Last week, a lot happened: the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC resolved on Tuesday morning (13/02/2018) to recall President Jacob Zuma as a “deployee” of the ANC, in other words, the ANC NEC essentially asked President Zuma to resign as State President.
The next day, Valentine’s Day, President Zuma addressed the nation live on SABC TV, saying that he had not been given any reasons for the recall. He also revealed that he and ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa, had earlier agreed that he would resign after a period of three to six months to allow for a proper handover. He thus felt betrayed, but made it clear that he was not defying the ANC, but merely disagreed with the manner they had gone about this matter. Then, just before midnight on that day, President Zuma resigned.
There is so much that can be said about the intrigues of this palace coup, but I shall leave that for another day. The reality is that Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa is now the South African State President; he was sworn in last week Thursday, and he delivered his maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Friday.
Needless to say, the ANC must reinvent and reinvigorate itself before next year’s national elections. Thus, the introduction of Cde Ramaphosa is not a bad idea, because he is a darling of the predominantly white-owned media, and he is adored by the extremely rich whites (known in leftist lingo as White Monopoly Capital, WMC). However, this transition could and should have been done less acrimoniously.
It remains to be seen whether President Ramaphosa will implement the resolutions of the 54th ANC Conference last year, especially with regard to Radical Economic Transformation (RET), the expropriation of land without compensation, and free tertiary education. In his SONA last week, he confirmed his commitment to these noble intentions.
In reply to the issues raised during the SONA debate, President Ramaphosa talked about the “original sin”, which he explained as the violent expropriation of indigenous land without compensation by the European colonisers. This original sin created a chain reaction of colonial events that have impoverished and disempowered the indigenous people. This original sin has not yet been dealt with decisively, which is why the expropriation of land without compensation by the ANC government will be a constitutional means of righting the colonial wrongs that were caused by the original sin.
If President Ramaphosa can successfully tackle the original sin and its effects, it will place him and the ANC on a special historical and revolutionary pedestal. For too long now, the black masses of South Africa have endured the pain of being promised an illusory pie in the sky.
Any mention of radical economic transformation has so far been met with resistance by WMC; for instance, the Chamber of Mines in South Africa took the South African government to court in order to reverse the gazetting of the Mining Charter which was intended to empower black South Africans to take ownership of their natural resources. Following the swearing in of President Ramaphosa, and his promise to revisit the Charter, they have now put the court challenge on hold!
I do not envy President Ramaphosa: he must execute a radical economic transformation agenda initiated by President Zuma, and at the same time he must attempt to ensure that there is no significant backlash from WMC.