Time for appeasement is over
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Let's make no mistake: the events of the past week are a direct result of the failures of the ANC ‒ on various levels ‒ and not of President Cyril Ramaphosa alone.
The ANC has dismally failed to handle its internal squabbles over who gets control of the patronage network, and it failed to uplift the lives of those who keep it in power, fertilising the ground for the orgy of violence witnessed.
It failed to foresee and forestall the anger that Jacob Zuma's jailing would unleash, and it failed to detect that its own intelligence services was plotting the palace downfall from within.
When the mayhem was unleashed, the ANC failed in its response: some areas were looted and burnt for three days straight, during which, in a complete failure of leadership, no ANC leader was visible.
When Ramaphosa finally deigned to raise his head, his dulcet tones and speech would have hardly scared any of the looters into desisting ‒ as events over subsequent days proved ‒ or served to reassure a terrified KZN populace.
Coupled with the distinct lack of visibility of or action from police, it was no wonder civilians took it upon themselves to protect lives and property. However, the incidents of vigilantism which resulted must equally be condemned and prosecuted.
If there is anything positive to be gleaned, it is that Ramaphosa has been presented with the opportunity to take action and build a stronger alliance against the Zuma faction.
What is in doubt is whether he has the stomach to do what is required: carry out a purge of all known Zuma loyalists from his administration, and especially from the intelligence services.
While the adage about keeping your enemies close may hold true in some instances, keeping the fox’s friends in the hen house has not worked for Ramaphosa.
With the fox behind bars, it is time to clean house.
Failure to do so means it will only be a matter of time until the next flare-up.
The time for appeasement politics is over.
The Independent on Saturday