SONA, Zuma exit: Will Cyril Ramaphosa be a damp squib?

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

JACOB Zuma remains barricaded in the presidency as I write this piece; chances are that he will still be hiding steadfastly behind the invisible walls that surround him by the time you read it.

As usual, he pretends not to hear the clamour outside the walls and windows, but we all know that he does. He chooses to keep us waiting because he knows he can. He has kept us waiting for the past ten years because his party has allowed, even enabled, him to do so, ostensibly to protect its own interests ahead of those of South Africa.

But not only that, Zuma has also made sure to cause our developmental trajectory to slide back by enabling, as claimed in many reports, billions of rand in public funds needed to finance crucial government projects to be diverted into the private bank accounts of people and entities said to be linked to him; all of whom would have served as his proxies.

So, while he remains behind his self-made barricades, his party is said to be trying really hard to find the most polite ways possible to remove him without humiliating him, the poor man.

Giggled, taunted SA when called to account

It doesn’t seem to matter to the new people in charge of the ANC that Zuma has humiliated South Africans repeatedly throughout his presidency. He has ignored our cries and giggled and made outright fun of us when called to account in Parliament, feigning innocence each time.

With him at the helm, we have seen South Africa slide from number one as the leading and most desirable economy in Africa to second position, overtaken by Nigeria, before being relegated to third position after Egypt climbed over our heads by performing better.

We used to have ample reasons to boast about being the gateway to Africa for foreign investors, and that some EU countries feared the rising South African star as a possible threat to their long-held positions as dominant economic and political influencers for many African states. Fewer people take us seriously today than in the earlier years of our democracy, all thanks to Zuma.

Many people in the rest of Africa are either laughing at us or crying with us.

Will Cyril restore the ANC's long-lost glory?

The arrival of Cyril Ramaphosa came as a breath of fresh air for long-suffering South Africans and South Africa watchers around the world. Here at home, people saw him as someone who would finally turn the tide against state capture and restore the dignity of our country as a leader on the continent and beyond.

They knew, of course, that the ANC came with him as a package - that it was the party which had spent a good part of the past decade defending the indefensible and which has, over time, lost its soul and become home to sheer political arrogance and impunity.

Many still hope that he will be the man to restore the long-lost glory of his party following years of selfish abuse by post-Mandela leaders. But, deep inside, South Africans also fear things would not be immediately easy for Ramaphosa, particularly as his presidency of the ANC came as a poisoned chalice to which hugely questionable characters who are implicated in state capture remain attached.

Action please after beautiful Davos speeches

Many South Africans have been prepared to allow Ramaphosa time they’re fast running out of to make the kind of changes needed to assure them that state capture and large-scale corruption would soon be things of the past.

They expect the beautiful speeches he has been making at home and abroad, notably at the recent World Economic Forum, to quickly be followed by action.

Ramaphosa has his work cut out for him, but he cannot accomplish anything without first unblocking the system by removing Zuma from power and taking over the presidency or appointing a trusted, respected interim president and implementing a total Cabinet reshuffle.

Zuma has to go, he cannot be the one to deliver the 2018 State of the Nation Address (SONA) and show us the way out of the mess he has created for us. With him must also be removed all the people who have been implicated as enablers for the Guptas and Duduzane Zuma, the son Zuma chose to look after his huge, allegedly ill-gotten wealth in South Africa and elsewhere.

SONA is not just for ANC members

SONA is not just for ANC members; it is for all of us. It is also for the world of investors and others in the human diaspora across the globe who are also holding their breath, waiting for South Africa to show them that all is not lost, and that it can rise again.

Until the next elections when South Africa will choose its next government, Ramaphosa only has this guaranteed chance to rise to the occasion and show he can lead. This chance is not guaranteed in 2019 if South Africans remain frustrated by his seeming timidity to rid them of Zuma and all the ill-suited men and women he has planted throughout our democratic institutions over the years.

Will he truly rise to the occasion?

  • Solly Moeng is brand reputation management adviser and CEO of strategic corporate communications consultancy DonValley Reputation Managers. Views expressed are his own.

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