Both party leaders, John Steenhuisen of the DA and Julius Malema of the EFF, have asserted that the initial promise of a great presidency under Cyril Ramaphosa has all gone up in smoke, with more promises every year but little delivery.
The two were responding on Tuesday to Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address (Sona) last week, delivered under the shadow of Covid-19 and economic stagnation.
“What many people once thought was the best chance an ANC president would ever have of turning things around has turned out to be almost no chance at all. Having sat through three previous Sonas by President Ramaphosa, and then watched as every grand plan and aspirational promise evaporated as the year wore on, even the most loyal commentators were looking to the 2021 Sona with a sense of resigned realism. That once-lustrous cloak of the new dawn three years ago has turned out to be a cheap imitation. Today it is frayed and faded, and no longer really worth taking out the closet,” said Steenhuisen.
He added that there was a “growing realisation” that neither the ANC nor Ramaphosa could tackle any of the big issues that South Africans faced; that the promise that one day there would be a turnaround at Eskom, qualified people would be appointed to positions, or corruption would be tackled and ended would never be fulfilled.
“These have all been promised at multiple Sonas in recent years, with very little evidence of progress. But the president wants you to know that they are still top of his mind and on his to-do list,’ said Steenhuisen.
The official opposition leader also slammed Ramaphosa for lacking the courage to condemn former president Jacob Zuma when he defied a summons by the Zondo commission to go and testify.
Zuma has said that he would rather be arrested than testify, even after the Constitutional Court ordered him to.
“Your response, when Jacob Zuma publicly vowed to defy a Constitutional Court order to appear before the Zondo commission, was that we should all give him some time and space to think things over. And your silence yesterday, when he stuck to his word and snubbed the commission, spoke volumes. None of that sounds like someone who has decided to put country before party.”
Malema said that when Ramaphosa ascended to power in 2018, EFF members and leaders had hoped that he would bring a degree of stability, but he had let them down badly.
“It has now been three years since you took office, and we can all say that you have not achieved anything worth mentioning.”
Malema accused Ramaphosa of only being competent at protecting the interest of the white capitalist establishment.
He added that, having displaced the Gupta family that had held sway under Zuma, there was now a favoured group under the current president.
“It is now evident that the Guptas have been replaced by a very powerful white capitalist capture of the Ruperts, Oppenheimers, Steven Kosheff and the Menells, and all other white people who played a central role in buying the ANC conference in 2017.”
Malema said the EFF would isolate and ultimately defeat “all puppets of white capitalism”.
Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told Malema to butt out of factional ANC politics. She added that Malema, once an ANC member, had never approved of any ANC president between Thabo Mbeki, Zuma and Ramaphosa.
“Let the ANC sort out its own politics. We don’t need former members to assist us. You said you would never support Zuma but now you are supporting him. But the rule of law will apply in this country, even to you honourable Malema. So don’t try to scare us,” she said.