Ramaphosa better than Zuma ... but still no 'new dawn' says Maimane

10 December 2018 - 16:03 By ANDISIWE MAKINANA
DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

While DA leader Mmusi Maimane has a better personal relationship with President Cyril Ramaphosa than he had with Jacob Zuma, he is adamant that Ramaphosa's "new dawn" is no better than Zuma's regime.

"Despite the change of leadership in the ANC, no significant reforms have taken place," he told journalists in parliament on Monday.

"When you reflect on this year, it is very clear that in an ANC government, despite Ramaphosa, no significant reforms have taken place. Furthermore, the governance architecture has not become better. In certain instances, it has become worse."

Ramaphosa was elected in February, bringing an end to almost nine years of Zuma's presidency as the ANC forced him to leave office. But Maimane warned that South Africa should not believe "the myth that there is good ANC and bad ANC".

Presenting his party's view of how the national government performed in 2018, Maimane said that while Ramaphosa came to office promising tough action on corruption and to get the economy growing to create jobs, progress on both fronts has been elusive.

"Without doubt, no real structural reforms have been done," said Maimane. "Our country needs structural reforms. It's not just a question of rooting out corruption."

He said Ramaphosa may very well be the president, but he was obviously not in charge of the ANC. He alluded to the retention in the cabinet of controversial ministers - including those with court findings against them - as evidence that the party was in control, not the president.

Our country needs structural reforms. It's not just a question of rooting out corruption.
Mmusi Maimane

"In the quest of rooting out corruption, not a single citizen who has been implicated in crimes of corruption has been arrested. It's anomalous that we can all watch the state capture commission and fail to recognise that not a single individual has been arrested, let alone charged and prosecuted.

"We may run the risk of believing that state capture is a Zuma project, but it's not. It was a modus operandi by the ANC. It was a declaration in the national democratic revolution to say, 'Let us capture the levers of the state'. It was followed by cadre deployment and, naturally, corruption is an outcome."

Expanding on structural reform, Maimane said it was time that SAA be put on the market to ensure that the airline was not dependent on bailouts but could compete like any other.

"We should, by now - if we were looking at reforming Eskom - have allowed municipalities to be able to purchase energy directly from independent power producers, and have split Eskom into two companies." This would allow for healthy competition in the market.

"We would be having a different conversation about renewable energy and cheaper energy for consumers," he added.

The DA's proposed Independent System and Market Operator Bill is scheduled to be tabled in January. In it the party proposes breaking the monopoly of state-owned energy supplier Eskom and making provision for municipalities to be able to purchase energy from other suppliers.

On job creation, Maimane criticised Ramaphosa, saying: "We are having talk-shops/summits and repackaging investments that were anyway going to be done as new investments. If we were serious about new investments, we would have designed a new visa regime that allows for more people to be able to come to SA easier and quicker, so that tourism can be stimulated."

Despite his complaints, Maimane described his relationship with Ramaphosa as "a very good relationship, certainly one that is better than Mr Zuma". He revealed that the two  planned to discuss working more effectively in the international arena because "when we both leave the country, we represent South Africa, so that's important".

"We differ a lot on domestic issues because I think he believes fundamentally in state-led economic development. I don't. I reject the idea outright. I believe in the market-based economy.

"It's for that reason he would favour more state-owned entities, and it's for that reason I would favour that some of them must be private or part-privatised, so that we can enhance the sense of competition in the market.

"We differ but that there is dialogue is better and that we can hold each other accountable remains an important dynamic," added Maimane.