When Ramaphosa announced the lockdown, he seemed caring, in charge. We wanted to support him. He sounded like a father figure. He was not the Bad Orange Man, here was a statesman!
But I wondered if you noticed his explicit mentioning of the Oppenheimer and Rupert families - the families of White Monopoly Capital - to thank them for setting up funds for loans to small businesses? (I am not sure how effective these funds have been.)
These were the great enemies of the radical wing of the party he ostensibly leads.
I found it strange, especially as he kept on speaking of the virus as an opportunity for Radical Economic Transformation (RET). The idea of RET is used to attack WMC so as to bring about the NDR (National Democratic Revolution). The ANC loves acronyms. Sometimes they speak of the NDP too, the more palatable and moderate version of RET.
So who is Cyril - capitalist, or the proponent of the National Democratic Revolution so long proposed by the ANC and its ruling partner, the South African Communist Party?
His talk of Ruperts and Oppenheimers meant Ramaphosa must have been consulting Big Business, along with his cabinet and this new body with the odd name of the National Command Council (NCC). Not abnormal, but intriguing.
Strangely, this NCC headed up by Ramaphosa’s big rival for the ANC presidency, the former Health Minister and current Minister of Co-operative Governance (whatever that means), and Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (NDZ).
Now, all of a sudden NDZ seems to be making the calls on things like tobacco sales. It may or may not be significant that she is friendly with notorious tobacco smuggler, Adriano Mazzotti.
And Ramaphosa has gone missing. What does our kindly leader think of the troops on the street, the fact that loans are not being given to small white businesses - even if they employ many black citizens? And Ramaphosa’s ‘neoliberal’ ally, Tito Mboweni, is busy tweeting about policies he disagrees with and how he can barely stand the National Command Council. When will CR next make an appearance? Is there something sinister afoot?
There is this belief that Ramaphosa does not represent the ANC of the Zumas, that somehow he is playing this masterly game to slowly shift the ideologies of RET, that he looks to Big Business to guide some return to some kind of capitalist panacea. (Even though the Ruperts meet with the radical far-leftists, the EFF, too. Apparently about their leaders’ business plans.)
Equally don’t forget Ramaphosa is a massive beneficiary of BEE. He failed as Zuma’s point man on load shedding. He allowed Mabuza to become second-in-command - or rather, perhaps, failed to prevent him becoming so. This makes Mabuza the obvious choice to succeed Ramaphosa as President one day - unless NDZ gets there first.
The ANC is not really a political party, separate from the state. It is a collectivist organisation that still explicitly calls for continued revolution. If their powers that be don’t like the State President, they can remove him - because Ramaphosa never won the national election - the ANC did. Only Mandela has finished his presidency without this party recall before the end of a constitutionally decided term.
The ANC is intertwined with the state. They call the shots. They designed this system at Codesa - a system that defies Luthuli’s vision of an ANC disbanded into political parties after liberation, as there would no longer be any need for mass revolution.
Now, I don’t believe the Ramaphosa as Mandela-esque saviour storyline. Where are the results? Political saviours don’t really exist. And the ANC is the ANC.
But what happens next if NDZ or Mabuza or Ace somehow take the reins?
I don’t know. But a National Command Council running the country right now, with NDZ somehow in the pound seat, seems an ill omen to me.
Lockdowns, National Command Councils? I just don’t like the sounds of these words.
And words usually have more consequences than you think.
Ramaphosa is due to make an appearance in the DA-governed Western Cape on Friday. But a week is a long time.