Five times Cyril Ramaphosa put the party before the…

As he prepares to deliver his sixth state of the nation address since becoming head of state, President Cyril Ramaphosa has proven unable to break the ANC leadership model of putting the party before the people.

This creates instability for his presidency and a downward trajectory of growth, jobs and investment for his country.

At five crucial junctures, he made decisions that favor his position in the party in relation to the law and the betterment of South Africa.

Ramaphosa was elected president of the ANC in December 2017. Winning with a narrow majority of 279 votes, he said he was establishing a “bridgehead”. He used the policy of accommodation to expand this position to carry out his reform mandate.

This means that he has become an unworkable structure taking into account the different factional interests in his cabinet. The July 2021 Violence Expert Panel Report, chaired by Professor Sandy Africa, says a divided Cabinet has catalyzed an inconsistent response.

“It is very clear that different heads of government had different interpretations of what was happening, and this resulted in an uncoordinated response. Ministers differed from each other; there were differences between some ministers and the officials who reported to them.

A group of elders convened by Africa and its co-panelists, Mojanku Gumbi and Silumko Sokupa, said the July riots had been a “spectacular failure of governance”, while other veterans of the security services said that events had presaged the issue of state collapse.

The report found that “poorly deployed service delivery programs and unacceptable living conditions, the state of the economy and persistent levels of poverty, served to provide a ripe environment to ignite the powder keg that was the “The incarceration of former President Zuma has led to many poor and desperate people joining in the looting, alongside people who are more calculating in their goals and motives.”

July 2021 riots

In the immediate aftermath of July’s ‘failed uprising’, Ramaphosa used strong language, saying no effort would be spared to find the masterminds who stoked the violence and looting for which more than 300 people died and who robbed 50 billion rands of GDP.

Latest figures from the SA Property Association show 2,362 shops were looted and the economy lost 3,217 jobs. Most of the retail, banking and construction company results released since have detailed how July’s violence impacted the economy and hampered investment.

To date, not a single mastermind has been arrested – a few social media mavens have been arrested and charged, and the Ramaphosa-appointed inquiry into the intelligence failures that led to the violence has not been heard from since. .

Hundreds of people have been arrested and released on bail, but the National Prosecuting Authority has never provided detailed information on prosecution progress or strategy.

The violence report states that “the ANC admits that some of those inciting violence were its members and called on them to end this behavior, but it is unclear whether their disciplinary action was taken against these members. “.

It is well known that the arrest and imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court has been a political catalyst for rioting and looting, and that branches, members and structures of the ANC have been involved. Once that became clear, Ramaphosa took his foot off the pedal and left all the stones unturned.

The National Security Council was not prepared for violence.

“The National Security Council had not sat regularly until July 2021 despite warnings from NICOC (National Intelligence Coordinating Committee) that 2021 was going to be a particularly volatile year.

“This is concerning, given that it was clear that there was an increased mobilization for the protests…As the standoff over the case of former President Zuma before the Constitutional Court unfolded , tensions continued to mount, particularly on the political front,” according to the report. .

The Cabinet must take overall responsibility for the events of July 2021, and the National Security Council must work much more effectively, according to the report.

“The question that remains is whether the National Security Council sat down, following the riots, to conduct a thorough analysis of what happened, why it happened, who was behind it, what was its ultimate goal or why the country faces constant threats, instability and related issues.

The panel found that there was a “culture of lawlessness” in South Africa and that state authority had been eroded with no visible plan to address it.

The president’s National Security Council chart shows that crucial positions remain unfilled: the posts of intelligence coordinator and head of domestic intelligence have been vacant for months. The suspension of Robert McBride, the director of foreign intelligence, is shrouded in silence. Defense Secretary Gladys Sonto Kudjoe was named to the Zondo State Capture Inquiry as having been, in her former position, part of the network that captured the intelligence structures, but she remains in a role strategic.

Minister for the Presidency Mondli Gungubele is now in charge of intelligence after his appointment in January. There is no clarity on what this position entails or how Deputy Minister for the Presidency Zizi Kodwa fits into the picture. Ramaphosa has not resolved the politicization of intelligence or clarified its opaque operations because it costs too much politically.

