South Africa has once again been flung into limbo as the African National Congress (ANC) and President Cyril Ramaphosa consider their options in the wake of the scathing Phala Phala report.
An address by the president – expected on Thursday amidst rife speculation of his resignation – was called off as allies attempted to convince him to fight for his job.
Calls for Ramaphosa’s resignation grew louder from the opposition quarters after a Section 89 independent panel found that Ramaphosa may have a case to answer over the Phala Phala scandal. Political analysts, as well as public opinion, were split on whether Ramaphosa should throw the towel in or not.
Meanwhile, the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) is scheduled to convene a special session at Nasrec, Johannesburg, Friday afternoon. The drama unfolds just two weeks ahead of the party’s 55th national conference, where 4 000 delegates are expected to elect a new leadership.
‘No surprises here’
Speaking in an interview on Salaamedia, political analyst Tshepo Kgadima said Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo’s findings “should not surprise us”.
“It should not surprise us. I think most of us have been on record over the years, [saying] that the president is guilty of having violated Section 96 of the Constitution,” he said.
Kgadima referred to an article he had written in October, wherein he listed several of Ramaphosa’s business interests that were in direct violation of Section 96 of the Constitution. He also cited Ramaphosa’s own response in a Q&A session under oath.
“He admitted that he was still a businessman and he did so in Parliament. That should have been a clear signal that we are dealing with somebody who is not fit to be the president,” he said.
Solly Moeng, a brand reputation management advisor, said the prima facie findings were disappointing. He said many had hoped Ramaphosa would redeem the country after years of decimation under Jacob Zuma.
“When he became president, there was so much hope that he was the light that would take away all the darkness that came under Zuma. That light has lost its lustre and this is painful for many South Africans,” he told Newzroom Afrika.
Moeng added: “Many South Africans wanted Ramaphosa to succeed. They wanted him to be that man and he’s failed them and that’s where it hurts the most”.
Nation in limbo, Ramaphosa consults
The nation continues to wait for word on what the president’s next step might be. News24 reported he had already resigned himself to walking out, but top-level ANC members convinced him to wait for the NEC meeting before making a public announcement.
The outlet further reported an individual with intimate knowledge of talks involving the president said an address was unlikely to happen on Friday.
“I doubt there will be an address today; fight-back strategies are being explored and there is an overwhelming sense that the president needs to fight on for the best interests of the country,” they said.
The Democratic Alliance had called for Parliament’s dissolution, which would have paved the way for a snap election. However, analysts predict the more likely course would be David Mabuza’s stepping in as acting president until the ANC fields a candidate for an internal parliamentary election.