JUSTICE MALALA: Phala Phala report: one more milestone in the ANC’s self-destruction
The problem is that before we get to the party’s final collapse we will go through pain — a lot of it
There is a lot of wringing of hands over the damning independent parliamentary panel’s report on the Phala Phala saga. The report underlines once again that there is much that is rotten in our state, for sure, and the stench is overwhelming. So, what are the report’s implications?
The truth is that this extraordinary report is just one milestone of an ongoing trend: the self-destruction of the ANC continues apace and its ultimate demise in a post-liberation South Africa is edging closer. The death of the ANC is being brought about by its unethical leaders and its greedy and immoral members. It started with the arms deal in the late 1990s; continued with the firing of Bantu Holomisa for blowing the whistle on corruption; escalated through the 2000s with Aids denialism and World Cup baksheesh; and reached its nadir with the Jacob Zuma years of snouts in troughs.
The ANC is so divided, its members so inimical to each other, that any action — President Cyril Ramaphosa resigns, the national executive committee fires him, or he subjects himself to the parliamentary impeachment process — will lead to one inevitable conclusion: the party will fracture and ultimately split.
If Ramaphosa is fired by the Zuma-ites, whose apparatchiks in the intelligence services engineered the Phala Phala crisis, that action will be followed by a slow but sure purging of his allies. First to be fired will most likely be Mondli Gungubele, essentially Ramaphosa’s prime minister, followed by a whole host of others.
Where shall they go? They will have to submit — or fight outside the ANC.
What will now happen will be the unravelling and undermining of Ramaphosa’s successes — modest as they may be — in law enforcement
They will fight, which implies that the era of ANC dominance is over. More than half of South Africa’s eligible voters no longer vote anyway, according to figures from the Electoral Commission of South Africa. A large majority of those are ANC voters who are gatvol. With this latest move, even more will find themselves looking for a new political home. The ANC’s ongoing trajectory of electoral loss is guaranteed to continue now. Ramaphosa was the ANC’s last chance saloon.
But before we get to the party’s final collapse we will go through pain. A lot of pain. After Ramaphosa there will, for several years, likely be another ANC president. We should prepare to live under a snooping security state while that leader runs the show. Why do I say that? The Zuma administration elevated the role of the intelligence agencies in statecraft. A former head of ANC intelligence in exile, Zuma rewarded intelligence operatives loyal to him, promoting the likes of Arthur Fraser to high office.
Any new incumbent to the president’s office will know now — after Ramaphosa was ensnared by spycraft — that they are likely to have kompromat of any nature used against them should they not toe the RET/Zuma line. Ramaphosa was torpedoed by a simple trap, sprung so that he could be kicked out of office. There is nothing in his looming removal that is about the rule of law. He was too enthusiastic about fixing law enforcement agencies and institutions. For the criminal enterprise that the ANC has become, he has to go — by fair means or foul.
Where does that leave us, the citizenry? South Africa will face a sustained period of policy uncertainty and instability. A Ramaphosa departure will not mean the end of the road for the political uncertainty we’ve experienced for years now. What will now happen will be the unravelling and undermining of Ramaphosa’s successes — modest as they may be — in law enforcement. The heads of the Special Investigating Unit, the Police, the Asset Forfeiture Unit, the National Prosecuting Authority, the South African Revenue Service, and so many others who value institutions above connections, will slowly be shown the door. Remember 2008 and the kneecapping of the Scorpions? We will be there after Ramaphosa’s departure.
The calls for his departure by some cabinet members — primarily Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Lindiwe Sisulu — have seen some among us say that this is a “Boris Johnson moment”. You will remember that the fall of the British prime minister in the English summer was precipitated by the rebellion and resignation of two powerful ministers (the first being the now-prime minister Rishi Sunak) who found their consciences lying on the floor somewhere and said they simply could not continue with the man they had supported for years.
In South Africa the howling of the discredited Sisulu and Dlamini Zuma against Ramaphosa does not constitute a reversal of fortune. That these two want Ramaphosa out tells you something about their characters.
Reading stories about internal ANC divisions, one would be forgiven for thinking that one was talking about sworn enemies. Yet here we are: a significant chunk of the ANC is ululating in the streets because their own “comrade” has been blackmailed into near-impeachment by another of their own comrades.
We ordinary South Africans should be the ones ululating. The ANC is dying. We just need to ensure that it does not destroy South Africa in the process.
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