POLITICS

100 Days in and the cracks in “Ramaphoria” are beginning to widen – Mmusi Maimane

DA leader says President restrained by his political party, and by individual and interest groups that got him elected

100 Days in and the cracks in “Ramaphoria” are beginning to widen

21 May 2018

The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as President of the Republic of South African on 15 February 2018 was predictably met by a wave of optimism and anticipation not witnessed in our nation for the better part of a decade. Many believed – and still do believe – that the election of Ramaphosa as President was the seminal moment in turning around the fortunes of our country and putting us back on track to becoming a leading light in the region, on the continent, and in the developing world.

At the time of his election, South Africa was in a state of political and institutional turmoil. State capture, pervasive and unyielding corruption, nepotism and patronage, an economy on life support and in “junk status”, record high levels of unemployment, increasing poverty reaching unsustainable levels, a basic education system failing our youth, and several broken institutions of state and State-Owned Entities (SOEs) was the status quo. It is these fundamental issues which President Ramaphosa is expected to address and do so thoroughly and timeously.

Indeed, the bar was set pitifully low by former President Jacob Zuma. However, we must not forget that President Ramaphosa also had a role to play in the turmoil he eventually inherited. Ramaphosa faithfully served as Jacob Zuma’s Deputy President for the previous four years and at every juncture displayed solidarity with, and support for, the former President. He protected and endorsed Jacob Zuma and was a crucial member of the senior leadership of the ANC and the government during these tumultuous years.

Before Cyril Ramaphosa could be elected President of the Republic of South Africa, he needed to be elected President of his own political Party – the African National Congress. This is relevant because the outcome of this conference – and the Presidential election race – shapes the scope, extent of authority, and direction a Ramaphosa Presidency would encompass.

Despite his narrow victory at the ANC’s 54th National Conference, the road to his election and the resolutions adopted at that conference will be a relentless constraint on his ability to govern. President Ramaphosa inherited a deeply divided and factionalised ANC. Internally, the ANC cannot see eye to eye on a litany of issues and therefore whichever faction won this leadership race would be forced to compromise their views to a common middle ground. The ruling party’s “top six” is split down the middle, factionally, and therefore many of the political decisions that influence government are reduced to a tussle between two factions within the ruling party.

This is witnessed in what is unfolding in the North West Province. Looting, violence and destruction of property has plagued the streets of the North West – particularly the city of Mahikeng – as different factions of the ANC fight each other for power in the party and in government. This has seen Ramaphosa use his executive power, through Section 100 of the Constitution, to try and resolve internal political strife within the ANC by placing the province under administration. We must condemn this move and call it out for what it is. Ramaphosa cannot use the state for internal political ends – we saw this under Jacob Zuma and will oppose it at every juncture.

In addition to the North West, at least three other provinces are falling apart – namely the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Different factions within these provinces are taking each to court to challenge the validity of Provincial Executive Committees (PECs), and decisions taken by the ANC provincially. This has hamstrung these provincial governments. In KwaZulu-Natal, political killings are on the rise as ANC factions fight each other for control of resources and access to patronage networks. This has a direct effect on governance in those provinces and because of ANC infighting, the people suffer. President Ramaphosa is presiding over a disintegrating ANC, and our governments are feeling its negative effects.

Indeed, his first 100 days have been underwhelming, as South Africans have rightfully expected much for from the President. We remain stuck in a jobs crisis, while our country is not safe from crime, and our politicians continue to commit acts of corruption and nepotism. All while living conditions of South Africans have not changed. Tax is up, jobs are dying, petrol is increasing, and food is becoming unaffordable.

President Ramaphosa is governing on a fragile, compromised mandate, and therefore will never be able to effect total change that will turn our nation around, eradicate corruption, create millions of jobs, make our country safe, and fix our broken education system.

The National Executive

President Ramaphosa inherited one of the biggest Cabinets in the world - bloated and comprising of many compromised and incompetent individuals. The 35 Ministers and 37 Deputy Ministers will – in salary earnings alone - cost our country R163.5 million this year, and R510.5 million over the medium-term. This excludes Ministerial houses and vehicles, VIP protection, travel allowances, and private offices and their staff contingents.

While committing to reducing the size and cost of Cabinet - and ridding it of those who are underperforming and are linked to corruption – the President has failed on both accounts.

To this day he retains Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet in form, changing only a few personnel along the way. While he removed the likes of Mosebenzi Zwane, Des Van Rooyen, Lynne Brown, David Mahlobo, Faith Muthambi, Bongani Bongo and Fikile Mbalula – his new broom failed to perform a clean sweep of all compromised and incompetent ministers. Malusi Gigaba, Nomvula Mokonyane, Bathabile Dlamini, Aaron Motsoaledi and Angie Motshekga all remain in Cabinet, despite their dubious track records.

