The “New Dawn” Might Work For The ANC, But Not For South Africans

Cyril Ramaphosa; Mcebisi Jonas, and Pravin Gordan in 2016.


At his inauguration as the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa pleaded with Zimbabweans to rally behind his presidency and make sure that they campaign for unity of Zimbabweans. This is after the lengthy, difficult rule of his predecessor Robert Mugabe, who was forced to resign after the Zimbabwean army took to the streets and occupied the capital Harare. Mnangwagwa was seen as a hero, a man of renewal and living up to the expectations he sought to clean his revolutionary party ZANU-PF by purging all those who were enables of the Zimbabwean problems and created a “government of the people”. The pressure of ordinary Zimbabweans and that of ZANU-PF made him to act with excitement on many issues that have seen the country becoming worse than it was under Robert Mugabe, writes SBONELO RADEBE.

The South African case of Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascendance to the ivory towers is similar to the Zimbabwean situation. ANC history repeated itself, in 2008 former president Thabo Mbeki resigned over pressure mounting inside the ANC, he was blamed for many things including neoliberal policies that slowed development and redistribution of resources. His successor Jacob Zuma has faced various trials inside and outside the ANC, his removal became serious after his faction that supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma lost the ANC presidency race in 2017. The ANC then forced him to resign as the state president, like Robert Mugabe he resisted until the ANC caucus in parliament threatened to vote him out. Ramaphosa became the President and reshuffled the Cabinet redeploying the same so-called rotten potatoes.

The South African situation of ANC leaders ascending to occupy the highest office in the land is similar to the case of Zimbabwe. Whether the situation will get any better that is the question which must occupy South Africans, who is set to benefit from the “New Dawn”?

What is evident is that the NASREC hangover is far from being over, Professor Steven Friedman alludes to this fact that both factions are intact and are oiled to fight for their survival. This is no longer about the broad church that the ANC used to be. Since the factions are intact a pivotal question must be pondered on whether South Africa is to benefit from this new dawn at all.

One thing for sure is that Cyril Ramaphosa is pro-capital, pro-business and free and open markets and favours neoliberal policies. This means just like most people have speculated, many institutions of the state are going to be handed freely to private hands. (We now know that load-shedding was man made to further privatisation.) (Allegedly. – ed) This kind of leader the ANC has is surely anti the resolutions of the 54th National Conference; expropriation without compensation- we are still yet to see how this will happen and Cyril seems undecided on the question of land. Cyril Ramaphosa has been accused of purging black administrators and trusting white liberals who have questionable credentials. He has the backing of the so-called “cabal” in the ANC, he has not to-date expressed himself on Pravin Gordan’s disrespect of the Public Protector. Trevor Manuel is back – a husband of a person who admitted to having manipulated the rand for political ends. Unsurprising President Mbeki who have a long-standing quarrel with President Zuma is also backing President Ramaphosa.

The report to 54th conference former SG Gwede Mantashe pointed out that “The 53rd National Conference characterised our current phase as the second phase of the transition of the National Democratic Revolution towards the National Democratic Society. This phase should be characterised by radical socio-economic transformation. In this regard, Conference recognised how the ANC brought about change in the lives of the people and the country broadly. It, however, concluded that such change is yet to transform wholly, and provide economic power to the majority. Unemployment, poverty and inequality must be obliterated”. I believe this is fundamentally the ticket to mounting calls for Cyril Ramaphosa’s removal, that he is not fit for the second phase of the revolution because he is a darling of private capital.

What is clear now is that the removal of President Zuma was less about corruption, it was more about private capital complaining because of restricted access, the bowl of patronage and looting through formalised deals had now shifted at the dinner table to an Indian family. Cyril Ramaphosa is no saint equally but surely enjoys the support of the likes of Theresa May, De Klek and the likes. He has benefited himself on questionable deals including his son.

Evidently the preoccupation of the ANC is its factional battles and the more the ANC is divided the more South Africa will stand divided and service delivery will be myth. Consequently, political killings will worsen as the party has declined its support which means the competition will be too high for looters. Can we start to call the New Dawn a new fallacy?  

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policies of The Daily Vox.

Sbonelo “Star” Radebe is a political science Master’s student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and also an intern at the Mzala Nxumalo Centre for the Study of South African Society.

Featured image by By Siyasanga Mbambani (GCIS)