Kanya Cekeshe
Kanya Cekeshe

Has Ramaphosa fallen into the EFF's trap?

By MOLIFI TSHABALALA Time of article published Jan 8, 2020

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We have just crossed over into 2020, the year in which author and political economist Moeletsi Mbeki has predicted an uprising in South Africa.

He and Nobantu Mbeki, an economics lecturer at Wits University, contend, in A Manifesto for Social Change, that we are where the French, the Americans and Chinese had been in 1789, 1860, and 1978 respectively when they experienced revolutions.

Given spates of poor service delivery protests across the country, student protests for free higher education (FHE), and recent attacks on foreigners of African descent to name but a few, we have indeed reached a tipping point.

More so, taking into account that former president Jacob Zuma left us (and we are still) on the brink of a failed state, with tell-tale signs such as a stagnant economy.

Yet President Cyril Ramaphosa is oblivious to the incontrovertible fact that we have reached the tipping point, judging by his series of blunders - most notably, a decision to grant FHE activist Kanya Cekeshe a special remission of sentence, which resulted in his release from prison on parole.

It is not surprising, though. Ramaphosa, whose series of blunders pose a national security threat, continues from where his predecessor left off.

Like Zuma, he wants to project himself as a revolutionary hero of some sort by outfoxing the left-wing, populist EFF, which had sought to overturn Cekeshe’s conviction and sentence for public violence and damage to public property, including setting a police vehicle alight, during #FeesMustFall protests.

The EFF is good at setting up traps for the ANC with superior thoughts.

Unthinkingly, the 108-year-old liberation movement always runs into traps and gets caught up between a rock and a hard place. It started with the historically important land question, the first of the EFF’s seven non- negotiable cardinal pillars.

At its 54th National Conference, the ANC resolved to use expropriation without compensation (EWC) among the mechanisms to address the land issue. Setting up a trap for the governing party, the EFF tabled a motion in Parliament to amend section 25 of the Constitution to allow for EWC.

Without having thrashed out land modalities, the ANC supported the motion. In doing so, it allowed the third-largest party to set and take charge of the land question.

On the Cekeshe matter, Ramaphosa has fallen into the EFF’s trap too. Cekeshe’s release from prison has set the wrong precedent, which will haunt him and his government in the very near future.

Taking into account that students at some universities continue to engage in serious acts of public violence in protests over registration, financial exclusion and accommodation, Ramaphosa would have to grant them special remission of sentences to qualify for parole once they are convicted and sentenced to prison. Their grievances fall within the realm of ostensible FHE, a third of the EFF’s non-negotiable cardinal pillars.

Students are a fertile force to instigate the uprising in the country.

Unlike the working class, they can put their ideological convictions and racial identities aside and wage a ­common struggle, as noted during the #FeesMustFall protests.

* Tshabalala is an independent political analyst.

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

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