ANALYSIS: Ramaphosa has begun the load-shedding we do want
Don't worry, the Zuma faction is on the wane and the president's plan seems to be working
This will be short and sweet. So many people ask me (some politely and some not) what will happen to President Cyril Ramaphosa after the election. It’s pretty certain the ANC will win the election on May 8, no matter what Eskom does to us.
But a lot of people worry about the threats to Ramaphosa after that. There are, for instance, constant mutterings about the party, having won, getting rid of Ramaphosa and going back to its thieving Zuma ways. The moment for that would be a national general council (NGC) meeting that has to be held 30 months after the last national conference, which was where Ramaphosa was elected ANC president in December 2017.
There is almost no way of calming people down about this. They assume because Ramaphosa hasn’t personally already jailed Malusi Gigaba or Bathabile Dlamini that he is too weak and that his fall is inevitable. A mere matter of time.
They see it in the list of candidates that parties have now submitted ahead of the election. Dlamini and Gigaba and Nomvula Mokonyane made it onto the ANC list and you would have thought the sky had fallen in.
Whereas, in actual fact, if that matters now that we’re all hysterical, the list is overwhelmingly weighted towards Ramaphosa. There will be no problems in parliament for him.
Poor old David Des van Rooyen is not even going to be an MP anymore. Neither is Nathi Nhleko. Even better, Ramaphosa managed to lance real political boils in three provinces by getting their premiers transferred to parliament as MPs. The national stage, you know. A promotion! They are going to just love Cape Town, being whipped into the party line on pain of being unemployed, and the lovely parliamentary village of pokey houses MPs live in when in session.
Off to parliament are Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle, trouble for Ramaphosa; Northern Cape premier Sylvia Lucas, a real pain in the neck; and former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, who we all know loves Jacob Zuma a lot. This opens the way for Ramaphosa to insert more amenable provincial leaders where he needs cool and smarter heads.
We sometimes forget who has gone since Zuma was toppled. In his first cabinet Ramaphosa turfed out Mosebenzi Zwane, Lynne Brown, Joe Maswanganyi (the former transport minister who pitched forward into the chair in front of him when he heard the leadership vote had gone against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma), Van Rooyen, Faith Muthambi, David Mahlobo, Hlengiwe Mkhize, Fikile Mbalula, Nhleko and Bongani Bongo. Then Gigaba and then Nhlanhla Nene left too.
Sure, some of the gang will be back in parliament, but they pose no threat to a reforming administration. If anything, some may face arrest and prosecution in the next few months as the new head of the NPA, Shamila Batohi, gets her feet under her desk.
Yes, yes, I hear you cry, but the Zuma people will get him at the NGC.
Actually, they won’t. An NGC can change any decision taken by the national executive committee but not decisions taken at a national conference. An NGC can fill vacancies but not create any. A special conference can be convened if the majority of provinces (five) call for it but if you do even the most basic maths, that just isn’t going to happen.
The fact is, Zuma’s influence on the party is on the wane. Ramaphosa will have the parliamentary caucus and most provinces, and he has a comfortable majority in the NEC. He does this by deliberately not creating division in the party.
If that means shouting from the gallery because Gigaba is going back to parliament he will ignore it. If Gigaba has committed any crimes and Batohi comes knocking, Ramaphosa just won’t be there to make the problems go away. He’ll let the state do its job.
Doing that enables him to stay in office so he and Pravin Gordhan and Ebrahim Patel and Tito Mboweni and other like-minded ministers can get on with trying to fix the state their party has stuffed up.
That, as load-shedding is here to remind us, is the real job.