This newsletter is the third in a four-part series that seeks to debunk the well-meaning but dangerous idea that Ramaphosa is the “knight in shining armour” come to save SA.
In the first newsletter, I debunked the idea that Ramaphosa needs a “bigger mandate” from the public. In the second, I poked holes in the notion that a strong ANC will protect us from the EFF. In this third newsletter I seek to explain why confidence in Ramaphosa is based on hope rather than evidence, and that “Ramarealism” will serve us better than “Ramaphoria”. In the fourth, I will set out why the DA is the party to vote for in 2019.
After 25 years of ANC hegemony, South Africa finds itself on a distinctly negative trajectory. Every single metric of social wellbeing is moving in the wrong direction: unemployment, poverty and inequality are going up, as are crime rates, the cost of living, and the chances of load-shedding. Desperate for hope, many people are looking to a single individual, Cyril Ramaphosa, to fix South Africa.
Ultimately, job-creating economic growth is the only show in town. Nothing else will solve South Africa’s problems. Yet it is extremely unlikely that Ramaphosa will get our economy growing and creating jobs.
Why? Because Ramaphosa is fundamentally an ANC man.
Firstly, he is committed to the ANC’s failed ideology of state-led development. This is evident in his determination to keep pouring billions of taxpayer rands into the bottomless pit that is SAA.
And it is evident in the legislation going through Parliament under Ramaphosa’s watch: expropriation without compensation, the one-size-fits-all national minimum wage, the Competition Amendment Bill, the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill, the National Health Insurance Bill.
This legislation does not solve the core problems at the heart of all service delivery failure in South Africa, it makes them worse.
Secondly, Ramaphosa is deeply embedded in and committed to the ANC’s cosy relationship with big labour and big business that underpins our insider/outsider economy – in which those with jobs are protected and the 9.8 million without jobs stand very little chance of finding one. He fully endorses the ANC system that enriches a connected elite at the expense of the excluded poor. Indeed, his estimated net worth of R6.4 billion – including 31 properties – depended on it.
Thus the most decisive outcome of his jobs summit was the moratorium on public sector retrenchments.
Unions are the ANC’s core support base, so the deep reforms required for the economy to grow – privatising SOEs, cutting the public wage bill, liberalising labour legislation, fixing basic education – will remain strictly off limits and investors will continue to go elsewhere.
“But at least we’ll have stability” is the standard Ramaphorian reply to this argument. Really? Our disillusioned young army of 9.8 million jobless will soon grow to 10 million and more. Stability is not going to be a word in our lexicon until we break free from the ANC’s insider/outsider paradigm that sustains this abnormally high unemployment rate.
The DA has a plan to do just that. It centres on freeing our economy and leveling the playing field for new entrants, be they entrepreneurs, young people, or the unemployed. We will grow small business opportunities by removing blockage and red-tape, including exempting them from restrictive labour legislation.
We will do what Ramaphosa cannot and will not: privatise SOE’s, cut the public sector wage bill and appoint on merit. This will free up resources to invest in the infrastructure required to enable economic growth and it will create the conditions for a far more inclusive economy.
Ramaphosa knows these are the reforms to fix South Africa. But he will never go that route because his focus is on fixing the ANC. The big Ramaphoria hope is that he will do this by tackling the corruption that infects the ANC and its governments. Yet the evidence is that even in this endeavor, he will fail.
Despite much lip service, there has still not been a single arrest of any person involved in the capture and looting of Eskom and Transnet, or their handlers inside the ANC. The NPA are letting the Guptas get away with the Estina Dairy scandal. And Ramaphosa is still making the public pay for Zuma’s defence costs, despite it being within his power to cancel this irrational deal now.
Ramaphosa’s track record in fighting corruption is abysmal. He was not only Deputy President and Head of Government Business from 2014-2017, but also headed the ANC’s deployment committee during the worst years of state capture, from 2012 to 2017.
He oversaw the appointments of Brian Molefe, Matshela Koko and Ben Ngubane to steer Eskom, amongst others. So either he played a key role in state capture, or else he is extraordinarily incompetent. Neither fits in with the “corruption-buster” theory. (And his excuse that he “didn’t know how bad it was” makes him either dishonest or incompetent.) But optimists argue he was just biding his time and playing the “long game”.
Then there is the matter of a R500 000 payment by Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson into a fund for Ramaphosa’s election campaign, and the fishy business relationship between Bosasa and Ramaphosa’s son, Andile.
The evidence tells us that this election is not about how best to save the ANC. It is about how best to save South Africa from the ANC. That’s why voters should resist the lure of Ramaphoria, and support the only party building one South Africa for all – the DA.