To create a capable, streamlined state, President Ramaphosa must cut the size of the National Executive, and remove all those compromised, underperforming, and non-performing Ministers. In this first 100 days, he has failed to do such.

The Economy

Due to a combination of the ANC’s uncertain economic policies, and Jacob Zuma’s personal mishandling of the economy, Ramaphosa inherited a struggling and stagnant economy. Once again, as the former Deputy President and second in charge, he cannot absolve himself from the mess he inherited. The expanded unemployment rate was 36.3% by the end of 2017, and with a staggering 9.2 million unemployed South Africans. The SA economy grew by a paltry 1.3% in 2017, coupled with a decrease in net Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Within the first 100 days, the President has signalled an intent to move us in the right direction. Small, cosmetic changes such as the appointment of four investment envoys to attract foreign investors to South Africa; signing long-delayed renewable energy contracts worth $4.7 billion with Independent Power Producers (IPPs); a proposed Youth Employment Service (YES); and the appointment of Nhlanhla Nene as Minister of Finance are all examples of such.

However, there are still policies within his government and the ruling party that will always act as a barrier to growth and job creation. Until he deals with such policies, we will continue our low growth high unemployment trajectory for the foreseeable future. This has seen the number of unemployed South Africans increase during the first months of his Presidency, from 9,216 million in the previous quarter to 9,481 million.

If Ramaphosa is serious about revitalising our economy and ensuring jobs are created, he should at once:

Reverse the 1 percentage point VAT hike;

Upgrade the current Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) to a full Youth Wage Subsidy;

Introducing a National Civilian Service year to provide work experience for the approximately 78 443 unemployed matriculants (from the class of 2016 alone) to enter into work-based training in the community healthcare, basic education or SAPS fields;

Reverse the decision to cut the Competition Commissions budget, as the Commission is crucial to reducing the concentration of the economy and allowing small businesses to flourish;

Institute a review of all labour legislation, with a view to liberalise the labour market making it easier to employ people;

Amend B-BBEE legislation to include internships, bursaries, and funding of schools as legitimate empowerment;

Reject the proposed amendment of section 25 of the Constitution to expropriate all land without compensation, which creates uncertainty and volatility in the economy;

Ensure that the 100 000 unpaid invoices, worth over R7.7 billion, between government departments and small businesses are paid;

Adopt a City-led economic growth agenda, focusing on cities as the drivers of growth and job creation; and

Reconsider a blanket National Minimum Wage, which favour the employed at the expense of the unemployed and will cost at least 700 000 jobs, killing many small businesses.

Countries rise and fall on the strength of their economies, and this holds especially true for the developing world. Just tinkering at the edges, with a talk shop here and a summit there, will not fundamentally restructure the economy to creates jobs. The President still has a long way to go when it comes to the economy.

Corruption

Corruption has long been the hallmark of the ANC-led national government. Since the first allegations relating to the now infamous “Arms Deal”, corruption has been rampant across government – fed by the patronage politics of the ruling party.

President Ramaphosa has had a seat at the table throughout the majority of the Zuma years, witnessing and turning a blind eye to the corruption within government. Therefore, it remains difficult to know where Ramaphosa stands when it comes to corruption.

During his State of the Nation Address he said the word “corruption” six times, four of which related to public sector corruption, and the other two touching on private sector corruption.

Most notably, he stated that “this is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions” – signalling an intention to tackle corruption head on during his first year as President. He also said he would “urgently” deal with the National Prosecuting Authority “to ensure that this critical institution is stabilised and able to perform its mandate unhindered.”

Over the past 100 days, the evidence of Ramaphosa tackling corruption head on has been scant, and he has left much to be wanting. His appointment of Arthur Fraser as National Commissioner of Correctional Services is a move from the Jacob Zuma playbook, where questionable and compromised individuals are reshuffled and rehired, instead of fired. We have approached the courts to have this decision reviewed and set aside, and we urge the President to not waste time and to reverse his decision to rehire Fraser following the allegations against him during his time employed at the State Security Agency (SSA).

For the President to stamp his mark and be taken seriously when it comes to corruption, he needs to take the following decisions:

Ensure the independence of the NPA by immediately appointing a National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) with the ability to restore the integrity of the NPA;

Support the DA’s move to remove the current Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane from office;

Ensure justice is served in the ongoing trial of Jacob Zuma by cancelling the agreement for the state to continue to pay Zuma’s legal bills;

To not oppose the DA’s legal action in this regard; and

To take firm again against those accused of corruption within the ANC, including Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, and National Spokesperson, Pule Mabe.

