speech gave us an insight into how complex his role has become as both ANC president and president of South Africa.
The two roles could not be further apart at this point in the ANC’s 110th year and the Republic’s 28th year.
Listening to Ramaphosa deliver his speech, it was as if one heard a member of the public appealing to his government to do the right thing, forgetting for a moment that the president was speaking to himself.
He is the government he is appealing to. In listing the ANC priorities for 2022, he called for the building of “a social compact to decisively address unemployment and poverty”.
He stated that in “working with all social partners, we must accelerate economic recovery and reconstruction and ensure that social services are provided to all citizens”; and “defend our democratic gains against attempts to undermine our Constitutional order and destabilise our democracy”.
As ANC president, given the dire implications of the Zondo Commission Report into State Capture, the president faces the very real challenge that key ANC leaders from both sides of the aisle will face possible charges in court over the next year.
This places the party’s December 2022 Elective Conference under a massive spotlight. Will the president face an angry conference, or will he be lauded for his stance?
Ramaphosa, the ANC president, is tasked with defending the integrity of the ANC and its cadres wherever they are deployed. Ramaphosa, the South African president, is charged with implementing the findings of the commission into state capture.
Ramaphosa’s bid to serve a second term as ANC president faces a huge risk right now. Increasingly we are going to see a president torn into two. He will have to be 10 times the man he is to survive this.
The ANC president’s primary recommendation to his NEC should be to disband the deployment committee immediately. Its work is over.
It has no credible standing anymore. It has been the literal root of all evil and the gall in the South African body politic.
If a social compact is going to be formed with South African society, the ANC must assure the public that there is no back room anymore where unqualified “broederbond” patterned cadres are rolled out into the South African business and public service.
State capture was possible because of the intellectual and moral/ethical weaknesses of deployed cadres.
One of the biggest renewal challenges for the ANC is to distance itself as a movement from the ostentatious wealth displayed by many of its cadres – from ministers to parastatal functionaries and all the way down to ordinary public servants.
In addition, the ANC president must close the monetisation opportunities that come from holding public office. This may be harder to do, as the president himself was a beneficiary, in his earlier political life, of accessing financial resources based on his proximity to power.
Yes, Mr President, expensive cars, watches and fancy foods so readily displayed on social media by a movement claiming to represent “the people” can no longer be tolerated.
As ANC president, it will be hard for Ramaphosa to close the money flow. However, as South Africa’s president, he will have the full backing of the nation.
The biggest risk he faces is that he no longer has a clear path to a second term as ANC president. With so many hungry mouths to feed within the movement, Ramaphosa is no longer assured of continuing as ANC president and thus as the country's beyond December 2022.
With prosecutions and imprisonments potentially dominating the agenda of the elective conference, Ramaphosa, the ANC president, will have to face up to Ramaphosa, the South African president and a hostile conference.
Better to leave office as an honourable country president than retain office as a hostage to corrupt interests. Which Ramaphosa will pitch up in December 2022?
* Lorenzo A Davids.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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