A vote for Cyril is a vote for thieves, but EFF and DA aren’t much better
Voting because of the ANC’s history will empower the faction that wants to topple him and the core of decent people in the party
Last week my heart went out to the poor men and women who try to run businesses in townships and villages across the country. I felt sorrow for the students trying to better their lives and yet, sitting in dark dormitories across the country, were unable to study. I felt tears spring to my eyes for medical workers, anguish for patients on chronic medications that need electricity to stay cold or refrigerated. There were so many people suffering across the nation because of the load-shedding sweeping the country.
We may laugh and we may make jokes about it. Many had the foresight years ago to buy generators, but these are few and far between. The reality of SA last week was that depression set in and people wondered: what now? What does this mean for me? What does this mean for our country when the trending jokes are about stage 8 and 9 load-shedding?
The loneliest man in SA must be Cyril Ramaphosa. He is being laughed at. Many of those who spoke of his Ramaphoria and his ability to turn things around are abandoning him by the boat load. Nothing could have illustrated his loneliness, his confusion, his lack of control, like the picture taken of him stuck on a train that was in turn stuck, full of passengers, on the Mabopane-Pretoria line.
It seemed some sort of tragic metaphor for the country. We are stuck, our politics are stuck and our leader is stuck. Woe is us.
The criticisms of Ramaphosa (the most telling one was a meme of him saying he is shocked by virtually everything – the state of Eskom, the trains, the economy, state capture, VBS and so much else) have heightened. In the meantime, the administration and organisation he leads are in all-out war. The Zuma faction led by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, cowed for a year, are now emboldened and are haranguing the doubt-filled Ramaphosa foot soldiers at every turn.
Many are now thinking very seriously about their votes. The EFF’s leaders first supported the Zuma state capture and threatened to kill and die for the man. They then came to be among his harshest critics. Yet can they be trusted with running anything? Allegations of corruption accompany Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu, from On Point in Limpopo through to VBS Bank to Adriano Mazzoti. They fascistically attack the free press in a manner that reminds one of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and the US’s Donald Trump, while their flirtation with violence (remember the cop beat up outside parliament?) is of great concern. In policy terms they have nothing to offer except the road to Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
I watched the Democratic Alliance’s manifesto launch in February and was appalled by their focus on “illegal immigrants”, a global code for racism these days. I have been shocked by how they have essentially taken this Trumpian trope out on the hustings. Some adviser must have told them this resonates with voters. It is xenophobic. It is dangerous. It reminds me of the DA’s predecessor, the National Party, and its influx controls.
The ANC is Ace Magashule. It is Bathabile Dlamini and Malusi Gigaba. It is Nomvula Mokonyane. It is Qedani Mahlangu. It is the Guptas and Bosasa and load-shedding and a crumbling infrastructure. It is the city of Makhanda, where they have changed the name but cannot provide clean water to the people because they have stolen ratepayers’ money. And they won’t go to jail. As Pravin Gordhan pointed out this past week, Eskom is in a shambles because money for maintenance was stolen. Yet neither he nor anyone in government stood up and challenged Jacob Zuma while the institutions that could bring thieves to book were destroyed.
These are the top three of what South Africans have to choose from on May 8. The ANC is now left with two things: its history (Mandela, Tambo and the struggle for liberation) and the reformative noises that Ramaphosa is making. That will probably be enough to make it get a majority at national level.
One has to feel sorry for Ramaphosa. He leads a small core of decent, competent individuals within the ANC – and they seem to have a workable plan for SA. His comrades, however, are dripping in dirty loot. Many are thieves who care not a jot for the people they represent.
For those voters who will go for the ANC on May 8, this is what they have to contend with. Giving their vote to the ANC’s history means giving their vote to the same people who broke their country. Giving that vote to Ramaphosa means they may be arming those who will, immediately after the May 8 election, be ratcheting up their campaign to get rid of the very same Ramaphosa for whom the electorate will have voted.