WHILE Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa tried to as­sert his au­thor­ity at the Jan­uary 8 State­ment cel­e­bra­tions in KZN last week; it was clear there are still enor­mous chal­lenges to be con­fronted de­spite the mantra of unity.

While he may have done a good job in KZN, there were mo­ments when Ramaphosa looked de­cid­edly weak on Ja­cob Zuma’s turf in KZN.

His con­stant at­tempts to pla­cate Zuma and his sup­port­ers in the rul­ing party make it seem that he lacks the power to lead from the front and ef­fect a gen­uine clean-up.

If Ramaphosa spoke and acted de­ci­sively against the loot­ers he would win mil­lions of de­cent peo­ple to his side. But, for some rea­son, he is un­will­ing or un­able to take the high road. If the ex­pla­na­tion does not lie in a weak char­ac­ter (and I don’t think it does) it seems log­i­cal that Ramaphosa’s po­lit­i­cal paral­y­sis is a re­sult of the bal­ance of forces within the ANC.

It is clear the fac­tion of the ANC that sup­ports the plun­der of the state to en­rich a new elite has not ac­cepted de­feat. It is pur­su­ing a multi-pronged strat­egy to un­der­mine Ramaphosa with, no doubt, the even­tual aim of re­cap­tur­ing the state.

The polling in­di­cates that after the wide­spread dis­gust for the rul­ing party dur­ing the Zuma years; Ramaphosa is a more pop­u­lar fig­ure than Zuma was in the last years of his dis­as­trous rule. If Ramaphosa does well in the polls, the fac­tion of the ANC that openly cel­e­brates cor­rup­tion will be se­verely weak­ened. Many have ar­gued that this is our best hope for a stable fu­ture.

It would, in­deed, be cat­a­strophic if Ramaphosa fared badly in the elec­tion with the re­sult that the ANC had to turn to the EFF to gov­ern. The EFF is now an openly pro-cor­rup­tion and au­thor­i­tar­ian force, and an al­liance with them would pull the ANC so deep into the po­lit­i­cal sew­ers that the party would never be able to “self-cor­rect”.

As nu­mer­ous com­men­ta­tors have ob­served, the EFF has won a mas­sive share of me­dia cov­er­age with a tiny per­cent­age of the vote. This has fun­da­men­tally dis­torted our pub­lic sphere, cre­at­ing the mis­taken im­pres­sion that dem­a­goguery and gross chau­vin­ism are mas­sively pop­u­lar. This nor­malises toxic pol­i­tics with the re­sult that it can, in the end, be­come gen­uinely pop­u­lar.

The sit­u­a­tion is set to worsen with the rise of a clutch of lit­tle par­ties, all led by char­la­tans of the high­est or­der that are aligned to the pro-cor­rup­tion pol­i­tics around Zuma. None of these par­ties have any prospect of sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess at the polls. But they all have a ca­pac­ity to make a huge con­tri­bu­tion to the de­gen­er­a­tion of our pub­lic sphere.

Un­crit­i­cal re­port­ing on the ut­ter­ances of peo­ple like Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng, Jimmy Manyi, Andile Mngxi­tama and oth­ers, all dis­cred­ited sup­port­ers of Zuma, may win the me­dia short-term gain in terms of clicks. After all con­tro­versy does at­tract at­ten­tion.

Zuma and his acolytes like Mot­soe­neng, Manyi, Mngxi­tama, and oth­ers claim that the plun­der of the state by a po­lit­i­cally con­nected elite is a rad­i­cal pol­i­tics in the in­ter­ests of the peo­ple as a whole.

That is balder­dash of the high­est or­der. Ev­ery mil­lion looted from the state to make a few fam­i­lies rich is a mil­lion robbed from or­di­nary peo­ple, in­clud­ing the black work­ing class and the poor.

Zuma and his acolytes are, with­out a doubt, the en­emy of the black ma­jor­ity.

The DA has reached its elec­toral limit. It gath­ered up most of the mi­nor­ity votes but has failed, spec­tac­u­larly, to be­came a party of the ma­jor­ity, and Ramaphosa of­fers noth­ing other than a prom­ise of clean gov­ern­ment.

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