Sello Lediga: ‘Buffalo’ Ramaphosa and South Africa must defeat Zuma-Magashule fightback
It was a truly grotesque scene at the Cosatu Congress in Midrand on Monday. The entire top ANC leadership was there as is the case on such occasions when the Tripartite Alliance displays a show of force and unity despite internal rumblings. Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as president of the ANC, and the toast of the Congress, chose his moment well and went for the jugular against his enemies in the ANC. It was, after all, Cosatu that turned against Jacob Zuma in his last days as ANC president.
Breaking his silence for the first time since reports emerged of a plot to oust him, Ramaphosa charged like a buffalo. “We should not spend time on counter-revolutionary machinations of weakening the African National Congress either in dark corners or wherever.... that must come to an end.” Ace Magashule, the Secretary-General of the ANC, named by the Sunday Times as the man working with disgraced former president Jacob Zuma to oust Ramaphosa, must have taken every word from Ramaphosa as a personal blow to his integrity. Seated in front, together with the ANC high command, Magashule was the man in the spotlight as hundreds of delegates gazed at him and applauded every word that Ramaphosa delivered against the plotters. Sensing that the anti-Zuma federation was firmly on his side, the generally civil and amiable businessman-turned-president was not yet done with Magashule. “If there’s going to be any plot.... it must be a plot to defeat poverty, that is the type of plot that we want. We can’t go into elections with a divided leadership... those that get into action that seeks to divide our people should be exposed so that we know them,” he thundered as hundreds of eyes focused yet again on the ANC Secretary-General, who seemed to have problems sitting up straight in his chair. The Buffalo had struck and Magashule was taking the blows alone in the absence of his co-accused and handler, Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa had just over a week to reflect on reports that his comrades in the ANC were plotting his demise just a few months after his elevation to the top position in the ruling party. There is no doubt that there is more in the Maharani Hotel saga than meets the eye. The fact that the pre-Nasrec NDZ high command, including the Youth League and Women’s League, met in Zuma’s stomping ground, KwaZulu-Natal, lends credence to the allegations. Of course, the great question is what was exactly discussed in that infamous meeting and whether such information will ever find the light of day, considering the actors in the drama. How will we ever know what the Maharani plotters really discussed in that gathering of the evil. Those South Africans who naively believe that Maharani was just ANC high political drama that has nothing to do with them should prepare themselves for a rude reawakening. The ANC is such a dominant force in South African politics that anything that goes wrong in the “movement” affects every aspect of South African life. It was the ANC that in 2007 chose an uneducated and morally compromised president that has led to the biggest political heist and state looting that the country has seen since the Act of Union in 1910. Today the SA economy is in tatters and the country is teetering on the brink of collapse as a result of the Zuma’s incompetence, misgovernance and greed. We are today paying the price for nine years of madness that we have been subjected to because of the crazy ANC decision in Polokwane to replace a sophisticated economist president with an avaricious and compromised ruralitarian who should never have been allowed to walk the hallowed corridors of the Union Buildings. That is what the ANC delivered for the people of South Africa and we still live with the consequences of that decision. Now, despite the fact that Zuma virtually destroyed the hegemony of the ANC in the decade he has been party president, he refuses to go despite the fact that his ex-wife was defeated in Nasrec last year and he was ignominiously recalled as president of South Africa by his party in February of 2018. Instead of appointing a writer and beginning work on his memoirs as most former presidents do in the world, he is doing stupid things to stay out of jail and has now been been accused of trying to oust his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa. He faces corruption charges in Pietermaritzburg relating to the Shabir Shaik trial while featuring prominently in the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. He is a shameless and pathetic man going around the country to mislead the youth with his rotten politics. Someone in the ANC must stop this man before it is too late. Surely South Africa cannot countenance the Second Coming of this evil man. Ramaphosa must assure the nation that this old man is consigned to Nkandla to enjoy the dwindling comforts of a rotting rural palace. The ANC is today in serious trouble and the Zuma-Magashule plotting is going to worsen the situation for Africa’s oldest liberation movement. Not only has the ANC lost key metros two years ago, the divisions and factions within the party have not subsided post-Nasrec. The NDZ and CR17 generals have not demobilised their forces and are still hard at work, albeit underground. Sickening stories of plans to attempt a putsch against Ramaphosa at the 2020 National General Council abound. The ruling party is facing its hardest election campaign since it came to power 24 years ago. The unity that was talked about after Nasrec is a mirage. With Zuma attending every NEC meeting and stoking the fires of factionalism, the former glorious movement is not only facing decline; its demise in the next few decades is a real possibility. By the time Zondo publishes his report on State Capture, the rot in Oliver Tambo’s organisation will have turned it into one of the worst ruling parties in Africa on the sheer scale of corruption and comradely greed. Most commentators agree that the anti-Ramaphosa fightback inside the party is led by beneficiaries of State Capture. It was none other than ANC intellectual and stalwart Joel Netshitenzhe who warned at an MK council that “the beneficiaries of State Capture will never give up without a fight”. That fight is on and raging intensely in the ANC. It is this fight that has divided the ANC into two distinct groups: the Ramaphosa group is determined to cleanse the organisation of criminal and threatened kleptocrats who are facing jail terms while the Zuma-Magashule axis is desperately manoeuvring to reclaim power and stay out of prison. It is therefore in the interests of all South Africans, including the parliamentary opposition parties, that Ramaphosa triumphs over his enemies inside the party. The billions that have been looted by the Guptas and others do not belong to an ANC, the money belongs to all tax-paying South Africans. It is upon Ramaphosa’s broad shoulders that the future of this country rests. In the unlikely case that the beneficiaries of State Capture emerge victorious in their 2020 dream of ousting Ramaphosa, South Africa would surely enter a new era that would ultimately collapse this nascent democracy and its struggling economy. It is therefore in the best interests of all South Africans that the beneficiaries of State Capture be defeated, tried, prosecuted and finally jailed. Should this fail and the cabal reclaim the ANC by ousting Ramaphosa, the consequences for all South Africans will be “too ghastly to contemplate”. DM Sello Lediga is a social commentator, author and CEO of the Thuma Mina Movement