By Tom Head
SOUTH Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa’s authority has come in for some serious questioning since the beginning of Level 4 restrictions. Political gossip over the past few weeks has been rife, with some media in South Africa claiming that either Cyril Ramaphosa or the ANC itself will be removed from power.
Critics are upset with the amount of power held by the National Command Centre – a group effectively given the authority to establish lockdown laws and how they are governed.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma leads the NCC, and as the person who went head to head with Cyril to replace Jacob Zuma, the struggle for power has seemingly continued.
The noises coming from inside the ANC camp suggest that all is not well behind closed doors, and the blood has been bad for months.
It’s a perfect storm of conspiracy, rumour, and political intrigue. The murmurs of discontent are being heard through cracks in the wall. Never mind keeping the country together during the global health crisis, the ANC – and its leadership – are having all on with keeping themselves in-line.
CLAIM #1: THE PLOT TO UNSEAT RAMAPHOSA
At the heart of this issue is Cyril Ramaphosa and the true extent of the power he holds as head of state. He may have won Nasrec in 2017, but his victory was fraught with compromise.
The so-called ‘Zuma faction’ of the party – which saw RET evangelist Ace Magashule nab the all-important Secretary-General role – occupy key positions within the ANC Top 6.
Since taking charge of the country in February 2018, Ramaphosa has been accused of failing to act on his policy promises. He prioritised job creation, but the unemployment rate worsened. He vowed to kickstart the economy, and we eventually ended up in a recession. But to what extent can these failures be attributed to others?
The whispers from inside the National Executive Committee suggest that the president has been left frustrated by a lack of cooperation from senior colleagues – and, according to one former party MP, the eventual goal is to push Cyril into an early resignation or boot him out of the door completely.
Vytjie Mentor has previously shared evidence with the State Capture Inquiry and posted this to social media on Saturday. This wouldn’t be the first time Ramaphosa has been the alleged target on an inside coup, either.
“Don’t say I didn’t tell you. They are busy unseating Ramaphosa, holding virtual meetings to escalate his stepping down. We must pray for Ramaphosa and South Africa, hard and fast.”Vytjie Mentor
CLAIM #2: COLLAPSE THE ANC
We’re talking ‘big picture’ in the extreme sense here. Select media reports have claimed that President Ramaphosa is trying to consolidate power by completely destroying the ANC – rendering his opponents toothless. Tshwane’s EFF leader shared his views on the matter earlier this week:
These claims resurfaced in the past week, after initially being made in December. Sunday Independent reported that stakeholders including the Oppenheimers and Ruperts want to ‘elevate’ Ramaphosa above the ANC, so that if the party lost support, he could emerge as the undisputed leader of a centre-right coalition of opposition parties.
The agreement would, apparently, exclude the EFF.
CLAIM #3: SHUFFLE THE CABINET
Even at a time like this, the potential of a Cabinet reshuffle is not completely off the table. In a week which has seen Tito Mboweni consider his position as finance minister live on Twitter, the agitators weren’t far behind in suggesting the party stalwart should be dismissed anyway.
Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina said:
We’ve already seen Ramaphosa make an enforced change during lockdown. When Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams got herself suspended for breaching Level 5 regulations, Jackson Mthembu was asked to step in as communications minister on a temporary basis.
She wasn’t the only Cabinet member to misbehave over the past six weeks or so. Bheki Cele and Fikile Mbalula have also had legal cases to answer to since the end of March.
Should Ramaphosa feel he is losing control of a runaway faction in his party, a rumoured reshuffle could be the last power move left in his armoury.