One of the most underestimated parameters in the world of politics is time. President Cyril Ramaphosa is about to learn that the simple passage of time can be a big factor in achieving political goals.
Those who want him replaced know he is relying heavily on the natural functioning of state legal organs to get them removed, which takes a long time to effect. But they rely on political manoeuvres which they can speed up or slow down at will to hasten his downfall. Right now, they are moving faster than he can respond and, so, have the upper hand.
Each time the ANC held its national executive committee meeting (NEC) in 2017, the country held its collective breath, silently hoping for the news that then president Jacob Zuma would be forced to resign.
The meetings never bore the desired result and the president survived all NEC attempts to have him removed.
It would seem the country and the ruling party are back playing that game, the only difference now being that the country is holding its breath for Ramaphosa to survive the latest NEC meeting, not only by remaining in his position, but ensuring that the ruling party faction that has its guns out for him and Minister Pravin Gordhan do not gain an upper hand by either forcing Gordhan out, or removing stateowned enterprises from his portfolio.
How did it get to this? It got here even before Ramaphosa’s managed palace coup in 2018.
The president made a deal with his deputy, David Mabuza, to ensure that he ascended to the country’s highest office.
The only thing the president gained from that deal is the key to the Mahlamba Ndlopfu presidential residence. He ceded the power to call the shots within the ANC to his second-in-command and the dominant faction within the party.
The president’s strategy of letting the legal processes sort out the bad guys in his organisation is on the verge of backfiring because they are not just sitting still, waiting to be culled.
It is a scary thought that the anti-Gordhan faction in the ruling party can stoop so low as to use the country’s electricity crisis to achieve its aims of regaining power.
Gordhan, whatever his faults are in their eyes, cannot and should not become so central to their fight with Ramaphosa that they are willing to bring the country to its knees simply to get rid of him.
But as is often said, there is no honour among thieves and it is within the faction that wants to steal power back that one cannot expect honour.
Late Jamaican reggae icon Bob Marley had a song titled Time Will Tell.
Having been a notable political activist in his country during his short but impactful life, there was a time when he got to a point when he realised it’s not the side with the moral high ground that wins all the battles, but it’s sometimes only the passage of time that can get good to triumph over evil.
In the short term, it comes down to political manoeuvring to stay on top. Ramaphosa and his faction need to up their game if they wish to put this country back on track.
Otherwise, he must join us in singing God Bless South Africa as we wait hopefully for the bad guys to be swallowed by time, eventually.
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