By: Clyde Ramalaine
– A toxic combination of Gordhanism and a truculence to implement adopted resolutions makes up the People’s case-
Neville Alexander told us ”…societies and the global village have changed so radically that to continue to analyse and describe things as though we were still in 1848 or 1948 or even 1984 are to be woefully blind and self-defeating.” I thought of this as I began to gather my thoughts to make the case that we have entered a post- Zuma versus Ramaphosa faction(s) space. I herewith advance we are in post-state capture and media-invented dominant narratives of natural angels and demons era.
Beyond illusions of grandeur, platitudes and grand scale deception immanent in promises a substantial case of the People [who cannot be labelled a faction] against Ramaphosa is emerging! We have entered a stage in our politics of the post-Zuma and Ramaphosa shades of factions. Factionalism, the African National Congress’ since Polokwane which defined ANC politics in Mbeki and Zuma personalities as choices for what should define the future focus of the ANC became its new normal.
We in this epoch entered ‘The People against Ramaphosa’ era. As the ANC NEC gathers in Irene Gauteng North, perhaps for the first time its agenda was not prepared by the ANC but by the people and their rightful demands to answers where leadership vacuum is real on many fronts. We are long past the glamour of casual walks, selfies, broad smiles and easy promises. We are aeons away from a failed Thuma Mina campaign that was stillborn. The very campaign Daily Maverick’s editor Ferial Haffajee wanted us all to know is an exclusive Ramaphosa campaign of which the ANC is morally unfit to association with.
‘Man shall not live by bread alone…’ is the dictum of the Christian Holy Writ. In this sense the people are saying we can no longer live of the menu of polluted air, fed the overcooked stale stew of state capture narratives, broad smiles of deception intermittently draped with vegan salads of ‘shock’ and ‘surprise’ servings.
South Africa in democracy’s fourth ballot-elected president Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa, effectively in charge of the governing ANC since December 2017, and head of State since February 2018, is singularly ineffective in addressing the biggest structural deficiencies inhibiting and restraining economic growth and good governance. His leadership across all spheres of government evidence no respite for a struggling SA citizenry. His personal failure to meaningfully inspire hope for change followed through by concrete measurable instruments for assessment where it matters most, the economic front is tangibly bemoaned. Ramaphosa the media-invented answer as sold to SA, the long awaited messianic hope for a faltering and structurally questionable economy. He appears to have exhausted all patience and goodwill credit that saw him in early morning swanky walks along beach strips dovetailed with selfies.
The dust has duly settled and Ramaphosa’s leadership failures are glaring, even the proverbial blind are beginning to see. Increasingly some of his supporters are beginning to question his true capacity to lead SA. It is here that I wish to advance that Ramaphosa’s characteristic inability to lead in honesty has pit him against the will of the people who deserve a transparent leadership measurable in functional governance in simplicity of keeping the lights on.
This weekend marks a watershed moment where the case of the people against a president who has failed to keep the lights on is registered. Ramaphosa the one who is too often found shocked and choking in legitimacy crisis. Did he not know keeping the lights on, makes and destroys presidents? The ideological battle line is defined by a dysfunctional Eskom. The people’s case is he left us in darkness on many fronts. We were patient to tolerate that but being literally left in darkness by a dysfunctional Eskom and lied to about it is more than what can be entertained.
In order to appreciate the quagmire Ramaphosa finds himself in two cardinal aspects may detail the premise for the people’s case. Naturally, one of such is the identified yet necessarily analysis of a critical role player immanent in his Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan. The one Ramaphosa appears to have sworn an allegiance to at all costs even his presidency. The second aspect that defines a case of the People against Ramaphosa is his leadership in willful rejection of ANC resolutions that defined his elevation to high office. He stands accused of actively diluting the 54th Conference resolutions in particular as articulated in Radical Economic Transformation (RET), the Land Question (Expropriation without compensation) and a wider reform mandate for the South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB). Ramaphosa stands labelled as fooling around these resolutions with a sense of callousness that details contradictory statements in what is considered his overreliance on a constituency outside the ANC that he long decided is more important than the people
Increasingly the notion of Gordhan being questioned is becoming the new normal. Despite the noise of a now recognised self-serving proverbial 101 Dalmatians of bitter puppies who in ‘veteran’ status parade outside any official ANC structure. This group of past leaders that arrogate a right to be superior to all published a defense in favour of Gordhan. However their defense is yet in defiance of the people’s quest for answers, since the defenders of Gordhanism are dwindling daily.
