One country two presidents - a challenge to reason [South Africa SONA 2018]

in news •  9 months ago

Democracy has been good to us. We have two presidents now. It has it's benefits, but also it creates a situation where we are having a challenge, to put that in South African parliance.

The story so far

People vote for a party in a national election. The president or leader of the ruling party is then assigned by the party, to fulfil the role of the president of the country. Before January 2018, that person used to be a man named Jacob Zuma.

Like Mandela, he too was imprisoned by the old regime. He is revered by many for his political genius. He has managed to work his way by gaining support from various factions, even leading to the ousting of the second president, Thabo Mbeki with the help of this guy called Juju and his youth brigades.

But everything changes in time. In a system of patronage where leaders reach power by promising favours to supporters, there are no guiding principles except the pace of delivery. When people feel the pace of receiving their share of the promised rewards is too slow, they experience once a gain a challenge.

The ruling party elected a new president. Cyril Ramaphosa

Who is Cyril Ramaphosa?

  • His career started out as a trade union leader of great repute.
  • He played a leading role in the construction of a dispensation where the old guard would hold onto power for more than 20 years without anyone being able to do anything about it.
  • During Mandela's presidency, speculation was that this man would take over after Mandela
  • He however saw it more lucrative to join the capitalists, and directly loot from the masses. Brilliant. He joined the board rooms of several large capitalist power houses. From the power he had as a major leader and shaker of the 'revolutionary party' he managed to make a fortune in his new role as capitalist.

Zuma's Legacy

Zuma is an architect of a brand of leadership known these days as 'state capture'. How does it work, you ask? It's very revolutionary actually, and yet very simple. Zuma asked himself, if Cyril could make so many big deals with new friends while not being a direct politician in office, what could be achieved if he as a political head of state, made friends like Cyril had done? Zuma doesn't have the necessary skills due to historical educational challenges so this left him unable to compute many things. So he simply delegated these functions to someone else. Zuma is famous for having coined the revolutionary slogan

"if you can't count something,
let someone else count it for you"

So everything is working fine, why is there a challenge you ask? Well, Zuma being a revolutionary minded leader, has also developed the tendency to do things in ways that create uneasiness. This video shows an interview with a political analyst that describes one of Zuma's famous midnight cabinet reshuffles.

Naturally, this kind of reshuffling causes a lot of uneasiness because party supporters waiting in the aisles want to know whether if when they get their cut, will their contracts last just a weekend? If they update their LinkedIn profiles on Friday, then by Monday, they have to update again, this creates a challenge because internet access is very slow and expensive in South Africa. Furthermore, the style of leadership of capture tendencies and cabinet reshuffles, creates problems for financial planning in any business. Furthermore, there are many corporations which prefer Cyril to Zuma. Cyril's friends are very much the old guard with interests from the European side. Zuma's company friends are the Gupta's a rich family originally from India

Anyway, I didn't mean to make a political science lecture here. I just wanted to give you a basic idea so you understand why we will not be having the State of The nation Address today as planned. The parties (all parties, including even Zuma's party) see no sense in having Zuma (current national president) address the nation at the beginning of the parliamentary sitting 2018 because the leader of the political party is Ramaphosa. So it would create, you guessed it, a challenge which is also very embarrassing for both leaders to be sitting there while both of them feel it is the other one's role to be doing the main speech.

I hope you will give your ideas what we have to do in this challenge?


Image Credits: [1] Zuma from an article by Gareth Newham published in Sowetan newspaper and appearing on corruptionwatch [2] Ramaphosa article by Solly Moeng in fin24

CreativeCommonsLicense This work is licensed under the Creative Commons 4.0 International License

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I'm fairly new here, great post by the way.I think the actual challenge behind all this is the vacuum of power that's created at the NEC. Having it so long before a national election creates the 2 centres of power, especially for the governing party. I think it creates 2 mandates from higher up and ANC members truly stick to what is mandated to them. So I think the ANC needs to review their internal Constitution perhaps?


You will soon be at home here. Your posts are great, and thanks for saying that about mine.

I'm perhaps more battle-worn so my opinions may be less optimistic and I tend to leave less to the benefit of doubt when it comes to people in general - not a good thing in our profession is it? I am not sure a review would matter much my learned friend. I believe that if there were more integrity, that would go a longer way toward causing one mandate to not be in conflict with subsequent mandates. What the mandate essentially has become is no longer policy in line with our charter, but certain allegiances in line with certain stomachs. This crisis of morality is not confined to this party. I believe it goes much deeper and pervades our whole society, placing even the morally conscious individual awkwardly out-of-sync with his surroundings. To see that in effect one only needs to look at the real culpability we share in tragedies like Esidimeni to come round to what I am saying. Yes, it is leadership, collective, or otherwise who is fundamentally to blame, but it is community members who form part of that collective and who turn blind eyes to what is happening. Ultimately, the individual is faced with a choice: object, burn bridges and become marginalised - or stick around in the hope that something trickles down his way. This tendency is exacerbated in a climate of gross inequality. In a few words, corruption thrives where inequality is condoned.