Editorial

Good luck, Mr President - and beware the traitors in your own ranks

26 May 2019 - 00:02 By SUNDAY TIMES

President Cyril Ramaphosa is a man on a mission - to unite and give hope to all South Africans.
Listening to Ramaphosa delivering his speech at his inauguration in Tshwane yesterday, it was clear that he wanted South Africans to believe that they had, once again, entered the age of hope and were leaving behind what many describe as a decade of despair. The past couple of years have been hard and have left South Africans divided along racial lines.
Not only that, this period has left our young democracy in a worse state than we could have believed. Our institutions of democracy, bar a few of the most resilient, came under extreme onslaught and many were seriously compromised. It was in this period that we witnessed the quantum of corruption multiplying right in front of our eyes.
What was the result? Billions of our tax rands, milked from state coffers, have left the country and are unlikely to ever come back. From an age of hope that was ushered in by the swearing-in of our first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, our country quickly slid and found itself trapped in a winter of discontent.
Though hard pressed on every side, South Africans have never lost hope that one day this country will be rescued from the corrosive clutches of corruption.Yesterday, that hope was revived in the hearts of many. "In the face of all these challenges our people have remained resolute, resilient, unwavering in their desire for a better SA. Through the irrefutable power of the ballot on May 8, South Africans declared the dawn of a new era. They have chosen hope over hopelessness, they have opted for unity over conflict and divisions," Ramaphosa said yesterday."As we give effect to their mandate, we draw comfort from the knowledge that that which unites us is far, far more powerful and enduring than that which divides us. Despite our differences, despite a past of conflict and division and bitterness . we share the same hopes and fears, the same anxieties and aspirations. We all want our children to have lives that are better than our own, to have work that is dignified and rewarding."As excited as we may be by Ramaphosa's promise of brighter days ahead, we must always be mindful that this will not be realised if he does not get support from all of us, especially his own organisation, the ANC. While his speech gave everyone hope, we are not convinced that he will have the backing of those he leaves behind at the party's headquarters, Luthuli House, as he focuses on getting our government to work again.
The events of this past week are a clear indication that the president will have to be forever vigilant because those who never wanted him to ascend to the highest office appear to be using party headquarters to regroup and consolidate their power. Fortunately for him, their plan was exposed this week.
It started on Monday following the ANC's national executive committee meeting in Cape Town when secretary-general Ace Magashule announced that the party would nominate Nomvula Mokonyane to the powerful position of chair of chairs. Two days later she said she was withdrawing her name from the list of ANC MPs, and therefore could not be elected to the position. Her withdrawal came a day after the party disclosed that Baleka Mbete, former speaker of parliament, and Malusi Gigaba, seen by many as one of the enablers of state capture, had also decided to not make themselves available as MPs.
These withdrawals, taken at face value, mean absolutely nothing. What must worry Ramaphosa are reports that Gigaba and Mokonyane are both headed for Luthuli House, where Magashule is consolidating his power. There they will find others who are opposed to Ramaphosa, including Magashule's deputy, Jessie Duarte, Carl Niehaus, Pule Mabe and Dakota Legoete. This is a potent mix of loyalists of former president Jacob Zuma. Watch your back, Mr President...

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