From Ramaphoria to Ramafailure
President Cyril Ramaphosa's election as state president in early 2018 brought psychological relief to a country battered by almost 10 years of Jacob Zuma's state capture abuse.
Zuma took us to the brink, and Ramaphosa promised to pull us back. No wonder Ramaphosa experienced unprecedented support from South Africans across the voting lines. Until recently, he remained much more popular among South Africans than the ANC. He is still the most popular politician in the country.
South Africa was ready for a strong, "good guy" who would fix all our ills.
Of course, this was never a realistic (or fair) expectation, and Covid-19 meant Ramaphosa's legacy would broadly be defined by how he managed a health crisis.
The Phala Phala scandal has forced a premature assessment of Ramaphosa's term in office, with his security of tenure still very much in the balance. At the time of writing, it seemed likely that Ramaphosa would survive a vote for his impeachment proceedings to be instituted in Parliament. But this vote by the ANC to rally around their president as they did with Zuma and the Nkandla scandal has nothing to do with principle, and everything to do with political survival.
A fair assessment of Ramaphosa's presidency, minus Phala Phala, would probably give him a pass. His handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, fair criticism of some lockdown regulations aside, was exemplary. Compared to how other nations struggled to impose mask-wearing measures, Ramaphosa and South Africans were a shining light in the fight to return to a normal way of living.
His appointments at Eskom, the National Prosecuting Authority and SARS helped those institutions turn the corner on corruption and state capture. His support of the Zondo Commission, despite his poor performance in defending the ANC, was critical in exposing a decade of plunder.
But, as the author and investigative Jacques Pauw argues in his brilliant essay to lead Friday Briefing today, the Phala Phala scandal threatens to overshadow all the good of Ramaphosa's tenure and highlights his continued weaknesses, inherited from Zuma. Top of that is his failure to fix the police and bring down the country's obscene crime rate.
"I am not sure that Ramaphosa still has the moral authority to demand our support. He has messed up, and he has messed up spectacularly," Pauw, author of The President's Keepers and the recently published sequel Our Poisoned Land writes in this must-read piece.
It is a sentiment that African Transformation Movement leader Vuyo Zungula shares. He writes that Ramaphosa's decision to seek a review of the section 89 report is a clear attempt to intimidate and deter other institutions that may find against him.
DA leader John Steenhuisen writes that the Section 89 report into Phala Phala did not definitively find Ramaphosa guilty, but recommended establishing an impeachment inquiry. Steenhuisen, therefore, argues that the committee shouldn't be blocked, but allowed the space to conclusively establish what happened at Phala Phala.
Meanwhile, ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba writes that South Africans shouldn't be swayed by the ANC's internal factionalism, but look towards a future post-ANC-rule. Because, Mashaba writes, "South Africa and the ANC cannot co-exist in mutual prosperity".
Finally former Gauteng premier and News24 columnist Mbhazima Shilowa weighs in, arguing that whatever the outcome is in the ANC's elective conference this month, or whatever the Constitutional Court decides with regards to his application for a review of the section 89 panel, Ramaphosa is a dead man walking.
Enjoy the readings.
Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC have failed the nation. His administration should be judged on the goals he established upon taking office in February, writes investigative journalist and author Jacques Pauw.
What Cyril Ramaphosa ought to have done last week was resign and wait for the impeachment trial to mount a defence. Instead, he clings onto power and instructs ANC MPs to toe the party line and vote against the Section 89 report, even after the Constitutional Court confirmed that members ought to vote their conscience, writes ATM president Vuyo Zungula.
For once, let Parliament do its job and get to the bottom of this story so that South Africa can move on, with or without President Ramaphosa, writes DA leader John Steenhuisen.
South Africans must come to learn that our redemption lies outside of the ANC and not within it. We can no longer be hostages of the ANC, forced to conceive of life in terms of ANC leaders, conferences, investigations and succession, writes ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba.
Whatever the outcome of the ANC conference, or Cyril Ramaphosa's review application at the Constitutional Court, the writing is on the wall. He is a dead man walking, argues Mbhazima Shilowa.