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It's RET vs white monopoly capital as battle lines are drawn for Ramaphosa

2019-07-02 07:39
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

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Regardless of who lets the cat out of the bag, Ramaphosa will be facing tough issues surrounding the perception of his cozy relationship with big business, if it turns out the usual suspects donated to his campaign, writes Kyle Cowan.

“We want the President to come clear [sic]. To explain and take the country into confidence as to who are the people who donated money in the CR17 campaign and what do they stand to benefit… We need the names. Not leaked documents, Mr President.” – EFF leader Julius Malema, SONA debate, June 25, 2019.

The battle lines for control of South Africa post the Jacob Zuma era have been drawn.

It is radical economic transformation (RET) versus white monopoly capital  two extremes that have divided the national discourse and ideology along a decidedly racial line.

We may not yet have descended to a state of open warfare, but skirmishes are breaking out across the board. The ultimate prize? The soul of the ANC, and inevitably, the occupancy of the highest office in the land.

If you have been keeping a close eye on developments surrounding Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's investigation of a R500 000 donation to Cyril Ramaphosa's 2017 ANC presidential campaign by embattled Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson, you would have realised by now it is about far more than just this one small donation, out of a reported 200.  

READ MORE: Did Ramaphosa bite off more than he can chew with his 5 goals? Here are the numbers staring him down

Her decision to simply ignore ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule's involvement in the Guptas' disastrous and criminal Estina dairy farm debacle as well as a recommendation to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank (both overturned by the courts) leave much to be desired.

The proponents of RET have a few things in common, dubious personal characters aside (the infamous Carl Niehaus springs immediately to mind) they have all supported Zuma as "the father of RET" and united behind a collective hatred for a group of old, ultra-rich white businessmen commonly known by the Bell Pottinger inherited term, white monopoly capital.

They have also all called for the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank, for reasons that cannot conceivably be motivated by a desire to bring about greater levels of economic stability.

Never mind the cold hard truth that Zuma, in nine years at the helm of SA Inc (and the ANC), failed to put in place appropriate measures to rectify the lasting effects of economic exclusion imparted by the brutal apartheid regime. Equally, the ANC failed in 25 years in power to put in place workable policies to effect this.

Instead, years of economic policy ineptitude and investment downgrades (as a result of looting by State Capture and Co) was adeptly turned into an ace up the sleeve of the departing Zumaites, a card played on the hustings in an attempt to convince historically disadvantaged cadres and voters that Ramaphosa's new dawn was nothing but a disguise for the return of an old white boys' club who, from their boardrooms and Stellenbosch wine farms, pull the strings of lawmakers and bureaucrats.

Political moves  

Mkhwebane has undoubtedly obtained bank statements reflecting deposits into the much talked about EFG2 account, the attorney's trust account used to house the CR17 campaign funds.

Reports that roughly R400m flowed through various accounts linked to the CR17 campaign by the Sunday Times also cannot be ignored, along with reports that the associated transactions are under scrutiny for possible money laundering.

A figure of R500m was first quoted in Anthony Butler's portrait Cyril Rampahosa: The Road to Presidential Power, in a chapter titled "The billion rand election".

Whatever the exact amount, Ramaphosa undoubtedly spent a considerable amount of money. Butler's sources, meanwhile, say his opponent, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, spent more.

It is a dizzying amount. And when the conversation turns to billions, there are only a handful of names in South Africa that could have played a significant role – the so-called "white monopoly capital" cabal leading the charge.

READ MORE - ANALYSIS: Stepping out of the nuclear shadow of the Zuma years

It is now becoming increasingly apparent that the identity of Ramaphosa's donors will soon be leaked. It is unlikely it will appear in Mkhwebane's awaited report on the R500 000 donation, as her office has admitted she has no jurisdiction to investigate political funding.

What is far more likely is  that the information will be shared on an encrypted messaging app, or dropped off in an unsigned envelope on the desk of an eager reporter.

It is also quite likely some of the names of the donors could find their way into court papers as the inevitable review of Mkhwebane's report is undertaken.

What is clear is that Ramaphosa sympathisers are likely to immediately blame Mkhwebane or the office of the Public Protector for the leak, which by all accounts is inevitably set to embarrass the president.

City Press reported a barely veiled threat by Mkhwebane on Sunday: "Mkhwebane said that, in the common course of her investigations, the office would come across information that was potentially embarrassing to some of the powerful people involved, which might not even form part of the scope of her work."

Regardless of who lets the cat out of the bag, Ramaphosa will be facing tough issues surrounding the perception of his cozy relationship with big business, if it turns out the usual suspects donated at all.

While it is likely to be successfully argued that nothing illegal took place in the management of the CR17 campaign, the perception issues that have long dogged Ramaphosa as an elite fat cat are likely to be pushed to the fore yet again.

EFF leader Julius Malema, in his 23-minute response to Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address last week, gave perhaps the clearest indication of an imminent leak.

He called on Ramaphosa to pre-empt the agenda, and disclose his donors himself, lest Ramaphosa follow the now familiar path of being labelled a "constitutional delinquent" and pushed from office by a militant EFF, with some assistance from the Magashule/Zuma troops in Parliament.

Malema's sudden about-turn to wholeheartedly supporting Mkhwebane would certainly indicate a political coup d'etat is on the cards.

Malema has always been rather adept at reading the signs and a well-placed information network has made him privy to the machinations of the ANC for years, which has sometimes given him the air of a prophet of politics.

The EFF is hosting a media briefing at its Braamfontein headquarters this morning, a traditionally headline-grabbing affair.

Is Malema about to pull a fast one on Ramaphosa, and be the harbinger of his political doom?

- Kowan is an investigative reporter at News24.

Read more on:    busisiwe mkhwebane  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  julius  |  malema  |  ace maga­shule  |  white monopoly capital
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