Why Ramaphosa can’t stop the ANC’s decline, even with a win at the polls

Critics and opposition party leaders are arguing that voters vote for the ANC – not for Ramaphosa.
South Africans are pinning their hopes of economic recovery on a strong Ramaphosa-aligned ANC victory. Picture: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg

In recent months there has been conjecture that if South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa wins a suitably large majority of the upcoming national vote, he will be able to achieve two notable outcomes.

Firstly, he’ll be able reverse the governing African National Congress’s (ANC’s) slide into populism and factionalism. And he’ll be able to see off challenges from the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the country’s third largest party.

The argument is that he would then have a sufficiently strong mandate to undertake economic reforms needed to fix South Africa. This includes broadening competition, limiting the size and scope of the state-owned entities and expanding the public transport system. Other things that need fixing include reducing red tape to boost entrepreneurship and small businesses, improving the education system and trade integration in the region.

But critics and opposition party leaders hold a counter view. They argue that voters vote for the ANC – not for Ramaphosa. And that Ramaphosa only serves at the behest of the ANC’s National Executive Committee. Since the NEC is the principle executive arm of the party, this means that internal ANC factionalism is more important than the electorate.

In reality, both these arguments ignore the extent to which Ramaphosa’s post-election reformist ability will be hampered by other factors. The most important of these is the outcome of the dysfunctional ANC list process. Historically, the compilation of the list of nominations for national and provincial MPs has been fraught with claims of fraud and vote-rigging.

Another important factor is the concessions made to the ANC’s alliance partners. These are the trade union federation Cosatu, the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the South African National Civic Organisation. Based on recent pronouncements, it appears that the “radical economic transformation” ideology of the Zuma-faction has become accepted dogma among alliance members.


Since coming to power in January 2018 Ramaphosa has made notable strides in dismantling Zuma’s “mafia state”. But he is yet to gain the upper hand in the ANC’s collective policy making.

In addition to the confused statements about land expropriation without compensation, three other policy developments could prove damaging to Ramaphosa’s reformist agenda.

The first was the gazetting of changes to the Property Valuation Act of 2014 in November 2018. This seeks to change the formula that will be used to calculate the compensation payable when a property is targeted for land reform. Under the new formula, the value of a property will be determined based on its income.

Naturally, there are fears that if this new valuation formula is used irresponsibly, it could significantly affect residential property values.

The second, contained in the ANC’s recent election manifesto, is the issue of prescribed assets. The manifesto says the ANC must:

Investigate the introduction of prescribed assets on financial institutions’ funds to mobilise funds within a regulatory framework for socially productive investments (including housing, infrastructure for social and economic development and township and village economy) and job creation while considering the risk profiles of the affected entities.

This will require the country’s pension funds and asset management companies to invest a significant portion of the savings of South African citizens in state-owned entities. The problem is that many are mired in corruption and delivery failure. There are fears that this capital will be lost.

The third is the contradictory statements about the South African Reserve Bank. On the one side the Zuma-aligned ANC secretary-general, Ace Magashule, recently said that the national reserve bank will be nationalised. He said this would be in line with the resolutions at the ANC 2017 national conference. And that the aim would be to ensure the adoption of a “flexible monetary policy regime”.

Ramaphosa countered that this resolution was simply a “wish or aspiration”.

At the same time, the Communist Party claims that nationalisation of the central bank is a tenet of the National Democratic Revolution, which is the central ideology of the governing tripartite alliance. The SACP argues that it’s therefore a requirement if the alliance is to support the ANC in the upcoming election. The ANC needs the SACP’s support in the election if it wants to avoid losing votes.

The constitutionality and practicality of all these measures will undoubtedly be challenged in court. Nevertheless, they signal to investors that fixed and liquid assets in South Africa are potentially at risk of government intervention. And, as studies show, financial markets respond negatively to this perception.


Over the last two decades the goodwill extended towards South Africa after its liberation – as well as the country’s financial defences – have been exhausted. This has been because of poor governance, ill-conceived policy choices and implementation, and democratic immaturity. As with with numerous other national liberation movements in Africa, the ANC has increasingly turned to populist policies as a means to retain power.

