Editorial: Ramaphosa bullied by Zuma faction

Johannesburg – One has to feel sorry for President Cyril Ramaphosa.

He is a dithering party leader with no strong hold on his party.

Never has there been any ANC president who has faced so much disorderly political conduct yet has no power to deal with the political menace of his own comrades.

The fundamental power imbalance that is part of Ramaphosa’s ANC presidency has proved to be the common and obvious danger that will put a serious blight on his term in office; even long after he has left.

The final chapter of Ramaphosa’s presidency is yet to be written because the real battle for the soul of the ANC is still raging.

It hinges on his ability to wrest total control of the ANC from the infl­uence and legacy of Jacob Zuma.

Zuma’s cultish following, which is found in one of the ANC factions, means he still wields extraordinary in­uence that puts Ramaphosa’s control of the party machinery precariously unsteady.

Former president Jacob Zuma, his daughter Duuduzil Zuma-Sambudla and EFF leader Julius Malema.

And Ramaphosa is clearly aware of this insurrection. Ramaphosa appears to enjoy more support outside the ANC than in his own party.

This is perhaps due to his undoing the ruin left by Zuma while he was president.

The country was teetering on the brink of becoming a banana republic before Zuma was pushed out of office.

For Zuma had outsourced his key constitutional obligations to the Gupta family.

The National Prosecuting Authority had been politicised. Political crimes were going unpunished as the looting of financial resources had become an unwritten official government policy.

Nkandla tea party

Key government ministries were no longer accountable to the country’s president, but to the Guptas, from whom many cabinet ministers received instructions. Revenue collection had been handed to the friends of the former president as the South African Revenue Service lost the esteem and integrity it once commanded.

Under Zuma, people of spurious ethical and business conduct have been appointed to crucial state-owned entities to pave the way for mass lootings.

There was hardly any consequence management. South Africa was sliding close to a failed state with a weak and timid legislature that could not hold the executive to account when the lines of political accountability had been crossed.

Ramaphosa has been able to arrest that slide and he now faces an insurgence from a faction of his own party, which was a key beneficiary from years of mismanagement of this country’s political affairs.

They are playing victim. They are also using a disgraced figure such as Zuma and the party platform to push back.

But Ramaphosa is dithering.

He is unable to muster enough courage to call their bluff and draw lines in the sand.

They have indeed realised his weakness as a fearful leader and are capitalising on this obvious political handicap to endanger his faltering hold on the ANC.

At every turn, he seems to be out-boxed by his enemies, especially at the party’s national executive committee meetings that seem to have become a favoured turf by Zuma allies to weaken him.

Until such time that Ramaphosa entrenches his authority and gains control of his NEC, he is forever going to be bullied by a mob that is undoubtedly still yearning for the Zuma era.

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosae during the ANC 54th Elective Conference in Nasrec. PICTURE: BONGIWE MCHUNU

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