At Ahmed Kathrada’s funeral, former president Kgalema Motlanthe recalled the words of the now famous letter by Uncle Kathy in which he reminded President Zuma: “The position of president is one that must at all times unite this country behind a vision and programme that seeks to make tomorrow a better day than today for all South Africans. It is a position that requires the respect of all South Africans which, of course, must be earned at all times.”
The antithesis of this invocation is even more telling. It is the responsibility of the president not to consciously do anything that will promote anxiety and fear among the citizens.
He must be the embodiment of the constitution that gives hope to all South Africans that conditions shall be created by government that will provide equitable opportunity for self-expression and development for all.
Yet we are faced with a situation where the president, for the second time, has made a reckless and irrational decision to torpedo efforts aimed at promoting confidence and trust among our foreign lenders and development partners, that we are on course to maintain stability in our political economy and predictability in our policy landscape.
What is fundamentally disturbing is that the first disruption of the economy by the president, in December 2015 in what is now known as “Nenegate”, was justified on patent untruths. What followed was a meltdown and the rand went into free fall.
We are informed that the top six in the governing ANC put the president under caution that he would not make decisions that would undermine the stability of the political
What is bewildering this time around is that the second irrational and reckless action was executed while meetings of the finance minister – including his team of business partners – and lenders were taking place. We are informed that the motivation for this insane action was made necessary on the basis of an “intelligence report” claiming that Pravin Gordhan was at the centre of a plot to turn international bankers against the president.
Again, the efforts of “Team SA” aimed at promoting confidence and trust among investors were torpedoed by the president on the basis of an untruth. We are informed that the top six withheld their support for his planned Cabinet reshuffle, subject to further consultation.
The president and all other political leaders in government are deployees of the ANC. It is the responsibility of the president and his team to promote and protect the prosperity of this country, not undermine it.
There is no better moment than now for the leadership to assure South Africans, especially those who voted for the party, that they are indeed in control and that all those deployed to government will uphold its promise of a “better life for all”.
This is the moment that calls for decisive leadership on the part of the top six to ensure that the actions of the president are designed to do what Uncle Kathy wished for. This leadership is now being severely tested as we move closer to 2019 in an increasingly competitive political environment.