The slate officially announced by Cyril Ramaphosa last Sunday afternoon undermines his own message on corruption, unity and organisational renewal.
Cyril Ramaphosa has campaigned heavily on key central messages of anti-corruption, unity and organisational renewal, but all these messages are bitterly betrayed by the line-up of national officials he has announced for his slate.
On the first message of anti-corruption, let's analyse his "running mates" and how they measure up to the goals of the clean, corruption-free ANC leadership that Cyril has promised, starting with Cyril Ramaphosa himself. On Monday, he was implicated via his company Shanduka in yet another tax-avoidance scheme.
It's not the first time that the deputy president has been implicated in a scheme to defraud the country through tax-avoidance; his tenure as chair of the MTN board was riddled with such schemes.
It was during his tenure that MTN is reported to have bribed the Iranian regime with nuclear and arms-related assistance, in order to secure an operating licence in that country; a case that is still being litigated to this day. The are numerous reports that point to generally corrupt business practices by Cyril Ramaphosa; we don't have enough time to get into all of them today.
Let's move our gaze to Gwede Mantashe, whom Cyril has nominated to be the ANC's national chairman. Mantashe is reported to have been involved, through his son, in the massively corrupt R631-million tender to build toilets in Eastern Cape. Furthermore, Mantashe reportedly has a R1.4-billion tender, through his wife, to supply food to the Eskom Medupi plant. The choice of a corruption-tainted Mantashe is incongruous to Cyril's anti-corruption message.
When we turn to Ramaphosa's choice for treasurer, Paul Mashatile is the head of what is known as the "Alex Mafia"; a grouping of politicians and businessmen who hail from Alexandra township and have an iron grip on Gauteng and its finances. As with Jacob Zuma, the dark cloud of corruption simply won't dissipate over Mashatile's head.
Four out of the five people that will lead a Ramaphosa ANC have unresolved corruption scandals dogging them. This is hardly a new broom, and doesn't promise to sweep clean any corruption in the ANC. As John Githongo, the Kenyan investigative journalist turned corruption-buster, once wrote: "It's simply a case of 'it's their turn to eat'."
Ramaphosa has also campaigned on a ticket of unity. It is worth noting that slates are the most divisive thing inside the ANC, leading to the organisation outlawing slates in its 2015 National General Council. So by announcing a slate of running mates to "unite" the ANC, Ramaphosa was in reality further entrenching divisions. It's a tragic comedy, courtesy of what Gwede Mantashe has termed "the political silly season".
However, beyond that, the people that Ramaphosa has appointed to "unite" the ANC have led to some of the worst divisions in the Congress movement. Gwede spearheaded the expulsion of Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu, which led to the breakaway Economic Freedom Fighters, which in turn took one million voters and two metros from the ANC –– and the peace of mind of their president in Parliament.
Senzo Mchunu is party to the intense and entrenched divisions in the ANC's biggest province, KwaZulu-Natal. Mchunu has failed to agree to an amicable solution to years of divisions, yet Ramaphosa claims that these two will help him unite the ANC.
It's the same old wine in new bottles.
Cyril indicated his availability for the ANC presidency by speaking in parables, relaying the analogy of an eagle that painfully removes its claws in order for newer, stronger claws to grow.
The earlier parts of his lobbying campaign were centred around the message of organisational renewal. He has touted organisational renewal as a key message of his campaign, but his choice of slate running mates is again at odds with that message.
For organisational renewal to become a reality, a new layer of leadership should emerge, and sweeping changes should be made to the old-guard leadership collective. But alas, Paul Mashatile, Senzo Mchunu and Gwede Manstashe are all part of the pirates of Polokwane. They were party to making Zuma president –– now Ramaphosa wants them to make him president, too. There isn't much organisational renewal behind that –– it's the same old wine in new bottles.