Basic Education

Basic Education in South Africa is in an appalling state, and with each passing day it jeopardizes the futures of our young people. Currently, we have one of the worst literacy rates in the world, and 3 of every 4 children cannot read with meaning. We essentially have two education systems in South Africa – one for the rich, and one for the rest. Those who cannot afford private schooling are sent to schools that are run by SADTU appointees, where teachers cannot pass the subjects they teach, and where infrastructure is almost non-existent.

While there are many excellent and dedicated teachers in South Africa, there are currently over 8 million children attending dysfunctional schools where the quality of teaching, in general, is not up to standard.

In order to save our crumbling education system, the President must ensure the following:

SADTU’s stranglehold on education is broken;

Reestablishment of teacher training colleges;

An independent inspectorate is established, mandated and empowered to inspect schools and evaluate the quality of teaching, leadership, management and governance; and

Charter schools are established, allowing a private-public sector partnership which will increase standards of education and accountability.

Health

President Ramaphosa inherited a health system that is in disarray within various provinces – Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to name just two. Despite Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, overseeing both the Life Esidimeni tragedy and the KZN oncology crisis – claiming 144 and over 500 lives respectively – he remains in his job. Motsoaledi is also responsible for the medical student placement crisis, whereby due to administrative failures by government, hundreds of qualified doctors were not placed for their community service for 2018 – many of which are still unemployed.

At a national level, there are too few clinics with 3 182 clinics in South Africa, each serving 16 971 people on average, whilst the WHO suggests a clinic to population ratio of no less than 1:10 000. South Africa has insufficient medical practitioners with less than one (only 0.7) physicians per 100 000 population, and 2.2 nurses per 100 000 population, leaving us well behind peer and OECD nations. Over 2.5 million South Africans live further than 5km from their nearest primary healthcare facility. This is the state of healthcare in South Africa.

As of now, the oncology crisis in KwaZulu-Natal is still not solved. There was and still is a major shortage of doctors, nurses and medical personnel.  Various hospitals and clinics are and were in a dilapidated state and have a major shortage of working medical machinery, essential medicines and other medical equipment. Ramaphosa has taken little action in relation to the healthcare system.

President Ramaphosa’s first move should have been to announce the scrapping of the NHI in favour of a more sustainable and affordable hybrid system, which will still ensure all South Africans receive healthcare cover.

He should have placed the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Health Department’s under administration, and assessed other provincial health departments for staff shortages, ongoing strikes by nurses and health workers, and equipment and medicine shortages.

Ramaphosa should immediately introduce an Expanded Clinic Building Programme in under-served areas nationwide, conduct feasibility studies for under-served areas in order to assess the impact of extended clinic operating hours, and ensure mobile clinics are provided for existing settlements which are not yet formalised and exist beyond a 5km radius from existing public health facilities.

The announcement of a few roadshows and the implementation of the unworkable NHI – as witnessed in his State of The Nation Address - will not solve our country’s healthcare shortfalls.

Public Enterprises

Over the past decade, State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) have been a constant strain on our economy and the national fiscus. Not only were SOEs the playgrounds whereby billions were stolen from our country via State Capture, but the overwhelming majority of SOEs are inefficient, loss making entities which need largescale reform.

Despite chairing the Inter-Ministerial Committee for State Owned Entities (SOEs) while Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa failed to ensure the Committee carried out is mandate of “overseeing the stabilisation and reform of state-owned entities”.

For the 2017/18 financial year, SOEs hold R466 billion in government guarantees. These SOEs continue to make massive losses. Overall, public entities lost R53.7 billion in the 2016/17 financial year. Each and every year, these entities lose more money, ask government for further guarantees, and provide a platform for corruption and nepotism.

In his State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa undertook to change the fortunes of SOEs, including the manner in which their Boards are elected and removed, and the extent of private sector strategic involvement – all the while coordinated by Ramaphosa himself.

The President has made some positive decisions – including replacing the boards at Eskom and Denel, as well as ensuring SOE boards reviews bonus payments and conduct lifestyle audits.

While these appear to be positive steps in the right direction, much more is required to address the real menace here. The President should have already:

Identified SOEs that are to be part-privatised;

Begun the process of splitting Eskom into a generation entity and transmission entity, with the generation entity privatised, and the transmission entity state owned;

Ensured stability at PRASA, and investigated tender irregularities and the R50 billion locomotive deal;

Made sure all those who are found of wrongdoing be held criminally and civilly accountable;

Finalised new shareholder compacts which highlight the targets and specific objectives for the SOEs – to which they will be held to account;

Merged SAA, SA Express and Mango, with a view to sell off the ailing airline; and

He should have changed the board of both Alexkor and Safcol.

