With Zuma gone, the DA and EFF need new lines of attack against the ANC

President Jacob Zuma provided many opportunities for opposition parties to launch campaigns against him. The spy tapes controversy, the Nkandla scandal, numerous corruption charges, the Marikana massacre, sexual violence epitomised in the #RememberKhwezi campaign, and state capture all gave the opposition abundant ammunition. With the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as the new ANC president, the Daily Vox looks at the likely narratives opposition parties will utilise in its attempts to convince voters that Ramaphosa shouldn’t be elected in the 2019 presidential elections.

Political analyst Steven Friedman told the Daily Vox that the issue opposition parties would have in launching campaigns against Ramaphosa is that they wouldn’t be able to agree on what attack him on.

“The line of attack from the [Economic Freedom Fighters] has been that Ramaphosa was responsible for Marikana, he does what white businessmen tell him what to do and he’s a loyal servant of white monopoly capital. That’s exactly what we’ll see the EFF’s line will be, but the [Democratic Alliance] can hardly say that,” said Friedman.

Ramaphosa’s connection to big business has earned him a reputation of trade-unionist-turned-capitalist. Reinforcing this narrative has been the popular opinion that Ramaphosa played a role in the killing of 34 mineworkers during the Marikana strikes. The latter charge is not solely an EFF narrative, but is prominent in public discourse.

Friedman also noted that the EFF leadership has a personal grievance against Ramaphosa because he was chair of the disciplinary committee that expelled EFF leaders from the ANC.

As for the Democratic Alliance (DA), Friedman believes the DA will have a more difficult time targeting Ramaphosa, and so will instead emphasise those working under him – in particular David Mabuza and Ace Magashule – indicate that the ANC leadership still remains “captured” and corrupt.

“I think the DA line is going to be that Ramaphosa is okay, but that he’s manipulated by two robber-barons [wealthy gangsters] and that that shows that he’s compromised. That’s essentially what Maimane was saying in the DA’s recent statement,” said Friedman.

The DA says that Ramaphosa’s appointment will not change the corrupt state of the ANC, which “is dead and cannot self-correct, no matter who is at the helm”. The DA argues that Ramaphosa was complicit in the history of corruption present in the ANC as he remained silent throughout all of it. It goes as far as saying that Ramaphosa’s election was secured through deals with shady characters such as Mabuza.

“Ramaphosa has relied on David Mabuza to secure a marginal victory, in turn electing him as Deputy President. As Premier of Mpumalanga, Mabuza has presided over a collapsing province, characterised by maladministration and corruption, while keeping people in poverty,” the statement reads.

Friedman says that Mabuza will become a consistent line of target for opposition parties, given the allegations of corruption, assassination plots, vote-rigging and a decidedly ruthless streak that has landed him the label of a political thug in some circles. Friedman was however less certain about Magashule as it seemed his position as secretary general of the ANC might be rescinded given the recent “Nasrec 68” voting controversy.

On the face of it, it does not seem that Ramaphosa’s term will attract as much controversy and scandal for opposition parties to latch on to. But hey, we live in South Africa – one of the political spice capitals of the world – so who knows what drama lies just around the corner, just waiting to cause the next Twitter storm and national protests.

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