How 'stealth bomber' Ramaphosa can return the ANC to its former glory

23 March 2018 - 19:11 By Daniel Takalani Makananisa
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President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Masi Losi/ Sunday Times

The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president offers the ANC an opportunity for a new beginning. His ability to outsmart Jacob Zuma and engineer his removal proves his skill as a master negotiator who has the astuteness of a political stealth bomber.

Here is how Ramaphosa and the ANC can return the party to its former glory and ensure a landslide victory in the 2019 general elections.

1. Woo the EFF

It is time for the Economic Freedom Fighters to return home. Two political goals have preoccupied the EFF since its formation five years ago: the removal of Zuma as president and the land issue‚ which has seen the blossoming of a friendship between the ANC and the EFF‚ something that was inconceivable under Zuma’s rule. EFF leader Julius Malema once said he would only consider returning to the ANC if it got rid of Zuma.

The current political environment seems to present the ANC with an ideal opportunity to woo the EFF. But one obstacle may be the smaller party’s vacillating temperament. The question the ANC needs to ask is: Where could they strategically deploy the top EFF commanders‚ in particular Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Floyd Shivambu?

The two can fit in any ministerial position‚ provided they serve two consecutive terms or more. The ANC would benefit from deploying these brilliant young ministers to Parliament.

The big problem lies with figuring out where to place their commander-in-chief. Malema would not accept the same ministerial status as that of his deputies‚ because that may be deemed a demotion.

The only way to accommodate Malema in the ANC would be through an amendment to the ANC’s constitution to allow for two deputy presidents. Such a proposal has been rejected‚ because it was seen as seeking to benefit Zuma’s preferred presidential candidate‚ Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. An amendment could be a difficult nut to crack but it is the only trump card there is for the organisation of Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela to reassert its electoral dominance.

2. Change your ways

Any liberation movement that does not change its ways when in power will be forced to do so‚ either by a sway in the electorate or a coalition of civil society. A merger between the ANC and EFF is likely to necessitate fundamental changes in the ruling party‚ including a possible name change‚ should the EFF so propose.

This would be a difficult bridge to cross because the veterans’ movement in the ANC would oppose it. The current leaders of the ANC Youth League‚ who do not enjoy any recognition by the EFF‚ are also likely to reject the move. The current posts in the Presidency of Bathabile Dlamini‚ who is ANC Women’s League president‚ and Dlamini-Zuma may weaken the ability of the league to oppose a name change.

If the ANC insists on retaining its name‚ the EFF may view this as an opportune moment to place huge demands to the ANC‚ which may include the immediate arrest of those implicated in state capture.

On the other hand‚ the EFF may not call for a name change because many of its members are the sons and daughters of those in the ANC.

3. Take politics out of it

It seems that many in the ANC feel entitled to leadership positions prestige because they were once on Robben Island or in exile‚ or someone in those circumstances was their relative. This creates a highly politicised administration and is to blame for the failure of the ANC-led government to implement policies.

Skewed deployment saw people who lack merit or qualifications occupying key positions in government‚ municipalities and strategic institutions such as the SABC‚ compromising the quality of services for the past two decades. The country can no longer afford this.

The ANC should recognise that times have changed and adjust accordingly. The country has just survived a Zimbabwe moment as evidenced by the ruling party battling to convince Zuma to step down in much the same way Zanu-PF did with Robert Mugabe.

The ANC should create an environment that attracts more young people into its leadership fold. Other countries in the world have made strides in putting forward young presidential candidates. These include France’s Emmanuel Macron‚ who was 39 when he became president‚ and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Groysman and Estonia’s Jüri Ratas who were 38.

Electing a young leader may not necessarily be the best option but it is the trajectory for future politics‚ which presents a complete shift in the political paradigm. The politics of struggle credentials have become illogical‚ irrelevant and unproductive. Entitlement to top positions is something South Africa cannot afford.

The politics of the ANC should open doors to the youth because future leaders should understand politics for what it is in relation to the economy and not what it was in relation to the struggle‚ however important. It almost seemed impossible until it was done.

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