Zondo, an extinction-level event for the ANC? Not an im...

South Africa


Zondo, an extinction-level event for the ANC? Not an impossible prospect

Illustrative image: President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Jaco Marais) | Gwede Mantashe. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle) | Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Alon Skuy)

With the release of the final volumes of the Zondo Commission report, and the damning findings it makes about corruption, lawlessness and incompetence within our state, the focus is now on the ANC’s response and its president, Cyril Ramaphosa. It is likely that his actions will set the tone for the party, whose reaction may determine whether it survives in the national government in 2024.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s findings detail how a group of powerful players took over our state and used it to their own ends.

Just a small list of tidbits: There was a campaign to infiltrate and influence the media run by former State Security Agency head Arthur Fraser with Iqbal Survé’s African News Agency as its “training” partner; the SSA cash handed to former president Jacob Zuma every month by then State Security minister David Mahlobo; the way in which nobody in the party supported Prasa chair Popo Molefe, leaving him isolated when he tried to stop corruption. The list alone would be longer than this article.

And, crucially for our current situation, there is the evidence and the findings that Ramaphosa himself could have — and should have — done more to stop State Capture from proceeding.

But within all of that is this: “The natural conclusion is that, during this period, the most dominant political faction — the ANC under President Zuma — permitted, supported, and enabled corruption and State Capture.”

This finding, that the ANC “supported, and enabled corruption and State Capture”, just two years before the 2024 national election, is obviously crucial.

Ramaphosa and the ANC itself may now say that this is what happened under Zuma, that the party has changed.

Sadly, there is little evidence of this.

For a start, there is the response by Ramaphosa to Zondo’s findings. On Thursday, 23 June, the Presidency released a statement saying:

“The President has committed to consider the Commission’s report in its totality and to present a comprehensive response and implementation plan to Parliament. The Presidency will therefore not respond at this stage to specific aspects of the Commission’s findings and recommendations.” Ramaphosa has said that he will present the response in four months’ time.

So far there appears to be no willingness from other ANC officials to respond publicly, other than an opinion piece by national spokesperson Pule Mabe

Indeed, Ramaphosa has indicated that he will need four whole months to prepare a response “in its totality”. However, the public anger in our society is such that it is not clear if either Ramaphosa, or the ANC, has that much time. 

(Cynics would say that ANC/Ramaphosa would certainly use these four months to deflect attention/invent another crisis. Right now, there are ever louder screams of xenophobia on social networks that in some regions have spilt into real world, with horrific violence in Gauteng townships and the burning of the Yeoville market. It is entirely possible that xenophobia and KZN could become such boiling points that the Zondo report gets forgotten for a while. — Ed)

It seems unlikely that the people key to this — the voters — will have the patience to wait that long, or be easily sidetracked. Nor should they.

Filling in the blanks

Ramaphosa’s apparent reluctance to respond raises important questions.

For a start, does this mean that Ramaphosa will retain Mahlobo as Deputy Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation? This is a man who has been found central to funnelling government — our — cash to Zuma on a regular basis, and who presided over multiple projects that, in any functioning legal system, would have landed hundreds in jail, and for a long time. Mahlobo has so far refused to explain his role in this debauchery.

There are many other people whom the ANC has refused to act against. For example, Mosebenzi Zwane is still the chair of the portfolio committee for Transport, there has been no public move against him either.

When the party is asked about people like this, it refers to its Integrity Commission, saying that the implicated parties must go before it.

But, as Zondo himself points out, it was obvious back in 2013 that Zuma was a kingpin of a national corruption scheme. From the moment that it became public that the Guptas had landed a plane at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, it was clear what was happening.

The ANC’s Integrity Commission told Zuma to resign in December 2016. He did not do so. And the committee did absolutely nothing about it. It was only months later, in the hours after Zuma’s dramatic late March 2017 reshuffle (when Pravin Gordhan was fired as Finance Minister and replaced by Malusi Gigaba) that the committee’s view became public.

More recently, after Ramaphosa claimed to have started this process of “renewal”, this same committee told Deputy President David Mabuza and Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo that it was concerned about their conduct and that they should not occupy their positions

They are still happily in their positions now. Literally hundreds of them.

Bluntly, there is no evidence of the ANC’s Integrity Commission playing the role it is supposed to play. Voters will see this as a slap in the face.

At the same time, some of those implicated in this report may well say they will challenge its findings, a process could take more than two years for every complaint. Some of them are in senior positions.

Does this mean Gwede Mantashe, who has stated he will challenge the report, gets to stay in his two jobs, both as ANC chair and as minister of Energy and Mineral Resources? Does he also get to aspire to a Top Six position at the party’s national conference?

