Gord­han ver­sus Malema

Pub­lic en­ter­prises min­is­ter left to fend for him­self as EFF shows it has some pull with ANC

The Sunday Independent - - OPINION -

THERE is a say­ing: “When ele­phants fight, it is the grass that suf­fers.”

In South Africa’s bruis­ing po­lit­i­cal land­scape, that say­ing could not be fur­ther from the truth.

We are wit­ness­ing a clash of the ti­tans be­tween po­ten­tially three po­lit­i­cal gi­ants while the coun­try is gripped in an eco­nomic cri­sis.

The EFF has ac­cused Pravin Gord­han, Min­is­ter of Pub­lic En­ter­prises, of cor­rup­tion. The party be­lieves his daugh­ter, Anisha Gord­han, al­legedly ben­e­fited from gov­ern­ment ten­ders dur­ing his time as min­is­ter of fi­nance.

The EFF’s Com­man­der in Chief Julius Malema and his lieu­tenant Floyd Shivambu, stand ac­cused of be­ing part of the looting that col­lapsed VBS Mu­tual Bank, a black­owned fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­sti­tu­tion de­signed to cater to the needs of the ru­ral poor.

Gord­han and the EFF’s bit­ter bat­tle is ex­ac­er­bat­ing the coun­try’s eco­nomic woes. On the face of it, Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa ap­pears to be caught in the cross­fire.

Con­sid­er­ing the po­lit­i­cal mud­sling­ing , it’s per­plex­ing why Ramaphosa has not con­demned the EFF or thrown his weight be­hind Gord­han, a min­is­ter and MP he fought to be re-ap­pointed.

Gord­han has been a staunch ally of Ramaphosa, to whom he owes, in part, his po­lit­i­cal longevity .

Sur­pris­ingly, Ramaphosa has steered clear from the fall­out with Jack­son Mthembu, the ANC’s par­lia­men­tary chief whip, com­ing to Gord­han’s de­fence. Mthembu asked on Thurs­day why the ANC has not come out in de­fence of Gord­han who now ap­pears to be in­creas­ingly iso­lated within his own party.

Would it be far fetched in won­der­ing if the EFF has some sort of hold over Ramaphosa?Why do Gord­han’s sup­port­ers be­lieve Ramaphosa is “scared of the EFF”?

Only time will tell what the over­all im­pli­ca­tions of the Gord­han ver­sus the EFF feud will be for all par­ties in­volved. Or­di­nary cit­i­zens are fed-up with cor­rup­tion, crony­ism, politi­cians’ fam­ily mem­bers ben­e­fit­ing from gov­ern­ment con­tracts, or fake rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies who en­rich them­selves un­der the guise of fight­ing for the peo­ple.

The long-stand­ing feud be­tween the EFF and Gord­han can be traced back to the days of for­mer pres­i­dent AYANDA MDLULI Ja­cob Zuma’s ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2011 when Lim­popo, on the brink of fi­nan­cial col­lapse, was placed un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion when Gord­han was serv­ing as fi­nance min­is­ter. One of the provin­cial de­part­ments placed un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion was Roads and Trans­port where Pinky Kekana, a staunch ally of Malema and deputy min­is­ter of com­mu­ni­ca­tions served as MEC.

Cas­sel Mathale, then premier of Lim­popo and ally of Malema, was stripped of his pow­ers and re­de­ployed by the ANC in 2013.

Dur­ing that process, Malema faced se­ques­tra­tion from the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice and was al­most re­moved from Par­lia­ment. He felt he was be­ing un­fairly tar­geted by Gord­han. He lamented that there were other cases, far worse.

Malema lost some of his as­sets, in­clud­ing a farm in Lim­popo and a man­sion in Sand­ton. which un­doubt­edly left a bit­ter taste. Fol­low­ing the rise of the EFF, Zuma’s deal­ings with the Gup­tas were laid bare, his son, Duduzane, was im­pli­cated in a se­ries of scan­dals in which he was ac­cused of do­ing busi­ness with the state via Gup­taowned com­pa­nies.

Fast for­ward to 2018. Most of South Africa’s po­lit­i­cal heavy­weights and their chil­dren and rel­a­tives have been im­pli­cated and ac­cused of prof­it­ing from do­ing busi­ness with gov­ern­ment in spec­tac­u­larly sim­i­lar fash­ion to Zuma and Duduzane.Ev­ery week, more skele­tons fall from that closet and it is prov­ing dif­fi­cult to bury. The ANC is strug­gling to re­main uni­fied ahead of next year’s gen­eral elec­tions as ac­cu­sa­tions and fin­ger-point­ing among ANC cadres in gov­ern­ment con­tinue to mount at the state cap­ture com­mis­sion of in­quiry. By agree­ing to the terms of ref­er­ence of the Zondo Com­mis­sion, the ANC ef­fec­tively put it­self on trial.

It is no se­cret that Ramaphosa, when he be­came pres­i­dent, fol­low­ing the de­feat of the Zuma fac­tion of the ANC at Nas­rec, wanted Malema back at the ANC. Malema, a skilled or­a­tor who can rile up the masses with his charisma, is study­ing to­wards a Mas­ter’s de­gree at Unisa, putting many of his peers who ridiculed him for fail­ing wood­work in high school to shame, aca­dem­i­cally.

Through his po­lit­i­cal wheel­ing and deal­ing, Malema has man­aged to pro­pel the likes of Kekana, who once stood ac­cused of abus­ing her po­lit­i­cal au­thor­ity to set­tle po­lit­i­cal scores forhim, to be ap­pointed as deputy min­is­ter of com­mu­ni­ca­tions in Ramaphosa’s gov­ern­ment.

Also, with the merger of the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and Postal Ser­vices De­part­ment with Com­mu­ni­ca­tions on Thurs­day, it gives cre­dence that the EFF, through Kekana, has some pull .

While the war rages on and “the grass suf­fers”, it looks like the EFF has sev­eral aces up its sleeve which would ex­plain why Gord­han has been hung out to dry and left to fight his own po­lit­i­cal bat­tles.

Which­ever way one chooses to look at it, the pres­i­dent is caught in be­tween Gord­han and the EFF .

In or­der to pro­tect him­self from the EFF, will Gord­han end up be­ing col­lat­eral dam­age?

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