Reflections on Ramaphosa's victory

Graham McIntosh says the ANC needs to become a modern political party

I have known Cyril Ramaphosa for some 54 years. I met him at Youth Alive in Dube, Soweto and then later through the SCM at the Turfloop Campus, North of Polokwane. In October 2017 I made a donation to his CR17campaign.

I was delighted that Cyril won re-election at the recent ANC Congress. Cyril is a nice man and respected even by those who disagree with his political views. Internationally he is well regarded. My delight was redoubled because Zweli Mkhize, who opposed him, was one of Harry Gwala’s Communist Commanders in directing, in the 1990s, the “People’s War” in the Natal Midlands. 

I was asked by the DA Federal Youth Chair, Nicholas Nyathi, what my advice as a “veteran of South African politics”, as he described me, might be for Cyril Ramaphosa. I guess I am indeed a veteran of South African politics. In 1974 aged 30, I went to Parliament as a United Party MP. Forty years later, in 2014, I retired from Parliament as an MP for COPE. 

In 2024 the ANC will drop its share of the vote to well below 50% but had Cyril not been elected, the ANC would have lost even more votes. All can observe that the Tripartite Alliance is divided into competing, even warring, factions and losing voter support. South African voters aren’t stupid nor racist. 99% have a cellphone and they want delivery of services. They know that the ANC alone, is responsible for the massive corruption and looting as well as our degrading infrastructure in ESKOM, our railways, harbours and municipalities.

Cyril must immediately start the process of transforming the ANC from a liberation movement into a modern political party. That was the vision that Lekota, Shilowa and Smuts Ngonyama and others, had, when they left the ANC to form COPE. The ANC should return to being the ANC of Luthuli.

The SACP, unelected and unaccountable, has become the snake in the stomach of the ANC. A traditional healer who makes such a diagnosis would recommend “purging” as the treatment for the condition. 

Under Cyril the ANC should not allow dual membership for COSATU and the SACP.  No modern political party allows dual membership. 

The ANC must rewrite its constitution to come into line with political parties in the other Commonwealth democracies. 

Mandela had fingered Cyril as his “golden boy” successor but then Mbeki with his entrenched racial dogmas that also linked into his AIDS conspiracy theories and his support for Mugabe, became President.  

It’s been a long wait for Cyril. He must remain firm to the non-racial convictions so eloquently expressed by Mandela from the dock at his sentencing in Pretoria. 

In Parliament and in our National politics and as local government is already showing, the future is coalition politics. He will have to work with John Steenhuisen as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. Steenhuisen is tough and experienced but will play the constructive role that has been his political hallmark. The IFP too, will be a determined but positive force. The EFF should be marginalised in every possible way. 

Cyril also seems to have consolidated his support in the “Top 7” and in the NEC. He must be deeply gratified and I hope he has a had a super joyful Christmas break and that, as we say in isiZulu — YIDLA KAHLE IKISIMUSI NOKU KHUMBULA UJESU (Eat well at Christmas and remember Jesus). May God bless him personally and South Africa in 2023.