Many South Africans are pinning their hopes of economic recovery on a strong Ramaphosa-aligned ANC victory. But the extent of his ability to pursue reforms after the poll depends largely on the outcome of processes outside of the election.

Unfortunately, indications over the last year suggest that despite his promise of a “new dawn”, a Ramaphosa-led ANC election victory is unlikely to reverse the party’s decline in popular support. This raises the prospect of heightened factional battles in the alliance.The Conversation

Sean Gossel, Associate professor, University of Cape Town

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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Well, that last paragraph says it all…

“Unfortunately, indications over the last year suggest that despite his promise of a “new dawn”, a Ramaphosa-led ANC election victory is unlikely to reverse the party’s decline in popular support. This raises the prospect of heightened factional battles in the alliance.”

Perhaps the ANC PR department should take notice of the way breakfast cereals and toothpaste are marketed: although nothing changes in the ingredients, the packaging is superficially bigger, brighter and there is a splash graphic right up front: NEW AND IMPROVED! or NOW CONTAINS SOURCES OF FIBRE! or 10% MORE NUTRITION! or BRIGHTER AND WHITER TEETH AND GUMS!

They can contact me via BOSASA for a presentation.

Terrifyingly accurate. Very gratifying to those who are about to emigrate and are wondering if they have made the right choice. Factionalism brought Zimbabwe to its knees. Why would the result be any different here pray tell?

It isn’t. It is a historical certainty that SA, as a failed state, will collapse into total anarchy. When the TENS of millions who live in abject poverty explode, things will burn …

Ja, the decision is looking better by the day.

Has anyone given thought to whom comes after Ramsie…? So if you consider emigration, this has to be part of it.

For once something that is true and accurate. We vote for the party and not the leader, more true in this instance.

But in 2009 and 2014 we specifically voted for Jacob Zuma and ANC together and hehe..majority can do that again if given the option right now.

We also have people voting where they only have 30% pass marks because the government prefers to have people less educated so they can be manipulated.

A spectator who observes African politics from a distance, who is oblivious to African political history, and unaware of the convenient popular excuse of colonialism, will come to the conclusion that Africans are terrified of agricultural land. When such a spectator observes the extent to which millions of people flee countries where newly acquired property is handed over to them by the government from which they requested it, he will conclude that Africans fear property ownership.

Everywhere in Africa, where a democratically elected government took property from the legal owners, and redistributed it among the electorate, people flee from that newly acquired property. People abandon their country of birth the moment they receive a property for free, and flee to countries where property rights are sacrosanct. They cross borders, trek across deserts, drown in the Mediterranean, face brutality from immigration agents, confront the scorn and hatred of the citizens in the country where they seek asylum, but it does not stop them. The fear and destruction they experienced on their newly acquired property, in their country of birth, is enough to drive them on.

Such a commentator will come to the conclusion that ANC supporters use their vote to get something that they are absolutely terrified of. ANC supporters waste their vote to get something they cannot use, do not want, and that will ultimately kill them. Democracy is wasted on the ANC.

100 % Sensei, but should we not extend your last statement to the whole of Africa and not just limited to the ANC!? A dismal effort at Democracy, a failure of a track record!

Everywhere in Africa, where a democratically elected government took property from the legal owners, and redistributed it among the electorate, people flee from that newly acquired property.

Agree. With the notice of a few points. Slaves, African, never possessed property. Livingstone became famous for detecting this. All was owned by kings, like home, in Europe. With the exception of religion. Making Africa the target of missionaries to pave way for kings like Leopold. Showing the world who owns, and not. Today world is inherent from a past. Having many good things, but not the democratic fools paradise.

Correction to your comment…

Fiefdoms were the scourge of Africa long before the Arab or European migrants. Fiefdoms grew rich from the sale of their people as did the buyers

South Africa has Fiefdoms as still does most of Africa

Yes, agreed. The ANC was always a very broad church with strongly opposing views and ideologies. Cyril has done his best to soften some of the stances that he knows are inconsistent with a thriving economy. But a lack of coherence means that at some point there will have to be a shake out and narrowing of views.

