Ramaphosa acting boldly now will be good for the country as well as the ANC's performance in the 2024 elections, even though it might come with some cost to him within his party, writes Calvin Matlou.
Elections have come and gone, and South Africa has given Cyril Ramaphosa a new mandate to fulfil all the promises he made on his campaign trail.
This election served as a last chance saloon for the African National Congress (ANC) and one of the reasons the party received a healthy mandate is due to the Ramaphosa factor. Following the 2016 municipal elections, where the ANC lost key metros in Gauteng, mainly due to the party's supporters staying away and not voting, it was predicted that the trend will continue and the ANC stood to suffer greatly in this year's elections. 57% is not the disaster that many predicted two years ago and that is mainly due to Cyril Ramaphosa.
The question now is which Ramaphosa will emerge. Is it Cyril the South African president or Cyril the ANC deployee? Those questions will be answered in the next five years, however his actions in the first few months in office will provide some clarity on what we are in for. The first is his Cabinet appointments.
Will he be bold and appoint people who are not tainted by corruption or will he manage ANC politics and bring back the likes of Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane? Surely there are capable cadres that can be given a chance, instead of recycling the same individuals who have not really done anything significant in their portfolios to warrant continued faith in them.
With the current financial difficulties we are facing, we expect President Ramaphosa to cut some ministries, which have not added any value towards achieving government mandates. The department of women should be the first to face the axe, as its objective can be easily fulfilled by a unit within the social development ministry. There should also be consolidation of trade and industry related ministries
Cleaning up of state institutions, particularly SOEs remains paramount and the allegations emerging from the various inquiries have to be followed up on. International institutions and ratings agencies have so far given him the benefit of a doubt. Policy certainty will be a key factor to his attainment of his $100bn investment target in five years.
A bold Ramaphosa will be good for the country as well as the ANC's performance in the 2024 elections, even though it might come with some cost to him within his party. The so called "radical economic transformation" faction within the ANC will not sit back and accept being side-lined. They will mount a fight back that could become dirty. The fact that he did not win the ANC presidency with a convincing majority at Nasrec, will forever act as albatross around his neck and will constrain him from fully exercising his power without being checked by the other side.
It has been argued that former president Jacob Zuma survived almost two terms as state president due to his careful managing of ANC politics. We all remember his statement that the ANC comes before government in his eyes. For Cyril Ramaphosa to finish his term, he will need to carefully manage ANC politics. As much as he is loved by most South Africans, it is the few in the ANC who have his future in their hands. Let's not forget how former president Thabo Mbeki got the axe, despite being widely supported by South Africans.
- Matlou is an engagement manager at Frontline Africa.
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