And, if so, does that not incentivise Zandile Gumede and others to simply challenge decisions by the National Prosecuting Authority to charge them, stay in office and continue as though nothing has happened?

Biding time

The immediate tactical benefit for the ANC and Ramaphosa would be to hide behind “processes” and bide their time until the 2024 elections.

It probably has no other choice. Anything else would result in chaos that is certain to spread to the rest of the country. Any meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC), which has to decide on a proper response, is bound to devolve into fight, virtual or otherwise.

So many members of the ANC NEC are implicated in so much wrongdoing (whether in the Zondo report or elsewhere) that it seems impossible to imagine the body developing a comprehensive response and essentially voting for its own jail term. 

People such as Malusi Gigaba, Faith Muthambi, Zwane, Zizi Kodwa, Sifiso Buthelezi, Bongani Bongo, Collen Maine, Mahlobo, Joe Maswanganyi, Siyabonga Cwele, Thabang Makwetla, Nomvula Mokonyane and others all have questions to answer about their role during this period. They do not have a history of generosity or making decisions that are in the interest of South African people.

What’s more, any bid by Ramaphosa to force people to step aside would result in him facing screaming challenges about the Phala Phala farm robbery – already Tony Yengeni and Ngoako Ramathlodi have been reported as trying to bring this up in an NEC meeting.

This reveals the impossibility of the ANC formulating a fair, reasonable — proper — response. At present, or ever again.

Perhaps the only option would be to leave it to branch delegates in December. But that also carries risks, because the chaos will lurk there, and the complete collapse of the conference is not a zero-prospect anymore. The ANC would never recover from such an outcome.

The most likely outcome of this royal mess may be for the ANC to muddle through for as long as possible and that Ramaphosa’s response, even if it is in four months’ time, will be a bunch of toothless platitudes. 

Mind you, in four months, Ramaphosa may come out of the gate swinging; the SA public’s trust in the ruling party of the past 28 years has cratered, never to be recovered, and people have simply stopped believing. 

The most important consequence of the Zondo Commission’s report is what will happen to the ANC in 2024. That perhaps, from initial predictions immediately after last year’s local elections that the party could still win about 48% to 52% of the vote, it will slip much, much further down.

The projection that it would still be the dominant party in a coalition after the poll may no longer hold. That, in fact, it may even be possible, after the elections, for a national coalition of opposition parties to form a national government without the ANC. DM


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All Comments 24

  • I think that the ANC’s integrity committee is there to give their opinion and give sound advice. Its’ role in relation to the ANC is more or less the same as the Zondo Commission is to SA. Others have to implement its findings. Also, politics are full of risks and uncertainty. It is true that the implementation of the Zondo commission now depends on who gets’ elected onto the ANC NEC meeting in December. But the ANC branches now has a chance to clean their party up. If they don’t, then the voters should be, and probably are, waiting for 2024 to reckon off with the party as a whole. The information is in front of all the ANC members now. They don’t have any excuse now; no “apartheid is the cause” or some other disclaimer. Either they get rid of the corrupt in their ranks, or the public gets rid of them. I believe that one of the two is bound to happen. The ANC branches have to decide which one. The ball is in their court.

  • “That, in fact, it may even be possible, after the elections, for a national coalition of opposition parties to form a national government without the ANC.”

    We live in hope…

  • If the DA would have a modicum of brain, they would make it possible for honest and right thinking ANC members to join and start creating some kind of national unity. Unfortunately, they are blind to the SA reality.

    • Well said. But they don’t even have a modicum of brain. A coalition between DA and ANC (the good one) could certainly be a success for the country. It will not be an easy brotherhood but their misplaced pride (both of them) should be curtailed and they should find a common goal and work for the future. Vote for the Democrat African National Coalition.

  • I sincerely hope that what was stated in the last paragraph becomes true. Quite where the EFF would fit into the picture would be a concern. It’s possible that a desperate ANC would bandy together with Malema and his crooks to form a government, particularly with Rhamaposa being so weak.

  • Don’t write off the ANC at the polls. Most voters are too busy watching “Skeem Saam” or such-like. Like the Nissan workers ,worried about jobs, petitioning the Japanese Embassy? The Soviet mind-think is still the overarching philosophy of our union aristocracy . Expect the bogey man(WMC) to be the overall cause of the collapse. Certainly not the God appointed ANC.

  • “That, in fact, it may even be possible, after the elections, for a national coalition of opposition parties to form a national government without the ANC.”

    I pray this is the case.

  • The time has come for the ANC to close its doors, accept they have done nothing for South Africa and its people and walk away shamefully. of course all those mentioned must be punished, harshly so, as they have taken from everyone. those good people in the ANC , and there are some, must ask one question of themselves, why do they still belong to and in this cesspit of greed, corruption and avarice that is the ANC?

