ANC’s Achilles’ heel: Marikana, Phala Phala matters set to haunt Ramaphosa

Dr Allan Boesak’s remarks shed light on how the opposition DA’s influence could significantly impact the political landscape and potentially jeopardise the president’s standing. Graphic: Supplied

Dr Allan Boesak’s remarks shed light on how the opposition DA’s influence could significantly impact the political landscape and potentially jeopardise the president’s standing. Graphic: Supplied

Published Jun 8, 2024


IN the wake of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a government of national unity, the vulnerability of the president has been underscored by the leverage wielded by the Democratic Alliance (DA), according to Dr Allan Boesak, a former politician and anti-apartheid struggle veteran.

His remarks shed light on how the opposition party’s influence could significantly impact the political landscape and potentially jeopardise the president’s standing.

Speaking on the matter, Boesak emphasised the significance of upholding foundational values and principles, rather than focusing solely on individual personalities.

“I would rather say let us put the principles and the values in front. If the president does not, in his character, in his track record and his intentions, correspond with those values and those publicly-proclaimed fundamentals that we now see, it’s not the person that’s non-negotiable. It’s the principle that’s non-negotiable,” he said.

The assertion implies that Ramaphosa’s adherence to these values could be a point of contention, potentially making him susceptible to pressure from political adversaries.

Of particular concern is the unresolved Marikana massacre, where 34 miners lost their lives in a tragic incident. Allegations regarding the president’s involvement, including purportedly instructing authorities to treat the miners as criminals, continue to cast a shadow over his leadership. The lack of closure on this matter raises questions about accountability and justice.

“I would think that if anybody has leverage over somebody else, it seems to me to be the DA that has a lot of leverage over the ANC president. And because they have that leverage over the ANC president, which is now our country’s president, the Marikana matter comes to mind, which is not solved at all, and which nobody seems to want to talk about.

“I worry about Marikana. I worry about the 34 black miners killed in a few minutes. I worry about emails sent by the president giving instructions to treat them as if they were just criminals that deserve nothing else. I would worry about things like that. And I would say I need to hear a different accounting of that situation,” he said.

Furthermore, the DA’s scrutiny extends to the Phala Phala scandal, which allegedly involved transactions in US dollars and prompted inquiries by both local and international authorities. The opposition party’s efforts to seek answers through correspondence with institutions such as the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) demonstrate a concerted push for accountability from Ramaphosa.

“We know from the mouth of the DA itself that they had written to the FBI to investigate the Phala Phala matter because this was a thing that was done in US dollars. And so did it contravene any law in the United States? Did it contravene any law in South Africa? And so they followed up the letter to the FBI, which they have declared openly,” he said.

Despite assurances of compliance from certain quarters, doubts persist regarding the transparency and integrity of the president’s actions. Concerns have been raised about the flow of money into the country and the circumstances under which discrepancies came to light. Such uncertainties fuel speculation and erode public trust in the president and the ruling party’s ability to govern effectively.

“SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter did say that there was a declaration from Ramaphosa and that he is compliant. I don’t know how money can be smuggled into the country, allegedly hidden away, stolen… And only when it was stolen this came to light. How could that be compliance? But maybe that’s a definition I don’t understand. I’m just a pastor, how do I know these things?” Boesak said.

The leverage held by the DA over the president, as highlighted by Boesak, underscores the precarious position faced by the country’s leader. The threat of political repercussions, including motions of no confidence, looms large, potentially destabilising the administration and impeding progress on critical issues.

“So those are the issues that can be raised any time. And if I had that kind of leverage, like the DA would have, I would say to the president, unless you do what I say, we will raise these issues. Unless you do what I say, I will not block a vote in Parliament of no confidence against you when these matters arise again.

“And so it seems to me that whichever way we turn the lens, it seems to focus every single time on Ramaphosa. And because from every point of view – from a legal point of view, from a political liability point of view, from an ethical, moral point of view – he seems to me to be a too easy target, a person with a sword of Damocles hanging over his head.

“And if the DA has that thought, it doesn’t matter in what position the DA is in, it can certainly use that. But that’s how the political reality works,” he said.

As the political landscape evolves, the spotlight remains firmly on Ramaphosa, whose every action and decision are scrutinised against a backdrop of unresolved controversies. The delicate balance of power and the influence wielded by opposition forces serve as a constant reminder of the challenges facing the nation’s leadership.

“Now, I don’t know what they may be discussing among each other, I don’t know what promises they may be making to each other. All I know is if you have a person as the president of the country with that cloud hanging over you, then you are vulnerable to all sorts of things and every single thing that you are vulnerable for is bad for the people,” Boesak said.

In this climate of uncertainty, the need for transparency, accountability, and ethical governance has never been greater. The fate of the president, and indeed the nation, hangs in the balance as political manoeuvering and power dynamics continue to shape the trajectory of South Africa’s future.

With the nation grappling with the scars of its apartheid past and the continued endurance of social inequalities, particularly affecting its marginalised black communities, the ANC’s national plan, slated to extend to 2030, concerns loom large regarding the persisting socio-economic disparities deeply entrenched within the fabric of society.

Boesak said the prevalent neo-liberal capitalist system, coupled with a lack of robust strategies to address these inequities, threatens to catalyse a groundswell of discontent and potential social upheaval if left unchecked.

“The ANC has a national plan, built into its 2030 goals. Already the ongoing reality of social inequalities will remain a part of South Africans’ life. Now, if you have a neo-liberal capitalist system and no plan to change those socio-economic inequalities, that undermines everything else, and that can bring revolution to this country if it is not stopped and redirected,” he said.

Boesak said the alignment of ANC policies with those espoused by the DA, which is known for its advocacy of meritocracy, raises eyebrows and sparks apprehension among marginalised communities.

Meritocracy, often touted as a fair system of rewards based on individual merit and ability, is viewed through a lens of scepticism by many black South Africans, who contend that it perpetuates underlying racial disparities.

“That’s why the DA can speak of things like meritocracy, which is a code word for a new form of racism, because if you speak about meritocracy and fit for purpose without historical context and depoliticising it, then that’s pure racism.

“If I as a black child and that person as a white child with the unequal opening to a decent education, that we still have today, come out the other end and we are tested on merit, laid down by people who have been advantaged way above what they deserve and way above what I needed to do,” he said.

Boesak said the departure of prominent black leaders from the DA ranks further underscores the party’s struggle to grapple with the spectre of racism lurking beneath its surface.

“If you have the DA’s most prominent black leaders resign one after the other because they can no longer sit in that fog of racism that the DA tries to keep under the surface but pops up every time it matters,” he said.

Amid these challenges, the prospect of a government of national unity appears fraught with uncertainty. The faltering leadership within the ANC, compounded by allegations of personal misconduct and a perceived lack of ethical integrity, raises doubts about its ability to spearhead meaningful change.

“That is besides the fact that Ramaphosa is a person under such a dark, personal cloud and that he has been weakened. We know him as a person that does not have real political spine. There is no ethical moral compass that angers him, is more persuaded by what is in his personal interest financially, economically, than the interests of his people.

“Right now, you cannot have a person that does not care about the fact that the township child is doomed to a township school, doomed to a township future, so to speak, because they cannot compete with anybody else, not in this country and not abroad,” he said.

Boesak said the plight of racially-marginalised black people in South Africa was inexorably intertwined with the prevailing neo-liberal economic paradigm and the absence of visionary leadership committed to charting a more equitable path forward.

As the nation grapples with its past and confronts the challenges of the present, the imperative for meaningful change remains paramount if the promise of a truly inclusive society is to be realised.

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