Ace may be in, Ace may be out, but radical economic transformation will be carried on anyway.
Cyril Ramaphosa’s apparent victory over Ace Magashule has been described as a setback for the faction of the African National Congress (ANC) favouring radical economic transformation. For example, Business Live reported that “many commentators have concluded [that] the way is now cleared for President Ramaphosa to implement his reform agenda”.
The newsletter Africa Confidential opined that the suspension of Mr Magashule, secretary-general of the ANC, was a setback for the faction of the party loyal to Jacob Zuma, which had consistently frustrated Mr Ramaphosa’s efforts to “end corruption, revive the economy, and renew the ruling party”. Mr Magashule’s demise could be a “game-changer” for Mr Ramaphosa, an “incrementalist” who had been chided by some of his own supporters for “being too timid and too slow”.
One of the problems of dealing with corruption is that corruption characterises the ruling elite from top to bottom. How does a party which has practised and/or condoned it and/or luxuriated in it for so long now suddenly extirpate it? The policy of cadre deployment has played a major role in fostering corruption, but there was nothing in Mr Ramaphosa’s complacent testimony to the Zondo commission to suggest that he recognised the catastrophic effects of this policy, let alone that he would even try to jettison it.
The radical economic transformation faction of the ANC may be in or it may be out, but radical economic transformation in the form of the national democratic revolution remains the party’s overriding policy. Although the communications media studiously ignore this policy – as they also studiously ignore communist influence in the ANC - the deputy president, David Mabuza, stated a few weeks ago that the ANC has to continuously renew itself in order to lead the “national democratic revolution”.
Quite apart from its utility as an instrument of patronage, cadre deployment to capture all centres of power is one of the key components of the national democratic revolution. Two others are redistribution of wealth and the implementation of demographic proportionality in the form of racial quotas.