In conversation with a colleague I was asked why there is a growing sense of questioning of Gordhan. You would recall that Gordhan in personality for the better part of four years in ANC and SA politics spaces appeared untouchable, scripted as a messiah, often an endangered species, a victim of evil, the meridian of a claimed morality and the literal embodiment of a South African constitution. The claims advanced were SA is under attack its constitution is under threat and it must be defended. A defence of Gordhan erroneously translated to a defence of the SA constitution evidence by a lusty clergy group led by Anglican Bishop Thabo Maklouba, the latter in deception of factional bias offered singular prayers for Gordhan when he, as instructed by his Holy Writ never prayed for a sitting president or other cabinet members that served along Gordhan.
You will recall in my December 2019 article entitled “Gordhanism: An emerging phenomenon served by eNCA claims more victims” I attempt understanding our politics from as usual the upstream side when I dared to frame, explain and defined a construct and phenomenon of Gordhanism. I identified the phenomenon as feeding of and into the media-invented dominant narrative that South African political elites constitute of natural demons and angels. The doctrine of demon-and-angel frames to describe South African politicians identified Gordhan an angel and victim as vilified by a sitting president – a villain who embodied evil and came personified in Jacob G. Zuma. Therefore, the created angelic status of Gordhan needed an economy of villianhood framed in a scripted enemy of Zuma. The South African society was fed this gripping and salacious but untested narrative until it in Goebellian description became the duped subconscious of a belligerent society with Zuma its focus. In typical public relations campaign the messaging would depict a politician who is portrayed as innately good, upright, the last bastion of SA constitutional defence. A further characteristic of Gordhanism is its wilful labelling of anyone who dares to question him as part of a ” fight back strategy.” Time after time Gordhan would fall back on this without any self- introspection.
The challenge was the upkeep of this fallacy of a doctrine as wholly indebted to a sojourning narrative of an evil president only make sense for as long as the villain president remains in power.
It would therefore; mean by the exit of the crafted villain the phenomenon in essence began its decline. This explains why it was so imperative for Gordhanism to invest so much energy in the multi-pronged strategy of a media-created crime of state capture. It needed to prove the evil of the villain and spare no resource to ensure its portrayal is eternalized in the conscience of a duped South African society. The State of Capture Commission that sat for the first time on August 20, 2018 would be used to keep the image of the villain alive. South Africans needed to exclusively focus on Zuma the villain and architect of state capture, a Gupta family regardless to the fact that the Commission hitherto protests remaining for all intents and purposes a Latent-Labour-Dispute Commission where aggrieved [ministers with no constitutional legal recourse] and senior staff [who lost their jobs] would take their refuge in. This was done all in the name of a common enemy ‘state capture’. Let me repeat what I have said before the SoCC [Zondo Commission] set for its first day, Deputy Chief Justice Zondo will find enough corruption as we all know it’s real since the dawn of democracy of a Mandela era, however he will struggle to find or prove any state capture, because state capture is a 2009 DA political campaign of 3 C’s [cadre deployment, corruption and capture]. It needed a chapter nine institution to give its campaign meaning and Advocate Thuli Madonsela was too keen to play that role with her State of Capture Report.
As with all phenomena in politics they are seldom left unattended forever. Meaning as it emerges the forces that produce it always realign and the phenomenon is left exposed. That means they have a lifespan some may be very brief others may live a tad longer provided the conditions for its ongoing existence remains conducive. Gordhanism, therefore, is an interdependent phenomenon made by circumstances and its existence remains contingent on those conditions. Having understood this about phenomena we still must note the phenomenon’s death starts upon the departure of the villain who is the fuel for the phenomenon.
I wish to postulate, at some stage, in the lifespan of such phenomenon what I will term “collective goodwill sense” – demands honesty. When I talk of “collective goodwill sense’’ I am referring to an honest assessment in reflection of an overarching good beyond the shades of politics or drama that demands basic answers. That goodwill sense, therefore, prevails and the deflections of the phenomenon as in the case of Gordhanism become monotonous, unsustainable and unpalatable. When we talk of “collective goodwill” we speak of the subliminal trust of the people who despite being classically conditioned, duped or misled by deflections of angels and demons to define the political elite, arise to let sense prevail. Societies, I hold, have an innate compass that defines a need to self-correct it’s a trademark of societal sobriety that manifests in asking the most basic yet uncomfortable questions when it is needed most. Often these questions work in opposition to the sustenance of the phenomenon demanding that it take leave to be a law unto itself, thus accounting. Questions beyond politics, such as, why are we having loadshedding, why are the lights not on?