Police

President Ramaphosa inherited a police service that is chronically under-resourced, under-staffed, under-equipped and under-trained. Crime is rampant in South Africa, and the police are simply unable to reduce crime and ensure our country is safe. This would require an entire overhaul of the SAPS, in order to professionalise and equip police men and women, and to depoliticise the appointment of those at the very top.

In his State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa committed to a range of new programmes that will tackle crime and build safer communities – including the “Community Policing Strategy” and the “Youth Crime Prevention Strategy.”

Since then, it appears not much has materialised. The President did replace Police Minister Fikile Mbalula with former Police Commissioner, Bheki Cele, which received mixed feelings due to Cele’s recent past.

The President should have immediately moved to professionalise and equip the police service by:

Conducting a thorough lifestyle audit of all senior police members to stem corruption;

Beef up the independence of IPID and see to it that they are properly resourced;

Conduct an audit of all station-level resourcing issues and determine where the gap; and

Commission an independent evaluation of all current policing strategies and their effectiveness.

It would appear that tackling the scourge of crime in South Africa does not appear high on the President’s list of priorities.

Land Reform

President Ramaphosa inherited two problems. Firstly, a skewed pattern of land ownership to the exclusion of the majority of black South Africans. And secondly, a Department of Rural Development and Land Reform that has failed to address this skewed pattern for more than two decades.

The story of land reform in this country is one of utter failure of the ANC government. While land reform is often part of campaign rhetoric, results over the 24 years paint a dire picture. The recent EWOC campaign yet again just a campaign slogan that offers no real solution to the current crisis. The core argument is that compensation has not been the major stumbling block. The ANC must address the systemic issues from lack of political will, corruption and elite capture to lack of capacity, budgeting and post settlement support.

Unfortunately, the President has failed to carve his own view on land and has resorted to the divisive rhetoric of the ANC. In doing so, he has failed to protect property rights, ensure justice, and attract investment that will lead to job creation.

In his State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa reaffirmed his commitment to expropriation of land without compensation, which should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensures that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.

Expropriation without compensation has provided uncertainty to investors and land owners in general, and people with informal tenure such as people living on communal land and farms are still not fully protected. ANC land reform programmes have continued to champion state custodianship which doesn’t expand black ownership of land and is an injustice to people deserving of the land they have been deprived of.

In his first 100 days, the President has erred in his approach to land reform. Instead of using the Constitution as a scapegoat, he should have done the following:

Directed more funds to land reform. Currently, the government spends more on VIPs for politicians and Ministers - R2.8 billion - than it does on land reform - R2.7 billion. Less than 1% of government’s total budget spending is on land reform;

Put in concrete steps for the speedy resolution of land claims and disputed land claims;

Inclusion of urban land reform to facilitate economic opportunities for people in urban areas;

Ensuring the protection of people’s land especially those with insecure land rights;

Assess all government owned land with a view to transferring to individuals; and

Ensure that 4 300 state-owned farms which forms part of the 17 million hectares of state-owned land must be assessed for distribution to black land beneficiaries.

In his first 100 days, the President has missed an opportunity to affect real change and unity in our nation regarding the land question. Instead, he’s reverted to the ANC’s rhetoric on blaming the Constitution – while many black South Africans remain without land and without dignity. We urge the President to make a necessary about-turn on this matter, in order to protect property rights, ensure justice, and attract investment that will lead to job creation.

Conclusion

Since this election as President, Cyril Ramaphosa has worked overtime in trying to distinguish himself from Jacob Zuma and the ANC – as a savior of the nation and the man who has the will, the grit, and the integrity to turn our country’s fortunes around and see it prosper.

Over the past 100 days, it has become clear that regardless of Ramaphosa’s intentions, he is a comprised President whose powers are greatly restrained by his political party, and by the individual and interest groups that got him elected. The cracks in “Ramaphoria” are beginning to widen.

Our country needs a fresh start and total change, that which President Cyril Ramaphosa cannot bring about. South Africa deserves better. Our vision is to see our nation become the united, prosperous and non-racial country we all desire. Where we champion a vibrant and growing economy that creates jobs, where those left behind are given opportunity, where our streets are safe and crime free, where our education system serves students and not SADTU, where the government serves the people and not politicians, and where corruption, nepotism and patronage are relegated to the pages of history.

Only the DA can bring about that future. We will work tirelessly to inspire hope in our nation and continue our mission of building One South Africa For All, based on the values of Freedom, Fairness, Opportunity and Diversity.

We have begun our election preparation ahead of the National Elections next year. Yesterday I met and briefed all our public representatives and staff in the North West, and this morning I did the same here in Gauteng. Our structures are ready and fired up, and we believe South Africans will be given a real alternative to the ANC come election day in 2019. Total change is possible, and it starts with the DA.

Issued by Mmusi MaimaneLeader of the Democratic Alliance, 21 May 2018