Ramaphoria blinds Peter Bruce down path to defamation - Herman Mashaba

Joburg mayor says columnist must retract corruption insinuations or be sued

Ramaphoria blinds Peter Bruce down path to defamation

21 May 2019

In his piece this past Sunday, “A pause for a little horse trading and greedy decisions", Peter Bruce displays an unhealthy obsession with rehashing old rumors to make his favourite politician, Cyril Ramaphosa, seem like the greatest thing this country has seen since sliced bread.

Bruce portrays Ramaphosa as South Africa's saintly reformer while he denigrates others, myself included, as masters in the dark art of sacrificing principle at the altar of political expediency. 

His fanaticism for Ramaphosa and vilification of others lands squarely as defamation.

To borrow wise words from respected political analyst, Aubrey Matshiqi, South Africa's political terrain is made up of angels with horns and devils with halos, Peter.

It is often the angels with horns who find their way inside the Union Buildings.

Against all hope, Bruce continues to hold out that Ramaphosa will cut the number of cabinet ministers from a bloated 35 to 25 - a supposed sign of Ramaphosa being emboldened by the May 8 election outcome.

Unfortunately, he became the first ANC president since 1994 to achieve below 60% electoral support.

That the trade-offs Ramaphosa made to become ANC president may put paid to Ramaphoria 2.0, does not occur to Bruce.

There are unsavory characters who worked the branches to get Ramaphosa elected. Those people did not put in months of work, crisscrossing the country at ungodly hours simply to watch the gravy train leave without them.

It is a known fact that a candidate for the ANC presidency does not win an election by themselves, but depends on an army of lobbyists at all levels of the organisation.

They helped secure branch delegates for Ramaphosa. They expect to be rewarded.

In their heads, it is their turn to eat too. 

Ramaphosa knows all too well that his backers have their eyes on ministerial positions. Perhaps deputy ministerial appointments will do?

This does not leave the President with much elbow-room to make the drastic cabinet reduction that Peter Bruce and others are angling for.

One can only imagine how Bruce and company will feel about Ramaphosa next week when it becomes patently clear that he is just a politician with ambitions, and that he has backers with even greater and vulgar ambitions.

Bruce ignores these inconvenient truths as he tries to prove that Ramaphosa does not have a penchant for unprincipled deal-making.

Indeed, in his zealous fanaticism, Bruce incorrectly claims that I have furthered the ends of corruption by allowing the EFF to influence tenders and appointments in the City of Johannesburg.

No basis for factual claim is really made. It's just thrown out there to excite Cyril's supporters – all at mine and the EFF's expense.

Bruce then proceeds to take aim at the DA and the multi-party government in the City of Johannesburg, alleging that it succeeds because of access to tenders.

At each turn, Bruce seeks to label myself as complicit in these “deals", suggesting that I use tenders as a bargaining chip.

The EFF votes with us on a case-by-case basis, therefore it would not be untrue to state that the EFF is an integral component of the multi-party government as their support remains crucial to the success of critical Council business.

It is for this reason that I saw it fit to state the facts.

This is so because, at the heart of Peter Bruce's piece is an overt suggestion that there exists a corrupt relationship of sorts between myself, primarily, and the EFF.

More specifically, the suggestion made is that it is this corrupt relationship that has effectively kept our multi-party government, of which I am leader, in place.

Put more bluntly, Bruce suggests that if I, Herman Mashaba, had not until this point used my political office to engineer things behind the scenes to ensure that the EFF either directly or indirectly benefits from City contracts, then I would have long been out of power.

These allegations have given rise to a narrative that goes against the reputation I have built thus far as an anti-corruption mayor. This reputation is also one in which members of the multi-party government have found tremendous pride.

However, this prevailing narrative has been latched onto by senior media figures and political analysts to create a negative perception about the multi-party government's ability to act firmly, and without favour, against corruption as well as to govern better than the previous administration.

Cunningly, this narrative has also been used by certain editors and political analysts to create a better pitch for their preferred politician.

With all due respect, this electioneering was patently clear before elections and is patently clear now to all those who would care to observe with the slightest ounce of curiosity and objectivity.

It would be a betrayal of the worst kind for me to do the very things that saw our country looted of billions over the years Ramaphosa was deputy president and president of South Africa and the ANC.

I know some people have convinced themselves that I hate the ANC so much that I would ignore gross corruption in Johannesburg so long as that corruption somehow contributes to keeping the ANC out of power, and me in it.

That would be funny if it wasn't absolutely tragic and cynical.

My administration has received and investigated more than 5 500 cases of corruption, fraud and maladministration, worth a transactional value of R33.9 billion.

If this is not a clear demonstration of our commitment to ridding the City of corruption, I don't what is.

What I take umbrage with is Peter Bruce's slanderous and baseless accusation that I have “allowed the EFF to influence tenders and appointments" in the City of Johannesburg.

I take this accusation seriously and now demand Peter Bruce to retract this accusation and apologise or face a lawsuit for defamation.