IOL - NEWS / 8 DECEMBER 2019 - 10:00 / PIET RAMPEDI
SOME senior ANC leaders have accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of working with external parties to collapse the governing party and replace it with a centre-right coalition led by him after the 2024 general elections.
They claim the president and his business allies were going out of their way to privatise state-owned enterprises and destroy black-owned companies funded by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) as part of a bigger plot to turn voters against the ANC in favour of a coalition of almost all opposition parties except Julius Malema’s EFF.
This comes as the government this week placed cash-strapped national carrier SAA under business rescue.
Four ANC national executive committee (NEC) members told the Sunday Independent that the party’s top six officials confronted Ramaphosa at a meeting two weeks ago about his alleged negative attitude towards black-owned companies and the use of the PIC to destroy them.
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe and treasurer general Paul Mashatile did not respond to requests for comment. Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, yesterday referred all queries to the ANC.
“I do not speak on ANC matters. Please may I request that you speak to the ANC spokesperson,” she said.
Xolani Dube, a political analyst at the Xubera Institute, said he was aware of murmurings within the ANC about Ramaphosa allegedly working with outsiders to collapse the governing party.
He said the root of unhappiness with Ramaphosa’s presidency within his own party was a perception that he ruled “at the behest of the mining energy complex” - a clique of powerful and wealthy families in the country, including the Oppenheimers and the Ruperts.
“It’s not even a centre-right, but a right-wing coalition,” Dube said.
“Remember, there was that plan of 2017, where the ruling elites wanted the EFF and all the opposition parties to form the government of coalition.
“They tested that model in Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Johannesburg and they noticed that this coalition was not working for them because the decisions were not made quicker and there was so much confusion,” he said.
The sources claimed that the plan to kill the ANC entailed the following:
Sign all long-term Eskom, SAA and Transnet contracts this year or by early next year;
Sell off state assets to pre-selected private partners;
Put SAA into business rescue and eventually terminate all its contracts;
Sell SAA to either Etihad Airways or a European airline;
Take control of key development finance institutions such as the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) through allies to redirect funds;
Starve the ANC of resources by not awarding state contracts to black businesspersons who are its main funders;
Charge or use state institutions to investigate political opponents to keep them busy with criminal cases and subsequently to financially constrain them;
Elevate Ramaphosa above the ANC, so that if the ANC lost support, he could emerge as the undisputed leader of a centre-right coalition of opposition parties, excluding the EFF, after the 2024 general elections;
Destroy Independent Media and the public protector’s office, take full control of the media and drive a single and positive narrative about the country and its leaders;
And make sure there is no mass-based movement that can challenge the new hegemony.
A senior ANC leader, who supported Ramaphosa at Nasrec, accused the president’s business allies of pushing him to adopt economic policies that were opposed to those of the governing party.
“We are selling everything now. By the time we wake up, we would have nothing to show as a country. We will have only Luthuli House,” said the NEC member.
Another NEC member claimed he was lied to about the economic trajectory. “They denied that they planned to sell any SOE. Now they want to destroy Independent and the Public Protector because they have shattered the myth of CR as a corruption buster, and his new-dawn administration as the fighters of state capture.”
ANC sources said Mashatile led the charge against Ramaphosa at a meeting of the party’s top six officials a fortnight ago.
He was supported by Deputy President David Mabuza, secretary-general Ace Magashule and his deputy, Jessie Duarte, they added.
Chairperson Gwede Mantashe is said to have defended Ramaphosa, saying it was unfair to accuse him of using the PIC to destroy black-owned companies because the asset manager had its board and managers who operated independently.
“Paul is the one who raised the issue, saying the president needed to explain to the top six what was happening because there was a view out there that he has a negative attitude towards black businesses, and that he used the PIC to destroy them. The president said he was not involved with PIC matters at all. Ace, DD and Jessie supported Paul while Gwede came to the president’s defence,” said the source.
In recent weeks Magshule and Duarte have been critical of the PIC publicly. Last week, Magashule lambasted the PIC, saying in an opinion piece that there was more to its “spurious” liquidation application against Sekunjalo Independent Media than meets the eye, because it made very little effort to tackle companies like Steinhoff, which cost it billions.
Two weeks ago, Duarte accused the government’s asset manager of targeting Sekunjalo.
On Thursday, SAA appointed business adviser and turnaround specialist Les Matuson as its business rescue practitioner. It received R4billion from the government after filing for voluntary business rescue, which is an insolvency protection mechanism.
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gorham said existing lenders would provide R2bn while National Treasury would cover the balance.
“It must be clear that this is not a bailout. This is the provision of financial assistance in order to facilitate a radical restructure of the airline,” Gordhan added.
Weighing in on the government’s decision to place SAA under business rescue, Malema this week accused Ramaphosa of trying to sell the public’s assets to his friends.
“Every little thing that we have as South Africans which we are proud of, this man is going to sell them to his white friends and that will be his legacy,” Malema said on Gauteng talk radio station Power FM, adding that other SOEs like Eskom, Denel and Airport Company South Africa (Acsa) awaited the same fate.
Wits economics professor Chris Malikane said the government’s decision to put SAA under business rescue, and privatisation in general, was unlikely to yield positive results because it was a “superficial” way of dealing with the problem.
“But the big thing that needs to be done, is to unwind the contracts that have locked SAA to an unsustainable financial situation, and to review the country’s aviation policy to ensure that SAA as a national carrier occupies a national space and a national market for it to be sustainable,” Malikane said, adding that government officials must also be compelled to use SAA.
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