It may well be that, as citizens of our beautiful democratic South Africa, we demand more of the president than he is delivering, and justifiably so. But the truth be told, since the advent of our democracy in 1994, President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken more swift, concrete decisions within the Western system’s “magical” 100-day period of assuming office than any one of us could have done under the same prevailing political conditions.
I am not a fan of this alien 100-days measurement period for any politician’s assumption of office. It isn’t in line with any reporting accountability time frames we prescribe for ourselves.
But sticking to the alien 100-day yardstick, a cursory look at what the president has achieved thus far even before the expiry of his 100 days as chief executive, South Africa Inc reveals that he ticks many boxes.
Shortly after being sworn in, he reshuffled 10 ministers of government departments. He did so carefully, amid gripes for leaving some ministers in the Cabinet and disappointing other sections of our citizenry. It was a bold step.
Instituting a disciplinary hearing against South African Revenue Services commissioner Tom Moyane was one of his boldest moves, which indicated to me that, at all times, the president attempts to do good for South Africa. Charging Moyane is a case in point. The president and the commissioner have much in common, which, for an average person like me, would have made it extremely difficult to charge the commissioner.
Ramaphosa and Moyane grew up in Chiawelo, Soweto. They went to the same high school in Senaoane: Sekano-Ntoane Secondary School. They went to the same tertiary institution, then called the University of the North, commonly known as Turfloop or Sovenga at the time. The university, in terms of apartheid architecture, was set up to serve Sotho-, Venda- and Tsonga-speaking students in the main.
With all these commonalities, it must have been one of the most difficult decisions for the president to take, to suspend someone he has known from his youth — hence my thesis that the president wants to do good for SA Inc.
Just last month Arthur Fraser, the director general of the State Security Agency (SSA), and the inspector general of intelligence, Setlhomamaru Dintwe, were at each other’s throats, litigating against each other in what I could call a turf war, threatening the stability of the operations of our state intelligence community (the “spooks”). The president intervened by removing Fraser from the SSA and replacing him with a capable state security intelligence guru, Loyiso Jafta, in the acting director general role.
To many this may have been perceived as an inconsequential box to tick but the reality is that SSA is a cog department and it is essential in our democratic SA Inc for this department to thrive without fear of security breaches, which may visit us if this department is unstable. There are those who, with merit, believe that the president ought not to have moved Fraser to the department of correctional services as commissioner. But the point is that the president tries to act swiftly whenever possible.
A number of our state-owned enterprises, to wit, Eskom, Denel, SAA and Transnet, among others, are in dire straits. They require one form of surgery or another, whether at board or operational level.
We know that Eskom has a new board chaired by Jabu Mabuza, who detests corruption.
The former premier of the troubled North West province, Popo Molefe, has been appointed as the interim chair of Transnet. Molefe will be remembered inter alia for his anti-corruption stance when he was the chair of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board. He actually brought an application in court, if my memory serves me, to compel the Hawks to investigate the corruption at Prasa.
When the ANC resolved at its elective conference at Nasrec in December 2017 that there would be free education for tertiary students, many doubting Thomases said that resolution was going to be a difficult one to concretise. The reality is, it is happening. (There may be a few hiccups here and there.)
Land expropriation without compensation was another albatross hanging around the president’s neck. For me, it is neither here nor there which party claims to be the sponsor of this motion in Parliament, the fact is, serious engagements across a broad spectrum of our communities are taking place.
There are those who believe that section 25 of our Constitution is a hindrance to achieving this objective. I have a view on whether it is or isn’t. The truth is, under the president’s watch, land expropriation will happen within the legally permissible constitutional prescripts.
Some problems, in terms of politics, are more complex to resolve promptly. Of course, as citizens, we want them resolved yesterday, not today. For instance, it is most unfortunate what is happening in North West. And one death is one too many in KwaZulu-Natal.
We yearn for the cessation of intolerant murders, whether in KwaZulu-Natal or elsewhere in other parts of South Africa, for political reasons (if the narrative in the public domain is true). As the chief executive of SA Inc, the president has to see to it that all these problems facing us are no more.
For a president who was elected in February this year, he has positively ticked many boxes in a shorter time than the allocated so-called 100-day timeframe.
Mahlodi Sam Muofhe is an advocate in private practice, specialising in human rights