Unfortunately the “collective goodwill sense’’ of a society is gracious enough to permit it appear to be deceived. It is patient enough to pretend it could be misled even played with. It may protest momentarily pliant to political ends, though only for a while, just never for always. I think of the collective goodwill as not owned by an individual it is neither owned by any group or faction but it’s the choice for truth in a searching sense in moments when leadership dissipates.
We are in an era beyond the meticulously crafted state capture narrative, the media-invented fallacy of angels and demons that make up the political elite and the rhetoric of messiahs to fix a struggling economy. It is because the people in “collective goodwill sense” are asking the simple question: Why the lights are not on?
In response to the South African society’s quest for truth on a stable electricity supply they have been fed sophisms of wet-coal, unsubstantiated political rhetoric of sabotage, claims of fiddling with parts, conveyor belts packing up, and thoughtless promises of no loadshedding. Last week the South African society was half-answered by its deputy president DD Mabuza with his now famed categorical assertion: “they [Eskom and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan] misled the president…”
The collectively goodwill asks why Ramaphosa distinguished himself in being misled which results in him telling lies? It involuntarily remember how in the heat of the CR17 campaign Ramaphosa dispatched his campaign manager Benji Chauke on a Friday night to meet with INL editor Steve Motale to cut a deal on the information Motale had requested and was going to publish. Ramaphosa asked for extensions until on the Saturday he took refuge in the courts. Judge Villay had none of the and Ramahosa lost in failing to explain why he had not answered the questions timeously sent to him on a slew of alleged affairs with young ladies. Ramaphosa opted to use the Sunday Times to make a confession of one infidelity. The SA society was introduced to a politician who draws broad strokes over truth.
Shall the public forget how Ramaphosa buoyed by a constituency outside his party dared to make statements in parliament on his son Andile’s business deals with the corrupt Bosasa billionaire tender winning company that has captured many? Ramaphosa with egg on his face had to issue a second statement since the first framed him a liar actively involved in deceiving the South African people.
The collective goodwill of a society has been tested since Ramaphosa’s Marikana problem is still not dealt with. Until now he is yet to visit the crime scene where 44 lives were lost in the darkest moment of democracy for a state. The SA population still awaits the president to man up and show up and quit looking for opposition politicians to accompany him in a PR exercise.
The South African society lived through a time when its president did his level best to protect the contributors to his R1bn CR17 campaign. Ramaphosa did not trust South African citizenry SA to know who may have captured him by giving him millions as CJ Mogoeng lamented in the 2019 Nelson Mandela lecture. We saw a president fighting the Pubmif Protector, guns blazing, to ensure his funders remain unknown.
Can we remember how this president defined his entire leadership in summits [job and economic investments], commissions and envoys [jobs for pals and family] where investment drives were made the core focus? Until now nothing materially has really happened as we head to the third investment summit. All this while job shedding remains pronounced at Eskom [anticipated 20000]. Telkom [confirmed 3000] and SAA [unknown] among others.
Did we forget how on March 9, 2018 former Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe hastily signed the IPP’s [ independent power producers ] with 27 companies that in essence cost Eskom daily R93million? Not to mention the daily R46million paid to contractors to ensure no loadshedding and maintenance. Shall we add the vast majority of beneficiaries remain the apartheid white identity holders?
Shall we forget how the president approved an Eskom board as appointed by his most trusted lieutenant Pravin Gordhan? An Eskom board that in the end was accused by Deputy President Mabuza as having misled the President and now has resigned. The Chairperson Jabu Mabuza who at one stage in 2019 was Chairman of the board, CEO of Eskom and a service provider through a meshed network of companies in what some dubbed an unholy trinity.
Can we remember how shocked Ramaphosa is at every turn. Can the people forget how he in December left on a Ethiopian State visit knowing Eskom announced stage-6 loadshedding level and how in typical scripted superhero status of Batman fashion he returned to ‘fix’ the problem with a singular political statement in untested claims of sabotage. Again the masses wanted to know how a political statement could stop loadshedding stage six – the masses want to know who was deceiving them and why?
The people’s case against Ramaphosa is, we simply can’t trust this politician to implement resolutions that made him as ANC president. We can’t trust him because he is not trusted by his party. How then can the people trust its president when he time after time has betrayed that trust?
When we argue the case of the people against Ramaphosa it’s to admit his leadership is publicly struggling in legitimacy crisis. One who aided his own misleading by Eskom and his trusted lieutenant Gordhan? Yet one who also is easily misled by a constituency outside the ANC to ignore ANC resolutions.
Analysing our politics in easy Zuma and Ramaphosa factions in this season is to miss how far the pendulum has swung. The real case is the people is red-carding Ramaphosa leadership.