President Cyril Ramaphosa engages with supporters during an ANC rally in Atteridgeville at FNB Stadium. File picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
I agree that President Cyril Ramaphosa might have done nothing illegal in soliciting around a billion rand from South African captains of industry for his ANC presidency campaign, and his spin doctors are completely missing the point when they use this line. They are also missing the point when they call for Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and leaders of other political parties to reveal their funders because those people did not win the elections and are not heads of state.

Second, it’s astonishing that in a country with more than 10 million unemployed people, rising poverty and inequality, one man can raise a billion rand to fund his political campaign. And we are not talking about any man but a deputy president at the time. The question is, why do you need a billion rand for an internal campaign? Bear in mind that Ramaphosa has portrayed and defined himself outside the ANC. He’d presented this false identity that he’s different from his predecessor, was above reproach, was ethical and was a new man here to clean up the mess created by his comrades.

We are now being sent on a wild goose chase, diverted to a legal argument about how these emails were obtained. I find this hypocritical. When the Gupta emails were leaked, that question never arose. The principle is the same. When so much money is spent on one man, the perception of being captured becomes real. Some of these companies and individuals are doing business with the state, and some were rewarded handsomely – they definitely want the status quo to remain. This will put Ramaphosa on a collision course with the working class and the majority of unemployed South Africans.

The next hurdle for Ramaphosa is to fix South Africa’s problems. That is where the challenges will start. He’s supported by people with vastly competing interests – the capitalists who funded him, unions, the SA Communist Party and many poor people who’ve been sold a lie that Ramaphosa will magically make their problems disappear. It’s impossible for Ramaphosa to please all these groups, and from the donor list, it’s more likely that he will try to please them at the displeasure of others. People will become impatient and he will be accused of being in cahoots with big business, a label he is carrying as a BEE beneficiary from many of these people.

I’ve just read a letter from Johnny Copelyn, the CEO of HCI, a company that owns eNCA, Golden Arrow Bus Service, Tsogo Sun and many others. He is part of the naive bunch that thinks the ANC can self-correct under Ramaphosa, who has been part of the rot. He couldn’t be more wrong. He and his friends have committed a grave mistake by donating millions of rand to Ramaphosa’s campaign, and have set Ramaphosa up for failure for what they did. They have sowed distrust between him and his largely poor constituencies that always viewed him with suspicion. They have once and for all confirmed that he’s there to protect the interest of those who want the status quo to remain.

There’s no track record we can rely on to conclude that Ramaphosa will do any better than Zuma. He’s been part of the problem and never lifted a finger to stop the rot. He’s a populist who speaks with a forked tongue depending on which audience he’s addressing. Copelyn blames populists for punting the land expropriation without compensation and nationalisation of Reserve Bank narratives, yet this has been Ramaphosa’s campaign that resulted from the resolutions of the 2017 Nasrec conference that elected him. When he fails to implement these resolutions, as I’m sure he will, he will be hounded out faster than Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma and we’ll be in a worse situation.

Here’s the reality: Ramaphosa has to please various interest groups in order to fix South Africa. That means he’ll be communicating mixed messages in trying to appeal to all of them, which is impossible. We have already seen that over the past 18 months since he became president. Ramaphosa is a compromised man in more ways than one. I have no faith in Ramaphosa and the ANC to fix South Africa’s problems. They have failed to do so in 25 years. You can only judge a man by his track record, not by what he promises to do. Anyone who still believes solutions to our problems will be found in the ANC and its alliance partners is delusional.

* Bonginkosi Madikizela is leader of the Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape  and provincial Minister of Transport and Public Works.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.