The Prodigal Son Returns

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By Abdullah Dada

This article can also be found in the print Edition 1 of VARSITY Newspaper.


Having been pre-empted by Jacob Zuma’s resignation, the media stream across the world whirred with relief as the executive reigns were passed on to trade union leader and business man, Cyril Ramaphosa. With the majority of the country still flushed with ‘Ramaphoria’ and the liberating aftershock of Zuma’s departure, we seem to have let our post-Zuma jubilation cloud our sense of the political reality that lies before us. As a result, the question that is being avoided is whether Ramaphosa will truthfully deliver on his promises and transform the country through his leadership.

Cyril Ramaphosa. Image from

ANC president in December 2017, adds a new cover to the same book, with the same ANC party members under Zuma’s reign maintaining their positions of power and influence – along with their alleged predisposition for corruption. It is no secret that Ramaphosa brings with him the skills and mind-set of a successful businessman. There does exist a distinct relationship between economics and politics. Ramaphosa’s been implicated in a number of controversial dealings ranging from the MTN Irancell scandal, involving the bribing of Iranian officials, to illegally benefiting from coal deals between Eskom and his joint venture with Anglo-Swiss Company, Glencore. However, the most questionable of these dealings rests on his role as a non-executive director of Lonmin, and thereby his involvement in the Marikana Massacre. The executive called for “concomitant action” from the police force to be taken against striking Marikana miners, which led to the death of 34 miners.


Alas, the ANC and Ramaphosa are not mutually exclusive and do inevitably act as one, as his decisions are harnessed by his party’s ‘oversight’. Since its seminal years, the ANC’s reputation as an elitist party has operated under the guise of ‘preaching for the people’, yet ultimately acting within the interest of the private sector.


It had always been the case, as Fanon theorized, that the national elite replaces the colonial elite in transitional African democracies. Therefore, the fact of the matter is that the overall structure of government and the country’s efficiency will not see a drastic change post-Zuma. The only transformation that has occurred is that now Cyril has a larger minority support over Zuma. The pro-Ramaphosa supporters look at the recent strengthening of the South African Rand against the US Dollar as signs of a bright economic future since Ramaphosa’s election, without considering the very real fact that over the past month, the US dollar has lost value across most foreign currencies (barring the GB Pound which continues its steady decline). Investor confidence has little to do with the recent strengthening of the Rand, it is simply the result of the actions within the US market. To sum up, South Africa’s socio-economic situation will not see drastic change from Zuma to Ramaphosa’s political dispensation. The party’s decisions will still primarily focus on its own interests, as they always have.

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