Shadow of Magashule clouds Ramaphosa's New Dawn
The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president at the party's conference at Nasrec in December 2017 went a long way to lifting the gloom that had settled over SA during the deleterious and chaotic years in the era of former president Jacob Zuma. Zuma had lined up his former wife, albeit an ANC veteran in her own right, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as his successor and, with the help of the so-called "Premier League" of powerful provincial premiers, it was widely expected that she would prevail.
But this faction's best-laid plans did not factor in the monumental duplicity of former Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza, whose political acrobatics resulted in the Zuma crowd losing out to the more moderate and business-friendly Ramaphosa, which was a severe setback for Zuma's radical economic transformation ticket.
Nonetheless, Ramaphosa's victory, while not quite hollow, came with compromises. On the policy front Ramaphosa was saddled with expropriation of land without compensation and a commitment to nationalise the Reserve Bank, both of which would, and continue to, weaken his call to foreign investors to give SA a second chance.
On the personnel front, the compromise meant including questionable personalities, notably former Free State premier Ace Magashule, as secretary-general.
Since then, amid sensational revelations at the Zondo inquiry about the depths to which ANC leaders sank to further the avaricious appetites of the immigrant Gupta family, Ramaphosa's New Dawn has battled to gain traction. Each day brings more damning claims, giving the lie to the ANC's promise to want to deliver for SA "a better life for all". Instead, we learn, the elite of the ruling party seem to have "the best life of all", with piles of illicit cash at their disposal and gallons of expensive yet free whisky to wash down the chicken and braai packs.
While Ramaphosa has been the silver lining atop this disgusting cloud of gluttony and self-enrichment that threatens the very existence of a democratic SA, Magashule has come to personify the cloud itself.
Last year, the Sunday Times reported on his presence at a secret meeting in a Durban hotel of the disgruntled who support Zuma. This prompted Ramaphosa to warn about "plots in dark corners", followed by strident denials from Magashule, who downplayed the existence of a plot while suggesting that the ANC could recall Ramaphosa if it so wanted.
Nonetheless, Magashule's fealty to Ramaphosa has not stopped him contradicting the president on matters such as the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank and the pursuit of that thinly veiled form of looting that calls itself "radical economic transformation".
While Ramaphosa courts Western investors, Magashule shows his true ideological colours in statements like this: "I must take the leadership of Cosas in the Free State to North Korea, where you will be stunned to see a grade 3 learner studying robotics, which is unfortunately not the type of education in SA." North Korea? A beggar, slave state.
It is no coincidence that Magashule's Free State has been a springboard for the Guptas' money-grubbing tendencies, demonstrated by the theft of millions meant for the Estina dairy farm project to pay for an obscenely ostentatious family wedding at Sun City.
Today we carry excerpts and reports of a new book that lays bare more damning details of the life and machinations of Magashule, who has been threatening for some time to pay Zondo a visit. Much like Zuma, whom Magashule still insists on addressing as "president Zuma", Magashule claims to have lots of dirt on others in the party, secrets which he is presumably, and unlawfully, keeping to himself.
Magashule should visit Zondo and tell us what he knows. In the meantime, the law-enforcement agencies must do their work, and if that implicates Magashule, so be it.
It will be a vital step in our transition from a gangster state to one which truly offers the people a better life for all, and not just for those who have savoured the Gupta curry.