The ANC needs more Ramaphosa types – ethical folk, young professionals, more 'non-thieves' such as Mmusi Maimane, the writer says. Picture: THE TIMES/ALON SKUY
The ANC needs more Ramaphosa types – ethical folk, young professionals, more 'non-thieves' such as Mmusi Maimane, the writer says. Picture: THE TIMES/ALON SKUY

You really have to feel for Mmusi Maimane. If our political culture were different he would be working in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet, serving at the president’s pleasure, instead of contemplating starting a new political party. He represents many of the policies, values and ethics that the ANC leader talks about in his speeches and interactions.

Unlike the shameless Lindiwe Sisulu who luxuriates in Ramaphosa’s cabinet, Maimane would at least have been embarrassed to appoint an absolute incompetent and ignoramus such as the disgraced Bathabile Dlamini to a billion-rand budget job. Sisulu has finally unmasked herself — she is all about power. She wants the top job and will use the detritus of the Zuma ANC to get that position. She has no principles.

Maimane is young, passionate, articulate and has developed a keen understanding and sense of SA’s history and what it demands of our democracy.

Unlike the DA of Helen Zille, Maimane understands that anyone who has any chance of running a prosperous SA must be aware that the process of undoing 46 years of apartheid must be deliberate and proactive. No matter how amazing a rising economic tide we may one day experience in SA, it will not lift all of us up. This is the Zille-led DA’s blind spot.

Maimane’s journey within the DA over the past five years has led to him now being, ideologically and historically, more ANC than many in Ramaphosa’s cabinet.

After his departure from the DA, Maimane and a few of his supporters are now talking about forming a new political party. Last week he told eNCA that “we need a new coalition, a new vehicle and something that would come back to the people”.

Maimane can try to form a party. But he must ask himself: what’s the difference between me and Mvume Dandala or Sam Shilowa?

Don’t do it, Mmusi Maimane. A new party will fail. It will fail just as COPE, Agang, the UDM and many other similar new formations slightly to the right of the ANC have failed. Despite many of our criticisms of the likes of Mamphela Ramphele of Agang and Mosiuoa Lekota of COPE, it is not solely the fault of these leaders.

The ANC straddles a wide spectrum of the centre of our politics like a behemoth. To its left lie the pseudo-leftists of the EFF and the trade union Cosatu; to right the DA, FF+, IFP and the ACDP.

The EFF has hoovered up whatever support the former PAC and Azapo may have had. It has devoured the “Africanist” and nationalist wings of the ANC, but not with as much vigour or success as its Twitter rantings may lead you to believe.

The new formation that Maimane and his supporters envisage has to play in this crowded field and, crucially, where the ANC is strongest — within the black middle class.

The DA’s verkrampte parts have moved to the far right, embracing the FF+. Parts of the liberal DA have already moved to the ANC of “our Cyril”. There is nothing here for Maimane. His audience is within the ANC. The Left, where Julius Malema and his fellow VBS Mutual Bank beneficiaries play, was never his home.

Maimane can try to form a party. But he must ask himself: what’s the difference between me and Mvume Dandala or Sam Shilowa? The COPE of 2009 is a replica of the Maimane who left the DA last month. Worse for him, there is no Jacob Zuma around whom to vilify and organise.

Maimane’s chances are thus limited. In the ANC, Ramaphosa is shackled by the Zuma fightback. In an alternative universe the most prudent and profitable move would be for a Maimane to join the ANC’s Ramaphosa wing and increase the call for delivery, clean governance and accountability within that party.

You see, the ANC needs to be done a favour. As the Lindiwe Sisulu-Bathabile Dlamini marriage illustrates, it is now two parties: the Ramaphosa ANC and the Zuma ANC. Both sides are feeding at the trough, so neither will leave the party, in both senses of the word. They are filling their pockets. We need more Ramaphosa types in the ANC — ethical folk, young professionals, more “non-thieves” such as Mmusi Maimane and others. The ANC must split. The Zuma ANC must form its own party or join in with the EFF. A centrist ANC, which is really what Maimane wants to see, will then get on with the job of fixing the country.

Sadly, Ramaphosa won’t invite Maimane into the tent. Maimane will launch a new party, and it will be small and sad and will wither away — just like the DA under Zille and whoever its new “leader” will be.

This article was first published by Times Select.