27/06/2017 05:05 SAST | Updated 27/06/2017 06:33 SAST

Ramphosa Shouldn't Jump The Gun -- The ANC Has A Lot Of Damage To Fix

With two years to go until the next national elections, it is seemingly a make or break period for the ANC.


ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, in calling opposition parties "pretenders to the throne", may have been a little shortsighted -- the ANC is struggling, and the opposition is using every bit of scandal as ammunition ahead of 2019.

While speaking during his keynote address at the National Education and Health Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) national congress in Boksburg on Monday, Ramaphosa emphasised the need to "intensify" the ANC's campaign ahead of 2019, when South Africa goes to the polls.

Although it would be impetuous to say the ANC will be overthrown in two years, the party's reputation in the public sphere is indeed being bludgeoned by allegations of state capture and corruption against some of its top brass including its president and state leader, Jacob Zuma, by growing fissures within its alliance, and by infighting within its own ranks.

The ANC's performance in the 2016 local government elections was devastating -- and one would think after overwhelming losses in key metros, the party would have sought to redeem itself. The ruling party's support bombed to 54 percent last year -- a decrease of 12 percent in a matter of two years.

It lost support in five provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State, the North West, Gauteng and the Western Cape.

This was all before Zuma announced his midnight Cabinet reshuffle in March -- a move that plummeted the rand immediately and caused widespread disarray, even from within the ANC. It was soon after that when the party's alliance partners -- Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party -- along with opposition parties, civil society organisations, the nation's foundations and thousands of citizens started calling for Zuma's head to roll.

Then came the downgrades.

Rating agencies Fitch and S&P were quick to react to Zuma's reshuffle, downgrading South Africa's economy to junk status within a week of the president's decision.

But the ANC' woes were still not over.

With former public protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report remaining an open wound to the ANC, new allegations of corruption within State-Owned Enterprises and within the ANC's ranks began surfacing.

In May, a group of research institutions released a report entitled 'Betrayal of a Promise', which detailed how SOEs and Cabinet ministers had allegedly been captured by the Gupta family and their associates. Some of the names thrown into the mix were former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.

Then, a month later, explosive reports of surfaced of data collected from leaked emails from within the Gupta business empire which showed the family's influence on key members of state. New reports from the leaked emails emerge on a weekly basis.

Opposition parties have also joined the fray.

Earlier this month, the Economic Freedom Fighters released two letters , allegedly from within the Department of Home Affairs, which showed Malusi Gigaba, who was Minister of Home Affairs at the time, allegedly granted the Gupta family South African citizenship prematurely.

This came days after the EFF, in a press briefing, distributed documents that alleged widescale corruption at Transnet during the procurement of locomotives from various international companies.

Now, the ANC are trying to remedy their reputational damage.

Zuma has since called for the establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture and Ramaphosa has come out fighting saying the ANC is, in fact, serious about the allegations.

The party is also likely to increase the number of elected officials into their top brass from six to nine in efforts to accommodate backers from Ramaphosa's and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's camps. Whether this will heal the party's factional woes is yet to be seen.

With two years to go until the next national elections, it is seemingly a make or break period for the ANC.

The party goes into its national conference in December this year, where a new ANC president will be elected. The voting delegates will have a lot to think about before casting their ballot as the decisions that the elected he, or she, makes in the run up to 2019 will be crucial to the preservation of the party.