The ANC's genius for doing the wrong thing

Douglas Gibson says our govt's pro-Hamas diplomacy will cost SA

President Cyril Ramaphosa is in many respects a clever man. Anyone who can become a billionaire by parleying his connections with the ANC into being given millions in shares is not to be under estimated. Of course, he is a very poor administrator, leader and governor. He would have done better by staying in the counting house, like old King Cole, counting out his money. His cabinet is a mediocre one, containing too many underperformers and third-raters).

One of the cabinet exceptions is Dr Naledi Pandor, the minister of International Relations and Co-operation. (As an aside, why does she not motivate for a change from that gobbledegook to plain old “Foreign Affairs”?). Pandor is highly intelligent (as one would expect of the daughter of the late Joe Matthews of the IFP and the granddaughter of ZK Matthews, an early leader of the ANC). She is superbly educated.

She was Grace Matthews until she met and married Sharif Pandor and converted to Islam. It is the latter fact that makes her totally unsuitable to advise the president on his Foreign Policy exploits. She, to be fair like most ANCs, has a biased view of the world and seems to be in love with every dictator and every undemocratic country in the world. Given that background, of course she dislikes the Israelis and is in love with Hamas.

President Ramaphosa has grand visions of his potential power and influence in the world. He would love to be the mediator, bringing peace to the world. President PW Botha memorably commented about one of my friends in Parliament, who shall remain nameless, “He wants to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.”

Ramaphosa will not become that, because he, his party and Minister Pandor seem always to take the wrong decision about acting in South Africa’s interests. The criminal attack by Russia on Ukraine was a prime example. South Africa declared early in the conflict that it would like to help and mediate. It then backed Russia in their breach of International Law. Who would now regard our president as a suitable, even-handed mediator?

The criminal attack by Hamas on Israel, with the killing of 1400 civilians, the door-to-door searches, the beheading and burning alive of babies, the raping, the taking of hundreds of hostages, including babies, naturally moved the ANC to come out in support of Hamas.

The action of laying charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court, while at the same time, failing to bring charges against Hamas for the unprovoked killing of more Jews in one night than has happened since the Holocaust, 80 years ago. How could anyone ever dream of having Ramaphosa, or South Africa, as a potential peace-maker and even-handed mediator?

People, here and overseas, wonder why the ANC and its governments at every level have a genius for doing the wrong thing. They always make the wrong choices. It is simple: those dedicated to the Struggle served selflessly are now back-numbers or have passed on. Among those who are left, there are a few idealogues (although usually of the Gucci, Cuban Cigar and Blue Label Johnny Walker persuasion).

The rest of that party, from top to bottom, consists largely of place-seekers, materialists, looters, whose ambitions far-exceed their commitment to the poor, to decent government, to the ANC and to South Africa itself.

Just watch them jump ship when the ANC loses power in 2024.

Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and former ambassador to Thailand. His email is [email protected]