Opinion

No chance of Ramaphosa being ousted, so his focus should be on not being another failed president

19 May 2019 - 00:07


Julius Malema highlighted two talking points that President Cyril Ramaphosa's detractors are hoping to rally around. As the chief purveyor of national gossip, the EFF leader is able to voice what the villains in the ANC are unable to say out loud.
At an EFF media briefing on Thursday, Malema said Ramaphosa would pay the cost of reducing the ANC's vote share.
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"You can praise him because you think you are defending him [but] he reduced ANC votes [to] 57%; the man has cost the ANC, worse than what [Jacob] Zuma did to the ANC," Malema said."He will still have to answer for that."Malema also repeated the claim that Ramaphosa would not see out his term as ANC president and would be removed by the opposition faction at the party's national general council (NGC) next year."Cyril is going to have a problem. He deviated from ANC policy - he has given his enemies a weapon to destroy him," Malema said.
Malema is correct that the ANC's national tally of 57.5% is worse than what the party notched up with Zuma at the top of the ticket. There is no disputing that this was the ANC's worst electoral performance since 1994.But even with Malema's predilection to bend reality to suit his tirades, no-one can seriously argue that the ANC's dip in support in the elections was because people preferred Zuma to Ramaphosa.If anything, Zuma's legacy hangs thickly over the party and the ANC's inability to hold him and his cohorts answerable for wrecking the state is one of the reasons it took a beating at the polls.The good thing for Ramaphosa is that his detractors have no real ammunition against him. The claim that he will be removed as ANC leader next year is a bogeyman, and virtually impossible to pull off.If the ANC could not remove Zuma after he violated the constitution, betrayed his oath of office and handed over the state to the Guptas, there is no possible way a waning faction can influence the vast majority of ANC members to eject Ramaphosa as ANC leader.In both Zuma and Thabo Mbeki's cases, they were recalled from office only after they ceased to be ANC presidents. Attempting to remove the leader of the party has never been tried in recent history, and would probably cause the ANC to implode.So Ramaphosa has no cause to be treading on eggshells after the elections. It is clear, however, that he took the ANC's drop in support to heart.Ramaphosa arrived at the election results ceremony last Saturday looking like his dog had died rather than the person who had just rescued his party from having to share power in order to govern.His drawn look could have been due to fatigue after a gruelling campaign. But at the ANC's victory celebration outside Luthuli House the next day, Ramaphosa conceded that the party had been chastened.He promised that the ANC was no longer an arrogant party and had heard the candid message from the electorate.This is in stark contrast to how Zuma reacted after the ANC lost power in key metros in the August 2016 local government elections. Zuma said at the time that criticism of the ANC's performance was unwarranted as it still garnered double the percentage of the biggest opposition party.Nobody dared to challenge Zuma's logic back then.The situation is different now because the leader of the opposition faction is the secretary-general of the ANC. Ace Magashule hardly makes an effort to conceal his disdain for Ramaphosa and seems determined to continue to undermine his agenda.But Ramaphosa's presidency will not be built on shadowboxing with Magashule and his faction. Neither will the next five years be defined by the squawking and tantrums in the opposition benches in parliament.
The big difference between Zuma and Ramaphosa is that nobody expected much from the former president. Zuma's presidency was consumed by a series of astonishing scandals that caused epic showdowns in parliament.The performance of the government was ancillary.Ramaphosa talked a big game on the election trail about stimulating the economy, creating jobs, getting the government to operate efficiently and taking a hard stance against corruption.Expectations of a massive turnaround in the government have been built and Ramaphosa's every move is under scrutiny.He got off to a good start this week by appointing advocate Hermione Cronje as head of the new investigating directorate at the National Prosecuting Authority.This will hopefully boost the ability of the state to present solid, winnable corruption cases in court.There is no axe hanging over Ramaphosa's head, as Malema claimed.But after all the big talk, the real test will be whether Ramaphosa has the ability to implement what he promised and whether his initiatives have the desired effect.If the country still cannot create jobs, boost growth and stop the rot, being deposed might actually look preferable to being a failed president.

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