“The possibility that the faceless people behind this attack on the state were aware of weaknesses in the security services makes the task of rebuilding a credible and professional intelligence service even more urgent,” the Sandy Africa report said.

He added that “…business leaders urged the President, given the negative impact on investor confidence, to assure investors that the government is taking urgent action to address identified weaknesses in security, public order and intelligence…”.

The report also states that “internal differences within the ANC must be addressed now as a matter of national security”.

Medical parole for Zuma — September 2021

In September 2021, then-Commissioner of Corrections Arthur Fraser overturned the opinion of the Medical Parole Appeal Board to grant Zuma a release card. Before making the decision, Fraser informed Ramaphosa of his intentions. The president did not object. His people spread the rumor that Zuma was on his deathbed when, in fact, he was in poor health.

The reason was clear. Having Zuma behind bars was politically damaging to the president. A December appeal judgment ordered the former head of state to return to prison to complete his contempt of court sentence, but he appealed the decision. The decision to grant Zuma medical parole, with Ramaphosa’s approval, means that Zuma – the man at the center of the state capture – will most likely never face charges in this regard.

Hostage taking, October 2021

In October 2021, Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs Thandi Modise, his deputy Thabang Makwetla and Mondli Gungubele were taken hostage by dozens of former ANC MK fighters.

It took police intervention to get them released – 56 veterans were arrested and three injured. Since then, Modise, Ramaphosa and Gungubele have refused to communicate about the hostage taking.

Journalist Rebecca Davis reported that the hostage taker who led the group works for the Municipality of eThekwini, while 43 have a criminal record. The veterans renamed themselves Veterans of the Liberation War after the ANC disbanded the MK Military Veterans Association. This portends the creation of a political force such as that formed by ex-combatants in Zimbabwe. They are used as a paramilitary group by Zanu-PF whenever authoritarian leaders demand the execution of a pet political project.

Commissioner SAPS Khehla Sitole, ongoing

Almost four months ago, Ramaphosa asked Sitole to brief him on why he shouldn’t be suspended.

Crime is entirely out of control after Covid ravages the economy. Burglaries, robberies, thefts of cash in transit and murders have reached and in some cases exceeded record levels. The police failed.

But because Sitole was appointed by Zuma and has supporters in the security structures who are still loyal to him, he has not budged. The failure to keep citizens safe – as the party wins at the expense of the state – plays out most gruesomely in the political theater of criminal justice mismanagement.

The Sandy Africa report found that Sitole did not provide Police Minister Bheki Cele with a threat and risk assessment, or an early warning report, before the July violence, despite the intelligence alert criminals in June before Zuma’s imprisonment.

The report found that the police department had been “overwhelmed” because public order enforcement was not adequately resourced. Moreover, the rivalry between Cele and Sitole was a potential risk.

“It must be said that the Minister of Police was scathing in his criticism of the South African Police Service,” the report concludes.

The report says the police decision to illegally buy grabbers to eavesdrop on conversations at the ANC conference in 2017 still divides cops. The Sandy Africa team has heard reports that SAPS members and elements of the State Security Agency may have been involved in the looting.

ANC executive suite voice notes leaked

In December 2021, edited voice notes from the ANC National Executive Committee were leaked. Journalist Stephen Grootes transcribed and analyzed them.

Politics and records – latest RET claim could inflict pain on ANC – but no legal worries for Ramaphosa

The background to the leaks is the factional war within the ANC which continues to rage after five years of Ramaphosa’s appeasement policy. He now faces an investigation by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts – these voice notes suggest Ramaphosa knows state funds are being used to fight ANC battles.

Ramaphosa’s presidency waned from a strong start to a slow fizzle.

One of the reasons for this is that he has a constant eye on renewing his mandate at the ANC’s elective conference scheduled for the end of 2022.

The strategy of putting party first and country second backfired. Ramaphosa now has very little time to turn things around. DM


Joseph K. Bennett