Cyril Ramaphosa has the power. That needs to be realised louder than the uselessly negative opinions that have flooded us since his election as ANC president. The past week has been an interesting amalgamation of fear, hope, allegations, lies, tainted victories, hate and hysteria. Being predictable doomsayers will not help South Africans be effectively objective or supportive. A better future requires common sense now.
THE COMING LAND GRABS
As the ruling party, what the ANC decides as policy has the potential to become law in South Africa. Its recent decisions regarding land have generated controversy. All big decisions should. Shouting doesn’t make either side right, only facts can. Facts can also present the awkwardness of neither being right or wrong.
The ANC has decided that land can be taken without compensation, effectively taking it from white owners to give to previously disadvantaged blacks. Depending which side you’re on, that’s either theft or justice.
There will always be inequality but the local version gains size through racism. It’s undeniable that white farmers and corporates own a disproportionate amount of land. As undeniable is that their wealth is offset by their contribution to the economy through the creation of employment and food security that sees no colour. ANC rhetoric for votes conveniently ignores that the state is a large landowner too, and that there has been gross mismanagement of black empowerment land deals that has been detrimental to all. Logic should dictate sorting the latter before initiating the land without compensation debate. Politics sees no logic so we’re forced to confront this monster, probably best in a manner that everybody wins and loses.
Contrary opinion cannot deny that the mantras of “white monopoly capital” and “radical economic transformation” rally the majority of the population. Being black is incidental. Being the majority is what counts most. The DA, the main opposition party, may claim to be more racially inclusive than the ANC but when it comes to policy it will likely find itself at odds with much of its black membership. The desire for more, justified or unjustified, is a compelling force. The DA has no mantras near as powerful as the ANC’s or the EFF’s. The DA’s engine is fueled by hate for Zuma, a petrol station that is starting to run dry. The voice of Mmusi Maimane, the DA’s figurehead, has grown softer even in media biased towards his party. Even at his height, he was never the commanding figure that Helen Zille, his predecessor, was.
To enable this land claim policy, the ANC needs to change the Constitution of South Africa. That requires a two-thirds majority they don’t have… but other parties will quickly jump on board, particularly the EFF. That would be powerfully convenient for the EFF as their position as the second biggest opposition is diluted by Ramaphosa’s win over Jacob Zuma, Zuma being the reason why most voted EFF. They need to create and broaden ties with the ANC. It will be interesting to see if they hang onto their identity or are subsumed. If i were Ramaphosa, i’d offer the EFF open arms, an action that would serve the double purpose of diluting the unsubstantiated support of the ANCYL for the Zuma camp.
TO BE ZUMA OR ANTI-ZUMA IS SILLY
The support by DA members for Ramaphosa to defeat Zuma in the ANC presidency battle was also fueled by anti-Zuma sentiment. To be Zuma or anti-Zuma as a representation of evil versus good is a simplification begging political confusion and impracticality. Willful ignorance is a convenient forgetter so there’s danger that real positions won’t solidify, perpetuating clouds of public confusion that hysterical, armchair social media often expresses.
Critics, especially opposition forces, ignore reality. They are as guilty as those they criticise because politics is fundamentally flawed. Politics is more about greed and power than it’s about public representation or service. The greatest mistake is the Public not acting as a check and balance within their own party structures, instead jumping on bandwagons of immoral leaders.
That hidden motive of leaders supported by blind followers doesn’t alter the challenges a politician needs to deal with in order to survive.
RAMAPHOSA’S LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE
Ramaphosa has claimed chieftainship of a dangerously divided and racist political party (externally and internally) that ironically represents the majority of South Africa. For him to be an effective power, he has to remain in power, that emphasised by the glaring fact that he’s the president of a party and not yet the President of South Africa – he has that bigger goal to consider.
To democratically represent the ANC, Ramaphosa has to represent its beliefs and desires, especially those he cannot change. The issue of land ownership is the biggest across all ANC factions. Ramaphosa needs unifying factors to back his survival. He cannot afford to allow his internal enemies to possess a rallying issue. Instead, he must control it, even own it.
