ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. Picture: ALON SKUY
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. Picture: ALON SKUY

ANC factions are waging war in public. The economy retracted sharply in the first quarter. Populists in the ruling party are flirting with radical economic concepts such as quantitative easing and are determined to undermine the status of the Reserve Bank. It seems there is an increase in violent crime and farm attacks. The rand is close to R15 for a dollar. Eskom, Transnet and SAA are close to collapse.

South Africans' concerns that the country is caught in an unavoidable downward spiral cannot simply be dismissed as paranoia. For many, it feels as if SA is no more than a crisis or two away from the start of total collapse.

PODCAST: Sunday Times Politics Weekly - “The President owes us an explanation”

For more episodes, click here.

Subscribe: | Spotify | Apple Podcast | Pocket Casts |

The broad expectation that a good performance by the ANC in the May elections would lead to a renewal of Ramaphoria, because the president received his mandate for renewal and economic growth, has been trampled into the mud of faction politics, writes Max du Preez in the latest edition of online Afrikaans weekly Vrye Weekblad.

The source of much of the drama is ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. He does not want to allow President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet to rule the country; he wants Luthuli House — with Magashule in the lead — to do the job. His open defiance of his party and the country's president is a first in the history of the country and the ANC. 

Magashule uses the same trick that Jacob Zuma employed when he came under severe pressure during the last few years of his term in office: play the populist card, with white monopoly capital and its neoliberal supporters in the ANC as the national enemy.

This week, Magashule spooked the markets and made the rand stumble with his televised declaration that the ANC had decided to broaden the mandate of the Reserve Bank and told the government to implement quantitative easing. (He referred to it as "quantity easing", which makes one suspect he does not understand the concept — except that it sort of means that when the state's money dries up, he can simply print more.)

Read the full report in Vrye Weekblad (only R25 per edition or R20 per edition for pensioners):