Ramaphosa now much stronger
Where does the Ramaphosa presidency stand in the aftermath of the violence and looting? The Zuma faction inhibited Ramaphosa's manouevering room as deputy president and it continued after his election as president. That faction has now been largely defeated.
The efforts to weaken his presidency through instigation of violence and looting have failed. Zuma lost influence – even among his traditional power base in KwaZulu-Natal. Julius Malema, who also has been using every opportunity to weaken Ramaphosa's position, especially around Marikana, overplayed his hand by openly siding with Zuma in his typical opportunistic style. Zuma's defeat rubs off on him.
Ramaphosa's position is now stronger than ever before. He consolidated his position and key positions in the cabinet now reflect his handwriting. Civil society read the signs early on, long before the violence and looting started, and took a stand against corruption and the undermining of our constitution.
Under the banner of Defend our Democracy (DoD), a movement supported by more than 300 civil society organisations, including the Group of 10, launched various protest actions to create a broad awareness and to mobilise civil society. DoD is inclusive and not organised on party-political lines.
Civil society is coming together across the country and has become a factor to be reckoned with going forward. There is still much work to be done to address inequality and poverty in our country. As long as that continues, instigators and ruthless political opportunists will always find an audience.
In a divided and diverse country like SA, it is unrealistic to expect that government alone can magically eliminate backlogs, inequality and division. The involvement of civil society is essential given the magnitude of our challenges.
As tragic as it is, the recent violence and looting served as an eye-opener and created an awareness over a broad spectrum. The dark cloud that has been hanging over our country for a long time, proved to have a silver lining in the end.
Dawie Jacobs, Sterrewag, Pretoria
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