Beware of false hope

Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. (File, AFP)
Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. (File, AFP)

South Africans have not been a cheerful lot in the past nine years of the Jacob Zuma administration, so the exuberance to embrace President Cyril Ramaphosa’s supposed new dawn is very understandable in the circumstances.

The bar was set so low during the Zuma years that anyone could have walked into the presidency with their eyes closed and we would still have been swept away by the whirlwind.

Isn’t the blind adulation we are so willingly showering on Ramaphosa similar to the adulation ANC members of Parliament and the executive wittingly showered on Zuma?

Lest we forget, Cyril and the current Cabinet were around as Zuma engineered one of the most audacious state capture projects of the 21st century.

We have been here before!

Lo and behold, South Africans seem to be willing to embrace the “thuma mina” mantra, where each is willing to go the extra mile, as Ramaphosa implored during his state of the nation address. South Africans of all creeds and hues seem to be willing to give the ANC a second chance after the nightmare of the Zuma years.

However, in our unencumbered enthusiasm to create a feel-good story, it will be prudent of us not to forget that the torch bearers of a so-called new dawn are the same villains and architects of the imbroglio our country finds itself in.

To all intents and purposes, Ramaphosa joined the Zuma ticket at the ANC elective conference in Mangaung in 2012 well aware that Zuma was facing 783 charges of corruption and racketeering – against which he has been appealing. He has served in Zuma’s administration as deputy president since May 2014.

While Ramaphosa is having the country eating out of the palm of his hand, we need not be hoodwinked to the folly of his previous ways. He should not easily be absolved of culpability in the trajectory the country has taken.

The euphoria sweeping the country has somehow absolved the ANC of culpability. Now that Zuma is gone, we are being implored that a new dawn is imminent.

No doubt, our recent past has been harrowing, unless you were a beneficiary of the state capture project and really had it good on ill-gotten gains. And we can do with some good news at the moment. However, in our enthusiasm, we seem to have forgotten that the ANC was responsible for the quagmire in which we find ourselves.

The ANC should not be given a free pass and be forgiven for having given us Zuma and defending him to the hilt these past nine years. Who knows to what lengths they will be willing to go for Ramaphosa?

We need to guard against behaving like love-struck puppies. We have been here before.

What is nauseating is that while we are singing Ramaphosa’s praises, the people who helped Zuma stage state capture are still sitting in Cabinet, enjoying their spoils of victory: the likes of Des van Rooyen, Mosebenzi Zwane, Faith Muthambi, Bathabile Dlamini and Lynne Brown. Nothing could betray the spirit of the much-vouchsafed new dawn than seeing these miscreants sitting in the National Assembly, in effect giving us the middle finger.

Zuma was fêted at a farewell gala dinner in Tuynhuys this past week. What new dawn is that?

Listening to Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, delivering his budget, talking about how to solve the liquidity challenges at state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is like listening to an alcoholic extolling the imperatives of sobriety. Having been central to the destruction of SOEs, Gigaba is the last person to extol the virtues of treating the national purse with respect.

The current budget deficit actually equals the sum that was pilfered by government minions for the benefit of the Guptas, in exchange for flight tickets and accommodation in Dubai and India. It is mind-boggling!

Whether Ramaphosa likes it or not, the ANC will go down in history as the political party under whose watch a treasonous project of state capture was executed. If Zuma was the mastermind of the primitive accumulation that was the hallmark of the state capture project, he was wantonly and wittingly abetted by the ANC to auction the state’s sovereignty to an immigrant family from India. They too should be held culpable. No new dawn can erase that. It is recorded for posterity.

The ANC cannot be held accountable in parts, but as a whole. When history books are written, it will be recorded that it was under an ANC, not a DA or Economic Freedom Fighters-led government, that pilfering on an industrial scale took place.

And now the poor are left to pick up the pieces!

Ngobeni is a book publisher and the 2007 South African finalist in the British Council’s International Young Publisher of the Year awards programme


How much responsibility should President Cyril Ramaphosa shoulder for the way Jacob Zuma ran the country?

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