Douglas Gibson of the DA during the political parties representatives who gathered to sign the electoral code in this file photo. Picture: Tyrone Arthur
Douglas Gibson of the DA during the political parties representatives who gathered to sign the electoral code in this file photo. Picture: Tyrone Arthur

Some people argue, illogically, that opposition voters should "vote for Cyril to strengthen his hand". It’s an astounding view. First, one cannot vote for Cyril Ramaphosa. He is elected by parliament, not by the people.

Second, if one votes for the ANC, it follows that more ANC MPs will be elected, without any guarantee that they belong to Ramaphosa’s faction. And he is not in a position to ensure that his own faction’s supporters are even nominated, let alone elected, while keeping his opponents out.

More ANC MPs might even mean more of Ramaphosa’s enemies in the caucus — not fewer. And don’t forget, the ANC’s secretary-general is Ace Magashule, notorious for his links to the Estina dairy project. His deputy is Jessie Duarte: a supporter of former president Jacob Zuma and mother-in-law of one of the Gupta-appointed "advisers" to the weekend special, Des van Rooyen.

Third, it has become clear that the ANC has lost its soul to venality and corruption. Not every ANC representative is corrupt, but an amazing number of ministers, MPs and other deployees are. It boggles the mind to consider rewarding the ANC for its record over the past 25 years by electing more ANC MPs, hoping the president will change all that.

Remember, Ramaphosa remained quiet during his years as Zuma’s deputy, right from Mangaung until shortly before the end of Zuma. All the looting and state capture went on under his nose: either he didn’t notice, or he chose to keep quiet about it. Some suggest he was playing a "long game" aimed at succeeding Zuma. Others believe he was prepared to place his own future interests above those of his country.

Then, to win the election to lead the ANC, Ramaphosa was prepared to do a deal with David Mabuza, now deputy president. Mabuza is remembered for his appalling record as premier of Mpumalanga and is not regarded highly in ethical circles.

He is not in a position to ensure that his own faction’s supporters are nominated, let alone elected

Every one of our presidents after Nelson Mandela has been a deputy president at one stage. A few years after president Thabo Mbeki scored the biggest election victory in ANC history, he was "recalled". Zuma was also recalled. If the ANC has a big enough majority it could dump Ramaphosa and install Mabuza as president. And Mabuza might woo the Zuma faction again.

The way to avoid that is to ensure that if the ANC does win a majority, it is a small one. The ANC will then not have the gall to recall Ramaphosa, knowing that this could have serious electoral consequences. Fear of the electorate would keep it in check.

Going the coalition route

An interesting alternative would be to deny the ANC a governing majority, leaving Ramaphosa with a choice of coalition partners: the DA or the EFF. Many assume he would choose the EFF. I don’t believe it. I don’t think he’d put Julius Malema in his cabinet in return for EFF support, and move government policy in a racist, anticonstitutional direction.

If he chose a coalition with the DA, it would open the floodgates to growth, job opportunities, educational advancement and business confidence. Such a grand coalition is not unthinkable: it would need a carefully detailed agreement setting out the priorities and policies of the government to be formed.

What SA needs in the longer term is a political realignment in which the socialists, communists and those who believe in the failed economic policies of the early 20th century would hive off, leaving the rump of the ANC and most of the DA to join hands in a new governing party that could shake off the joblessness, corruption and mediocrity of the past 15 years.

But what is clear is that giving the ANC an increased majority now would be an unmerited and illogical reward for its record.

Gibson is the former DA chief whip and former ambassador to Thailand