Recently South Africans and all people with a keen interest in South African politics witnessed democracy in action when the National Assembly exercised its constitutional right to hold the president of South Africa to accountable on matters of significant political implication to the republic. In a normal question and answer session, the leader of the opposition, Mmusi Maimane took President Cyril Ramaphosa to task over a ZAR500 000 payments made by the political controversial company, Bosasa to his son, Andile Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa stated with the greatest ease that the payment was above board and was a payment for consulting services rendered to Bosasa by Andile. However, the president wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, and asked to withdraw his statement in Parliament. It turns out that the payment was made to a fund set up to support Ramaphosa’s bid to become the ANC president at last year’s ANC elective conference, which he subsequently won against Nkosazane Dlamini-Zuma.
Ramaphosa’s pronounced his lack of knowledge over the payment to his campaign bid and promised to pay back the money. However, this has not sat easy with opposition parties and the greater civil society for a couple of reasons Firstly, even if the money is paid back to Bosasa (now known as Africa Global Operations), it is important for us to know what the money was used for as pertaining to his campaign against Dlamini-Zuma, given that it is no secret that ANC’s elective campaign battles are fuelled by the “ritual” of vote buying of branches and delegates in order to ensure support for a particular candidate or slate. This was especially true for the Dlamini Zuma slate, which made use of private sector donations and access to state coffers in order to wage factional battles within the ANC. Given the dirty style of fighting engineered by factional politics, many have been of the opinion that for Ramaphosa to have waged an effective war for the throne, he needed to also get his hands dirty and use his vast financial capital to meet his opponents at the gravy train of ANC factional battles to secure delegate support.
It is in this context that we must not only look at the Bosasa scandal but ANC’s internal campaign financing structure and how private stakeholders have and continue to shape the ANC’s internal processes and how this intern gives these private individuals and companies influence over ANC policy and access to state resources and contracts. What influence does Africa Global Operations have on the ANC and given Ramaphosa proximity to the company through his son, what have been the benefits for the company? The same company that have for years benefited from state contracts of up to ZAR 1.3bn dating back from the Zuma years. Moreover, beyond the need to know about what the payment was used for, we need to assess openly the rise of any other private interests that may seek to exert influence over the ANC by default the Ramaphosa administration. I need not point out how joyful JSE was upon his election and the nexus of the Motsepe dynasty-family connections to Ramaphosa and how Patrice Motsepe has become the centre of black business and its connection to the state. Could we possible be gravitating towards a new dynastic control/capture of the state just painted with the brush called a “new dawn”?
Needless to say, Ramaphosa’s rise to the highest seat in the land has been on the wave of being perceived as the anti-corruption “messiah”. This in a bid to distance himself from the dark cloud of the Zuma years, he has sought to define his presidency as one which will seek to clear the cloud and let the sunshine of economic growth and ethical leadership dawn on South Africa. However, given that his genesis is rooted to Zuma’s exodus, how realistic are his ambitions? Especially as he must face an ANC divided and bruised by factionalism, patronage and career politics. As Ramaphosa’s traction grows, he will need to get ahead of any scandals and take the nation into his confidence. The politics of reaction just won’t cut it, especially given how fed up South Africans are with corrupt politicians who continue to place self before country! For a man seeking to paint himself as a true disciple of Nelson Mandela, he will not only have to get ahead of the narrative but will need to repent about any dubious activities that would rob him of a presidency far removed from that of Zuma. It is my belief that if he does this, he will maintain the moral high ground that has left both the DA and the EFF squirming for a political response to the Ramaphosa effect that has even had international stakeholders excited about South Africa again.