Appearing before the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa called my analysis that the ANC sought to exert direct control over its MPs “fanciful” and a “supposition”. What he subsequently said confirms much of what is wrong with ANC thinking. But, paradoxically, it also shows what remains hopeful with him as head of the party.

In the hearing, with Ramaphosa testifying in his capacity as ANC president, evidence leader advocate Alec Freund quoted from my 2014 book Working Democracy — Perspectives on South Africa’s Parliament at 20 Years (https://www.pa.org.za/media_root/file_archive/Working_Democracy.pdf). Freund asked Ramaphosa to comment on my assertion that the ANC had formed a political committee in the early 2000s to control the party’s parliamentarians more directly...

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