Consequently, Ramaphosa states that he backs land takeovers without compensation. But aware of the destruction that caused on neighbouring Zimababwe, and wanting to be a businessman not a Robert Mugabe, he adds in the caveat that such repatriation will be done in a way that doesn’t harm the economy.
Ramaphosa won’t be in power forever. So what would happen if that were law under more radical leadership? That shuddering insists that landowners need to voluntarily give up more at a better price as soon as possible. They need to ensure that the law isn’t needed. Ramaphosa, who now has the leverage, could force that better deal. It’s better that all win and lose than only one side win.
NATIONALISING RESERVE BANK & ISRAELI RELATIONSHIP
Not all ANC policies become South African law. Whereas something is likely to happen regards land, the intention of the government to take over ownership of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is more debatable. Firstly, the situation isn’t as dire as bank supporters say it is. According to SARB, shareholders do not affect monetary policy or the regulatory role it plays in the economy. Secondly, SARB is one of the few privately owned reserve banks in the world. Any moral party should be worried about that because private ownership has rarely put the health of others first. The USA’s private reserve has continually created fake money so that the dollar keeps it as the world’s dominant country, backed by a military as large as the rest of the world’s combined. How can a country that is technically insolvent, in debt for $20-trillion (R250-trillion, try comprehend that figure), be the world’s strongest? How can such irresponsibility be respected. Similarly, SARB affects the life of every South African yet it refuses to allow an external audit. That may be because there’s truth to the allegations that our gold reserves have ‘vanished’.
A country must have control of its economy. But that arrives as a two-edged sword i.e. if the ANC, like the NP (who ruled during apartheid), cannot run South Africa without stealing tens (maybe hundreds) of billions, do they deserve control of billions more? The more dutiful compromise would be for the ANC to insist on external audits. If they don’t, there’s the possibility they want to plunder. The DA doesn’t get to pretend the moral high ground. For them to only oppose rather than insist on accountability, makes the DA a front for big business masquerading as a political party for South Africans.
The final major controversy was the ANC’s decision to downgrade South Africa’s embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel. A downgrade means bye-bye embassy, hello lessor liaison office. Personally, this writer believes that we should stay out of overseas conflicts until we’ve fixed our own country but since wishing won’t change what happened, South Africans should applaud the decision. Any political party that considers the decision to be negative is likely being influenced by Jewish lobbyists unconcerned with human rights. That isn’t anti-Zionist but protest against violence. The decision isn’t about who is right or wrong in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict but an objection to the USA’s encouragement of worldwide violence by recognising the contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The USA’s unnecessary action, necessary only for political grandstanding, is killing people. The United Nations voted 128 to 9 against the USA’s action. That overwhelming majority is made more significant by their resisting the USA’s blatant bullying tactics. Even USA allies (United Kingdom, France and Germany) voted against it. The ANC made a decision that puts South Africa on the right side of history.
GAME OF CARDS
To ensure transformation whilst encouraging investment is an incredibly difficult and important political game of cards. Critics who think that one can exist without the other are appallingly stupid. Apartheid happened. And the greatest population growth in South Africa is the unemployed. A sustainable South Africa and a tolerable future will require the sacrifice of obstinate positions.
Cyril Ramaphosa doesn’t get to be obstinate in our dark matrix. To survive, he must be as fluid as Neo and wiser than Yoda. He has the power to play the best hand in our game of politics. He cannot provide a utopia where everyone is happy but he can make a positive difference. Let’s hope he plays well. Let’s hope he plays for us too.
Read the accompanying piece, ‘ANC NEC Exposed‘.
Personal Note: I’m not a fan of Cyril Ramaphosa, his supporters or his opposition. They are all compromised to different degrees. I’m politically agnostic, wanting to believe in something but mistrusting everything on offer. But i refuse to choose to live in a South Africa where there’s no hope. Instead, i hope and fight for the best because that’s the only practical option on offer. We don’t live in a country that gives us the option of doing nothing whilst remaining safe. It’s important to fight for our rights with our bias dying, our minds open to possibility and with acknowledgement that our rights cannot arrive at the expense of others. We need to ignore one-sided political parties to look at the big picture. To be better South Africans, we must think for ourselves before finding similarly minded people, people we can work with.