For sake of SA, I stand with Cyril
This column will be no surprise, but it comes with a warning: people will never let you forget it.
But I said months ago I’d be open about who I plan to vote for in the May 8 general elections, so I will. I’ll vote ANC nationally and, living as I do in Gauteng, provincially.
If I were in the Western Cape, I’d vote DA there. Its premier candidate in that province, Alan Winde, is going to be outstanding.
In Gauteng the DA colludes with the EFF.
Voting ANC is the only way I can think of to stand with some brave people I admire at the heart of the government who have consistently shown courage and rectitude in the face of unimaginable pressure and disgraceful thuggery.
In Cyril Ramaphosa I believe firmly that we have a chance, however slight, of beginning to set SA right after the criminal administration of former president Jacob Zuma. I don’t expect much. Ramaphosa can’t “renew” the ANC. It will slowly die.
If you accept the inevitability that the next head of state will come out of the ANC, then be grateful it is Ramaphosa.
Nor am I going to excuse his many faults, his “surprise” at every new revelation of incompetence or malfeasance in the wake of the Zuma era.
Yes, he was Zuma’s deputy for years and in charge of the Eskom “war room”.
But Zuma also mocked and abused him for all those years. So did his associates. Ramaphosa was weak while Zuma was strong.
Ramaphosa dithered while the thief did all the deciding.
The truth is he is president today because he stood by. That’s what you do in the ANC.
It may be deeply corrupted but it has its rules.
Thabo Mbeki broke the rules by not consulting anyone before firing Zuma.
Zuma broke the rules by consulting too long with the wrong people, the Guptas.
So Ramaphosa is going to tread carefully around the rules.
The longer he gets that right, the longer he stays in his job and that, in my book, is where he can do us all some good.
He can’t “renew” the ANC, but he can most certainly start reforming the state.
It’s the state, my country, that I care about, not the ANC.
Consider this: he wins a decent majority for the ANC on May 8 – say anything north of 58% – that gets him to at least the next party elective conference, in December 2022.
If the despairing suburbs are right he’ll be kicked out then.
Until then he gets to make some big decisions and I trust him to make the right ones.
For example, before the end of 2022 chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng needs to be replaced, as do judges Edwin Cameron, Johan Froneman, Chris Jafta, Sisi Khampepe and Leona Theron, all of the Constitutional Court.
Ramaphosa would have the ability to put in place a huge majority of jurists onto the apex court and these people serve for 12 years.
It is a huge protection for our society.
He would also be able to keep Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago in place for another term, as well as his accomplished deputy, Daniel Mninele.
He has already put an excellent Sars commissioner in place in Ed Kieswetter, and I’ve no doubt Shamila Batohi at the NPA is going to make her country proud.
I want to stand with them.
Also with people such as Derek Hanekom, who stood up alone in an ANC NEC meeting in late 2016 to call for Zuma’s removal.
With Vytjie Mentor and Barbara Hogan, Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas – standing up costs them their jobs.
There’s been real sacrifice in the ANC for people of principle.
Anyone can give a rousing speech in an election campaign. It’s what you do when the crowds have gone home that matters.
I know too that I will have to hold my nose when I put a cross against the ANC.
It really has been disgraceful, and I know Ramaphosa can’t fix Eskom or the health service or education. In a perfect world the DA and ANC would somehow find themselves in a sensible centre and make everything work.
But neither party is ready for the other yet.
And the conviction that Ramaphosa will be removed by his party soon after the elections? According to every NEC member I have spoken to, he has a working majority in it.
But say he doesn’t?
On what basis does someone propose they remove him? It’s the rules again. Don’t imagine he is without guile and fight of his own.
He will dispense patronage of his own too, count on it.Then they’ll get him at the national general council in 2020? Again, how?
The council cannot undo conference resolutions or appointments.
If four provinces combine to ask the council to remove a sitting ANC president it could consider it.
But buried in the infamous ANC parliamentary list are almost all the problem provincial leaders Ramaphosa wanted out of the way.
There are no four provinces united enough against him now to remove him.
What I’m going to vote for is time for him to do right.
No-one else can, literally, make the right changes in our institutions.
Of course, anything could happen to make me regret ever writing this.
But I choose to live in hope, not despair.