The president has thrown down the gauntlet against those calling for his removal, while making it clear that no one in the ANC will escape allegations of corruption.
As his allies closed ranks around him, an emboldened President Cyril Ramaphosa has gone on the attack against the “fightback” faction loyal to his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.
In the wake of the critical national executive committee (NEC) meeting over the weekend – during which his opponents had their daggers drawn against him – Ramaphosa emerged with his position at the top of the organisation solidified.
His message to all in the party, including the Zuma loyalists, was that no one, regardless of their status, would escape appearing before the party’s integrity committee to answer for allegations of corruption.
The president spoke boldly about the steps that will be taken to deal with graft at all levels of the party.
He also highlighted the role of state institutions to deal with the scourge.
Ramaphosa’s morale was boosted by the increasing support he has received from his allies and individuals who wanted him to deal harshly with corruption involving ANC members.
His backers in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) had the last say in the ongoing spat between the Ace Magashule/Zuma camp and the Ramaphosa side.
At the weekend, Cosatu urged Ramaphosa not to negotiate with thieves and criminals and initiated a hashtag campaign #DownWithCorruption, while SACP encouraged the president to be firm on graft.
The latest to enter the fray was former SA National Defence Force chief General Siphiwe Nyanda and former National Union of Mineworkers general secretary Frans Baleni, who launched a two-pronged attack against the Magashule-Zuma camp and Zuma. Nyanda hit at the Zuma faction and Zuma, indicating that they were not qualified to point fingers at others.
The two leaders said the conflict in the ANC that had spilled into the public domain was distressing and the party needed to pursue its undertaking for renewal and unity. They were reacting to what Ramaphosa himself called a “choreographed” attack on him.
This included calls by Zuma backer Tony Yengeni, convicted criminal Andile Lungisa, and Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina, for Ramaphosa to step down.
Their statements were accompanied by a vicious attack against Ramaphosa by Zuma for his letter saying the ANC was corrupt.
Ramaphosa almost disdainfully dismissed the letter in a report back press conference on Monday afternoon, saying he received many letters and did not respond to them all.
The decision by Ramaphosa to appear before the ANC integrity committee was seen as a move to compel all those implicated in corruption to also account for their actions.
Ramaphosa put it in no uncertain terms that he had drawn the line to end corruption and the NEC wanted everybody involved investigated. Those refusing to comply would be suspended or subjected to the ANC disciplinary code.
It became apparent to whom he was referring when he said the comrades and their families who did business with government would be scrutinised and guidelines would be formulated.
ANC secretary-general Magashule’s two sons allegedly irregularly benefitted from Covid-19 personal protective equipment tenders in the Free State.
Cosatu chose to support Ramaphosa’s candidacy for the ANC presidency at a hotly contested party national conference held at Narec, south of Johannesburg, in December 2017. The federation expected Ramaphosa to do better than Zuma in creating decent jobs for workers.
He led the formulation and implementation of an ambitious national minimum wage that was warmly welcomed by the trade union movement.
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