'South Africa could have been client state of Russia'

Lindiwe Mazibuko was the keynote speaker at the post-election PSG in Motion function
Lindiwe Mazibuko was the keynote speaker at the post-election PSG in Motion function
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

Had former president Jacob Zuma’s faction prevailed at the ANC’s elective conference in Nasrec in 2017, we would be living in a very different SA.

South Africa would not only be a client state of Russia but the country would have been downgraded to junk status by Moody’s rating agency.

And Zuma would have refused to step down until the election in May.

This is the view of former DA leader in parliament Lindiwe Mazibuko, who was speaking at the PSG in Motion function at the Boardwalk on Thursday evening.

Mazibuko was discussing the post-election political and economic outlook.

“With the right faction in power, Vladimir Putin and the Russians would have got what they wanted out of this government,” she said.

“The nuclear deal would have gone through and we’d be a client state of Russia.

“Trillions and trillions of rands’ worth of a nuclear deal that we could not afford and did not need – the dotted line had been signed.”

Mazibuko said she was glad Ramaphosa had won as he had already made key appointments, including that of the new director of public prosecutions, advocate Shamila Batohi.

She listed Batohi’s appointment among occurrences that would not have happened under a faction linked to Zuma.

Another key event Mazibuko said she looked forward to was the unbundling of electricity generation from Eskom.

“Hopefully the other stateowned enterprises will follow.

“We’re in tough place at the moment but I have no doubt it could have been a lot worse.”

Mazibuko said many had forgotten how, in 2016 and 2017, it seemed unlikely that Ramaphosa would emerge victorious at Nasrec.

“The prevailing narrative at the time was ‘Ramaphosa is a nice guy, he’s going to give it a bash but he’s probably going to lose – Zuma’s faction will be triumphant at Nasrec’.

“I want to remind you what it took for Ramaphosa to be triumphant – three provinces had to fall.

“Three provincial electoral committees had to have their provincial elective conferences invalidated in court and they were all not in support of Ramaphosa.

“On top of that David Mabuza and his Mpumalanga vote all had to swing over to Ramaphosa’s side and even under these circumstances he had to eke out a few percentage points’ worth of a win.”

Mazibuko also touched on the DA’s decrease in support in the general election, which she attributed to the party basing its strategy on a Zuma win in Nasrec. She also unpacked how studying abroad had broadened her mind.

In 2016 Mazibuko graduated from a master’s programme at Harvard University. She was later invited to stay on as a fellow at the Institute of Politics, where she had to teach a class.

As a fellow she also designed a curriculum called “How to build a democracy: Lessons from Southern Africa”.

Mazibuko said her curriculum focused on how Southern Africa had built institutions, challenged laws, written constitutions and defended the idea of democracy.

She later joined the Apolitical Academy as an adviser.

Mazibuko added that South Africans were too focused on party politics.