Registered users can save articles to their personal articles list. Login here or sign up here

South Africa must resist another captured president

This time by the markets.

The African National Congress (ANC) has made a dangerous habit of bringing post-apartheid South Africa to the brink of instability and the common ruin of all. The resignation of former President Jacob Zuma and his replacement by Cyril Ramaphosa was such a moment. It brought home the point that the over-concentration of power in the office of the president has clearly not worked.

A rethink on president-centred politics and the threats it poses to the democracy are crucial for the post-Zuma period. South Africa needs to re-imagine democratic practice, leadership and how power works.

Some sections of South African society have reduced the Zuma problem to a corruption problem. Dismantle Zuma’s kleptocratic network, the argument goes, and all is solved. Zuma’s demise and a few high profile prosecutions will suffice.

But another view on the Zuma problem suggests it is a problem of contending class projects inside the ANC. The neoliberal class project under Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki saw South Africa integrated into global markets. It maintained stability through modest redistributive reforms. This project laid the basis for a new black middle class to emerge while systematically weakening labour and the left.

But it surrendered the state (including the presidency) to transnational capital and the power of finance.

The Zuma project, on the other hand, advanced looting as the basis of accumulation and class formation. The extra-constitutional state that emerged deepened the macroeconomic, institutional and legitimacy crisis of the ANC-led state. The left and labour, aligned with the ANC in the tripartite alliance, were co-opted and divided. Both these projects are entrenched in the ANC.

Now what? Messiah-centred presidential politics is dangerous. This is particularly true in a country of extreme inequality and with a formal concentration of power in the office of the president. If politics is not represented, thought and acted beyond this, South Africa is going to repeat historical mistakes.

Since the ANC’s December 2017 conference the media, the banks and international institutions have been talking up a narrative of the “Cyril effect”. Zuma’s removal is attributed to this. In fact the Cyril effect is a narrative of capture of South Africa’s new president by transnational and financial capital.

South Africa’s democracy cannot afford another captured president beholden to credit rating agencies, currency fluctuations, investment flows and business perceptions. South Africa’s democracy has to be grounded in the needs of its citizens and the mandates given by its Constitution.

The Cyril effect is ‘hyperbole’

The end of Zuma was in fact not because of the Cyril effect. In the main Zuma was removed by the people’s effect, which connected the dots of corruption, a mismanaged state and rapacious capitalism.

This resistance was expressed over 15 years through various institutions and social forces. These included:

The ANC’s legitimacy crisis

As a result of all this activity the crisis of legitimacy in the ANC – and the ANC state – has deepened. This has placed immense pressure on the party to act. In this context, Ramaphosa is playing out his role out of necessity and to secure the ANC’s electoral fortunes.

For middle class and rich South Africans Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation speech represented a return to normalcy – a democracy that works for a few. That’s not to say that the new president didn’t make some important announcements in his state of the nation address. This included his comments about state- owned enterprises, redistributive state programmes and anti-corruption mechanisms.

Nevertheless, the speech struck chords that resonated with the “return to normalcy” narrative.

But South Africans can’t repeat the mistake made in 1994 when progressive civil society demobilised. The people’s effect has to continue to shape a post-Zuma democracy in the interests of all. The ANC has abused majority support and cannot be trusted with the future of South Africa.

The ConversationPeople’s power has to be strengthened and continuously mobilised around strengthening democratic institutions, ending corruption, fundamental economic transformation and advancing systemic alternatives to the climate crisis.

Vishwas Satgar is associate professor, Department of International Relations, at the University of the Witwatersrand.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Get access to Moneyweb's financial intelligence and support quality journalism for only
R63/month or R630/year.
Sign up here, cancel at any time.


To comment, you must be registered and logged in.


Don't have an account?
Sign up for FREE

Many truths in the article but many naive misconceptions.

What worries me is that we now have superlative expectations of CR yet most of the state machine is still the same : filled with inexperienced and overpromoted underskilled managers. We need to restructure technical departments (service delivery) from municipal to national level with technocrats not policy mouthpieces.

If the state capital spend on service delivery worked properly it would itself create a million jobs

As Johan Buys writes “Many truths in the article but many naive misconceptions”

As the former Deputy-Zuma begins his term as ANC and SA president, the BIG question — lost in the euphoria — is which role does he put first? So far, not so good.

• He has not apologised for, or even explained, his silence during the Saxonwold Shebeen years. As deputy president he could have put a stop to Corruptheid or spoken out, a la Feinstein or Khoza.
• Nor has he apologised for his party’s use of false facts and manipulative memes like “WMC”. As a campaign liar himself, he is hardly likely to.
• Being released from the “Zuptas” to be captured by the Motsepe-Redebe-Ramaphosa family is hardly a radical change.
•  His ANC in the W Cape first claimed the DA mayor was no good then, when the DA agreed, spitefully kept her in office to score political points and political ground.
While the ANC was keen to dump Zuma they have not specified whether they (suddenly) found too corrupt or were concerned that he has become an electoral liability.
• Instead of distancing himself from his corrupt predecessor, Buffalo Bullsh’r toasts him.
Does his reign portend a change in direction or a change in delivery. His SONA was pure ANC race cardism
Skilled negotiator as he is, he conflated correlation with cause, quoting statistics about race employment but not the causal race matric results (and drop-out rate).
• The real original sin behind mostly black poverty in SA – after a generation of ANC misrule — is not, as he fibbed, land disposition but the ANC’s educational genocide. Beginning with its “liberation before education” during the Struggle, when lumpen kids were encouraged to “burn don’t learn” (while ensuring that their own kids received the best of educations) – destroying a strong culture of learning and producing the abysmal crop of today’s SADTU incompetents. This was compounded by the SADTU’s key role in rigging elections, hence the ANC’s cowering before their rapes and dystopic schooling.
• He has echoed the EFF and BLF land mantra. If SA is semi-serious about competing in the global fourth industrial revolution economy, where land is increasingly irrelevant; we need leaders who lead, instead of populist pandering to exhort youngsters to apply themselves to education, especially “STEM” subjects.
• He has ignored the greater sin of the vast amounts of land (much of it potentially the best agricultural land in the country) held by the state and by colonial-reprised “chiefs”.

SA is not for sissies and one needs to be an optimist to live here, but pushing that into fullblown denial is insanity. Like Apartheid, Corruptheid cannot be reformed but needs to be eliminated.

So far, Concomitant ActionMan looks more like Putin than Gobachove or de Klerk, but we live in hope.

For the people to resist another ‘captured president’ then the people must consider not voting ANC, as it was incredible how resiliently the ANC rank and file just voted and re-voted for Zuma knowing the state of corruption and capture.

This was a change sure, people lost their control of uneducated elected leaders..

But do no so be naive, the only reason old CR was punted to be a hero in this drama, was because he answers the calls from some select “citizens” of SA.. any president that do not answers their phone calls will be branded an idiot and despot..

CR ‘magic’ was created by the SA media, swallowed whole by most. an illusion. Old capitalist are so happy to have more insight in the power house of SA..

Old CR did out wit old Roelf Meyer in ’94, however I doubt he has the ability to out his new masters.

Satgar still does not get it – the better capitalism and business do, the more taxes they pay, which the politicians, selected by the majority of poor people, must distribute fairly.

Load All 5 Comments
End of comments.


Insider GOLD
ONLY R63pm

Moneyweb's premium subscription is a membership service which will give you access to a number of tools to take charge of your investments.
Or choose a yearly subscription at R630pa - SAVE R126

Get instant access to all our tools and content. Monthly subscription can be suspended at any time.



Follow us:

Search Articles:Advanced Search
Click a Company: