Moving beyond the Faustian pact

I was in Paris when contacted by the media on the admission by Helen Zille that there had been collusion between some in the ANC and some in the Democratic Alliance to undermine and eventually bring to an end the ANC government I was part of as premier in the Western Cape. My immediate emotion was not surprise but relief, with a touch of vindication, unfortunately.

Since then I have tried to understand why the premier and DA leader would have chosen to expose her interlocutors in the ANC: either she believes she has achieved her objectives in the Western Cape and thoroughly vanquished the ANC in the Western Cape or she is trying to get rid of the monkey on the DA’s back that acts with the entitlement of one who gave the DA victory.

Whatever the motivation, the admission by Zille explains a lot and gives an insight into the effect of the Faustian pact between some in the ANC and the DA. It explains why it was more important for that ANC to use its few months in power to drive investigations and reports to try to thoroughly kill all remnants of those they replaced rather than govern—with loud cheers and commendations from the DA.

It explains how the Faustian pact prevented an effective election campaign based on the many delivery achievements, resulting in a worse defeat than in 1994. Hopefully, with Zille now exploding the Faustian pact, the ANC in the legislature is freed up to become an opposition without the winks and nods, the notes and docs, that crossed the floor.

It is interesting that the exposure of the collusion by one of the partners to it has led to the self-diagnosis of such action as being “like treason”. We are being asked to accept the innocence of “ANC cadres” based on the almost century-long understanding that colluding with the opposition against your own is a line that a cadre will not cross unless tortured to do so.

Maybe we acted with undue sensitivity to the weight of such an accusation being made publicly—even when the choreography of the ad hoc committee’s formation against the premier was apparent, even when it was clear that tax and salary information could only have gone to the opposition by a member of Cabinet and even when knowing of a PA’s confession.

What is sad is that even today, at a hint of continuing good delivery programmes that will undercut the pathologies in the 27 poorest areas and the 109 dysfunctional schools, the ANC partners to the Faustian pact want to hold their DA counterparts accountable to the terms of the pact. This is a betrayal of the citizens of the province who need delivery irrespective of where it originated.

It is disingenuous that, having acted as members of the Faustian pact, and being completely outmanoeuvred by your partners in that pact, you then blame electoral rejection on a coloured constituency that was “never really ... in our fold”. Look at 1999 and 2004 and you’ll see that the foundations were in place to win trust.

I have no ambitions of ANC leadership in the Western Cape and I am learning my lessons, going through my atonement and getting on with my life. I can only hope that the ANC partners to the Faustian pact will interpret Zille’s explosion of the pact as a freedom to become good, autonomous cadres again, to become an effective opposition again, and to start again to get the basics in place to win the province back. All in this province need an ANC to free them from their fears and to hold their hands as we, slowly but surely, embark on a journey to reconstruct the lives of all citizens of this province.

Former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool is an MP. This is his response to last week’s M&G story “Skwatsha denies ‘treasonous’ leak”

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