Good article and good point.

Unfortunatelt the voting majority in SA minic those of many other African countries (some globally as well but Zim comes to mind). I mean you have people who lost relatives in the esidimeni incident who will still vote ANC. That sort of sway over the general populace means you can have maximum corruption without batting an eye.

I mean look at half the ministers still running things, half of them are heavily implicated or incompetent guys with the same problems every single year and getting worse, yet the majority still vote ANC.

So using Zuma or Rama or any other person will work a charm to get that possibly unemployed, uneducated and under serviced majority onboard for another spell.

Ramaphosa made several promises to the people SA on how he would reduce government expenditure wastage and how those who had their fingers in the cookie jar were going to be dealt with. But, since he became president, not one person has been charged or convicted, and most of those who were accused of dipping in the till are still ate their jobs. Cyril has failed dismally, and for that reason he will battle to get new foreign investment into the country. Promises to contain expenditure also never happened.

The proportional representation method of government no longer works for the people, and we need to go back to the system where the individuals stand as candidates so that the people can decide if they want to be represented by certain folk who put themselves forward as candidates or those already tainted by accusations (some with un denying proof) as peoples representatives. Those forced on us are not elected Parliamentarians, they are appointed instead by their parties.

With honest and proper systems in place we will begin to have proper and honest government. Not before.

Our ex president oversaw all sorts of wrong doings and the results are starting to show. People are getting off the hook every single day and no one seems to be held to account. See what’s going on in Zim. The main manipulators got away everything while pointing fingers towards others. The same thing is happening here now. In twenty years we’ll be lucky if we see half the anarchy as what is going on there now.

Ramaphosa and the ANC “leadership” are in a somewhat tricky position.

Easy cash is about all I think the ANC voters care about They don’t really care about theft, corruption, incompetence etc unless it hits them in the pocket, now, not in one or two years’ time. So far, the ANC “leaders” have managed voter expectation with carefully doled out little stipends and concessions but always keeping dependence on the ANC teat with grants and bloated government employment, stifling education, small business, entrepreneurship and real equality while blaming broken promises on whites and business. Rather cadre deployment and tenderpreneuring; Gupta style.

But, like Zim and Venezuela it is the shortage of cash to sustain this profligacy that will bring the party to a nasty end. But, like Zim and Venezuela, populism is preferable to realism, so EWC, pension looting etc could be the order of the day, keeping the party going for a little longer. “Gifts” from Davos attendees may help but hey, its really a good shopping trip and a chance to make some discreet Bosasa cash deposits into Swiss bank accounts as well.

Short. Trade union leaders and their dreams. History of this world tell it was not snow white, but the famous smell of money, without exceptions. They symbolize anything, connected to human weakness, but proven otherwise. It counts for all country’s. Using freedom, yours, as first step. Activating warning signals, for rulers, today, to consider them approved. The new vassals.

The reality:
Vote EFF for a quick death
Vote ANC for a slow death
Vote DA and go nowhere slowly

Best comment ever. Well done.

So therefore we have little or no options ……. I figure The Freedom Front are a better choice ??

Yes, let all just pack up an leave because there is clearly no hope. No chance at all, zero nothing at all. Cant wait for a Magnus Heystek article to follow this one.

According to the World Bank Report of 10 April 2018, it will take 12 years, if the right policies are implemented now, for the country to get back to the inequality levels of 1996.

That means that in this respect, the majority of black people are worse off now than during apartheid.

Voting for the ANC is like Zim people voting for ZANU-PF, you vote for your own demise and hardship.

The ANC told the world pre 94 that they represent the black people of this country.

However, since April 94 the ANC has sold out its own people to Aids, crime, illegal immigration and a host of other disasters.

On Aids – for 10 years the ANC provided no leadership on Aids. Pres Mandela presided over about the highest Aids infection rate in the world and he did nothing. Thereafter Pres Mbeki provided misguided leadership.

Today 7 million people are HIV positive, including one in five adult women. 300 000 plus people were denied arv’s and died early.

People vote for this?

End of comments.




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