  • Great arricle. But I think author is a bit optimistic about the extent of voter reaction. I dont think the vast majority gives a S#!t.

  • Is there any structure or law in place for the public to call for an early election in SA? Surely this would be that time!

  • “It seems unlikely that the people key to this — the voters — will have the patience to wait that long, or be easily sidetracked. Nor should they.”
    Who be the voters ?

  • But for a hopelessly corrupt, useless and dare I say, evil government, South Africa could be a paradise: we have space to expand, generally clean air, mineral wealth, a good climate, the ability to generate our own electricity, water distribution and grow our own food – nobody need go hungry, be uneducated, or not have access to healthcare.
    All we need is the will and determination to oust the ANC Government, remove the impediments that stop us from recovering the money stolen by the corrupt persons, especially Zuma and the Guptas and send them to jail for a long time, sufficient to be a deterrent. Appoint suitable people who have a sense of integrity and who are qualified and have experience in their field of expertise to run state enterprises and government portfolios. Do away with political and cadre appointees at all levels of government.
    So much of what I have written is just plain common sense, so why is it so difficult and no will to implement?

  • As I write this mid-morning, I am sure that there are many sensible comments already in the ‘pipeline’ but have not yet been moderated. So, my apologies if this, currently solitary, comment is repeating what has been said already by DM Insiders.
    An excellent analysis, Stephen, but I think that one should give Ramaphosa the benefit of the doubt. He has been entangled in the tentacles of this excuse for a Mafia style organisation masquerading as a political party i.e. the ANC. The four months delay that he is seeking is a make or break time for him. It is his final chance to rid this ‘government’ of all those who have brought South Africa to its knees. If he does not act decisively, the country will never forgive him.

  • Isn’t anyone wondering why the Hypocrite-In-Chief, Julius Malema and his EFF thugs have been so quiet since the release of the State Capture Report??
    Surely he/they would normally be thumping chests and bellowing expletives from their highly precarious perch by this time?
    Or are they also, a bit nervous?
    Did someone say VBS Bank?

  • So who chaired the “Cadre Deployment Committee” during the Zuma years? Cyril Ramaphosa…
    Frankly, the Phala-Phala debacle should not have been a surprise to us! Where there is smoke, there is fire!

  • The Alliance is probably dead in the water. What might emerge as the new and probably still largest party would be the sane part of old local UDF and exile ANC plus ActionSA. The RET / zupta faction will cause trouble but within a few years destroy itself after dating EFF. We end up with a crazy party with 20%, a 45% ‘new anc’, a 20% DA and a dozen small irrelevant parties?

  • To my mind, the ANC big wigs and cadres have heaped scorn and derision on law and order. This may be the result of the years of fighting apartheidm where the police were the enemy (and still are) and the people destroyed public property and infrastructure (and still do)! There is a whole bunch of these people who do not recognise this country’s constitution and legal system, indeed the general laws of mankind, thou shall not steal and thou shall not kill!
    Under these circomstance, our prosecuting authority has been emasculated, and none of the top politicians wants to stick his neck out and give our laws the teeth they need to stop the mayhem! The first politician that does try to stand up to the blatant criminal and anti-social acts that we witness every day will get his head chopped off, for sure!
    When one witnesses the havoc taking place in KZN and Eastern Cape, whose people incidentally make up roughly 48% of the population of this country, I cannot see peace and harmony returning to our belovedland!
    Furthermore, the prospect of fragmented minor parties forming a coalition to form a government is too far fetched. We have all witnessed how coalitions in this land have ended in disaster because of greed and egos!

  • Ramaphosa is in this muck, up to his neck. He is simply the head of a bumbling criminal syndicate. Who, in the ANC, would you want in a government of national unity. I simply cannot think of anyone. A bunch of thieves, stealing the futures of the disadvantaged they promised to uplift.

  • Zapiro’s cartoon sums up the situation perfectly, except the “normal” in “carry on as normal” should be defined as shamelessly stealing the future of poor and suffering South Africans for personal gain. The only frantic activity in the ANC is that of personal advancement. How naive to think that the ANC can self-correct, a concept akin to thinking the Titanic cannot sink. After striking the iceberg and taking on water.

    This article is largely pointless in the scheme of things, perhaps an attempt at pandering to white suburban outrage. What will the majority of the voting public make about the Zondo Report? Absolutely nothing. Suffocating apathy. Holding authority to account is just not an African concept, or people are simply too bludgeoned into numbness by their dire circumstances and daily struggles to care. Expect voter turnout to further plummet as the only positive if opposition parties can mobilize their supporters, a double edge sword though.

  • “Ramaphosa has said that he will present the response in four months’ time.”
    I can hardly believe this ! The arrogance of it.

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