Where have you gone Mr Ramaphosa? Despite your recently published “approval ratings”, the nation turns its lonely and longing eyes to you tonight.
It’s been thirteen days since my last confession, in the form of my open letter to our President and it is confirmed to be with his office, but I can’t claim to have had either a direct or indirect response via smoke signal, email, semaphore or Hogwarts owl.
Not that I expected to. He’s a busy man with many and difficult demands made of him. Still, I’d hoped, even while possibly partnering him for a light jog down the Sea Point Promenade, to share some of the desperate local and international frustrations which emanate directly from the well-known cautionary phrase of “never over-promise and under-deliver”.
One of the promising responses I’ve had from a prominent businessman to my open letter is that Mr Ramaphosa has lined up all his domino chips patiently and carefully, and it’s just matter of days before he gently nudges the first one over and they all start falling in place.
May this please be true.
Sadly, there is nothing we can currently draw on to suggest this is accurate. This 2020 SONA will need to be Mr Ramaphosa’s final “confession” if perhaps that has been his silent and carefully constructed strategy all along.
Words alone won’t cut it any more.
Having ascended off the promise of a fight against corruption, it’s deeply disturbing to see so many of the rogues gallery still populating the seats of Parliament, the ANC NEC and municipalities. All of them still walking around scott-free and bolder than ever.
Despite well researched media investigations that chronicled the age of state capture in great and undeniable detail; despite the country’s institutions of democracy and government departments on the brink of implosion due to the same people’s incompetence and eye-popping corruption; even despite the auditor general’s numerous reports of tens of billions (we no longer talk in paltry millions) spent in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, most of it a euphemism for fraud, most certainly.
Those well-known characters who have deliberately disassembled quality departments and structures to render them utterly useless whilst being paid handsomely to do so.
Being given chauffeured cars, fancy houses, security and our infamous blue-light brigades to transport them in consummate comfort from self-inflicted disaster to disaster. These people who took an oath to work for us and were paid by us. By our tax money.
We must be mad. Mad as hell.
This apparent level of serene tolerance for fraud, corruption, ineptitude and sabotage can only be as a result of a few clear options that we often hear people speculating about.
1. President Ramaphosa is indeed ending his long-game play imminently and the NPA is about to pounce on these notorious felons? The judicial shot across Zuma’s bough last week, looked mildly promising.
2. The President is paralysed from moving ahead as his grip on the ANC leadership is tenuous – his NEC majority is marginal and the Top Six is at best fractious, at worst against him, rendering him all but paralysed. The recall is always a looming threat.
3. The President has created false outrage about the scourge of corruption to quieten the voters for now and will continue to be “shocked” and pretend something is going to happen, until after his second, and final, term is secured?
Which is it Sir? It’s not for South Africa to speculate further about such matters. Take us, your citizens, into your confidence.
If indeed it is the ongoing threat of a recall, you have but one credible card you may well be considering playing. It’s a big decision, a drastic move, but possibly your only chance, and that is to to declare a State of Emergency, which as you know, dramatically enhances your Executive powers and allows for the arrest of those continually threatening you and thereby our very democracy and Constitution.
I have no idea whether or not you should ultimately play this card Sir, but how else will you liberate yourself to act, with the constant specter of recall?
You are an experienced and canny politician Sir. You know the international community, the IMF and the global leaders, all of whom you have on speed dial, would definitely get behind you. No question about that. As would South Africa’s (and even the world’s) most powerful Corporates and business people, if the clear intent was to secure your currently threatened leadership in order to move against those simply refusing to leave the trough or return their ill-gotten means.
It would be short term pain to once again liberate our country to the dream and vision of Madiba, the very man who placed ultimate faith in you. A man who never walked away from a fight in his “long walk to freedom” as celebrated just this week. And in a very different way thankfully Sir, you are now on a walk yourself, to liberate you to fix our country, with the help of some of the best brains and companies in the world, who have been on standby since Nasrec.
The entire free world and our whole country answered your call for Thuma Mina, but the great question everyone is now asking, is when are you going to send yourself?
That is what this SONA is about Sir. It’s no longer about asking us to be sent, as we have been waiting to get going (and doing whatever we can in the interim). It’s now truly about you answering your own call, in an overt and obvious way.
We’ve endured another excruciating week of economy-crippling, load-shedding, another week of uncertainty and non-delivery leading up to your grand speech, but the thing is Sir, your SONA is not simply a talk, it’s actually a promise, which the country will now measure you on. You’d expect this surely?
There was a time for promises and platitudes, of good faith and belief. Those days are truly over. It’s now crunch time for delivery. That is not to say you still don’t have our faith and belief, but if you equate it to a tank of petrol, you are factually well into reserve.
You drank deeply from the well of trust as our seemingly paralyzed Deputy President to Zuma and we all knew (or hoped) you were playing the long game to succeed him and win.
Then came that knife-edged evening where you thankfully pulled the rabbit out of the hat at Nasrec narrowly beating the Zupta forces. But you have sat on the throne now for a long time. Crown on head, orb and scepter in hand, whilst our people are hungry and unemployed, foreign courtiers and diplomats are visiting other African countries for investment and the lights are often off.
This is your final moment Mr President. Your one last chance to garner the final vestiges of faith, goodwill, energy and determination of not just our proud and robust nation, but the support of the international community and to deliver a hard and robust SONA, a PLAN, which you promise to deliver on.
We are the same country that Nelson Mandela took onto a world stage in 1994, the same country with vast mineral, agricultural and industrial wealth and capability, much of it crippled, but still able to rebuild.
We are the same country that had strong economic growth under Thabo Mbeki, with high levels of creative and intellectual ability.
A country that is up there with the very best in banking, manufacturing and many other industries.
It took one man and his cronies to break this country. It can take one man and his supportive team of millions of people to rebuild it. Don’t give way to failed policies simply for political capital. Don’t think in electoral terms but rather, as an astute businessman, and how you’d fix your own company.
We cannot do it without you answering your very own call.
As I sat at the tennis on Friday night, it took me back to the 2010 Soccer World Cup and all the remarkable energy at that time. The Federer #MatchInAfrica was equally spectacular and professional.
And again, the goodwill behind our beautiful country, felt immense from sporting, entertainment and business titans like Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Trevor Noah and the hugely influential, Bill Gates. Then we had the coin toss by our 2019 Rugby World Cup winning captain Siya Kolisi whilst being entertained by the globally famous Ndlovu Youth Choir and Zipzap Circus.
The magic was there in abundance, despite the reality check of our economy and all the challenges the “lost 10 years” have inflicted on our poor country and tens of millions of lives.
As I’ve said before Mr Ramaphosa, I have been one of your loudest cheerleaders. I had hoped we’d be well into your New Dawn of job creation, fixing the SOE’s, seeing the thieves in their orange onesies, focusing on education, investment and growth. But none of that has happened.
People say we’ve gone from Ramaphoria to Ramageddon and
whilst that is a brutal criticism, the Nation is now desperate for
meaning acts of renewal and rebirth.
So here it is. Your moment. Cometh the hour Sir. The entire world is watching your next move. What will it be?
In the words of the great Elvis Presley “it’s now or never”….
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