Earlier this week, the ANC “Top 6” ‘approved’ President Ramaphosa’s move to suspend secretary-general Ace Magashule. And anyone that fails to recognise how important this is will never give the President credit for anything, regardless of what he achieves.
et me make a disclaimer here… I’m not an ANC supporter. I never have, and probably never will, vote for them. They deserve a ton of respect for their role as a liberation movement, but, as a nearly “born free”, they’re the only ruling party I’ve known. As a (relatively) young South African, I have very little respect for the governing party that has failed to rid democratic South Africa of the scars of Apartheid. In fact, they haven’t even come close.
However, our president has achieved something significant in his successful political battle with Ace Magashule that could have profoundly positive consequences for our country for years to come…
If you had to ask any ordinary South African, regardless of race, gender, class or creed, what the biggest problem the country faces is, I think we would all agree that the silver bullet that could change just about everything for the better would be to eliminate corruption. And, yes, Ace Magashule is just one man… corruption is everywhere in South Africa. He’s gotta do way more than that, right?
Well, someone like Renaldo Gouws, a reactionary YouTuber and the DA Spokesperson for Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture in Nelson Mandela Bay, will have you believe so. But Gouws appears not to understand how the field of politics works… which is surprising, given the fact that he works for a political party and discusses current affairs for a living.
I’m sure our readers are informed enough to understand that the game of political chess is complicated, moves glacially and has knock-on effects. And corruption is a political phenomenon that exists everywhere and has been a fundamental part of South Africa, as a nation state, for our entire history… starting with colonialism, through the Apartheid era, culminating in the out-of-control rot facing our democratic regime. Corruption is not unique to the ANC, it’s deeply, deeply systemic. Rectifying this, or even just alleviating this poisonous culture of corruption in South Africa’s government is a long-term project. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The primary problem is the clear factional divide in the ANC, between Ramaphosa’s “New Dawn” and the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction, operating from Ace Magashule’s office on the sixth floor of Luthuli House. Ramaphosa has been jostling for de facto power with Magashule and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ever since the Nasrec Conference four years ago. His hands have been tied for the entire duration of his term in office (and what remained of Zuma’s term). But, having cemented his influence on the party, Ramaphosa now has political capital that hasn’t yet been available to him.
And, by suspending Ace Magashule for his corruption charges relating to a multimillion-rand asbestos eradication tender, Ramaphosa has set a precedent. Magashule’s suspension is critical; it paves the way for similar charges of corruption to be lodged against countless other state officials and, even more importantly, they will have to “step aside” while the charges are being investigated. Finally, there’s room for actual accountability.
It represents a big shift in party policy and preserves the single shard of integrity that the ANC still has. Unlike when COPE and the EFF split from the ANC (the RET faction will probably follow suit ), this party splintering will coincide with a new resolution to combat corruption. And Ramaphosa has until 2024 to bring about a wave of suspensions relating to charges of corruption, and purge the of the bad actors that have kneecapped our country’s progression towards meaningful transformation.
The ANC probably has at least one more election where they’re guaranteed to ride on the coattails of their reputation as the organisation that toppled the Apartheid regime. President Ramaphosa needs to spend the next three years, proving beyond doubt that he is truly committed to eliminating corruption. And, if he does, I might even give him my vote, because he deserves to be judged on his results as the leader of this country, not my preconceived notions about the ANC or even for the man himself.
And, if you aren’t willing to give Ramaphosa credit for ousting Magashule, nothing will ever be good enough for you. You’re arguing in bad faith.