Oliver Tambo, the late ANC president, (who always preferred to be known as acting president as a sign of respect for imprisoned Nelson Mandela) once warned the ANC about the dangers of power and how people would turn against the state as they demand services: “Comrades, you might think that it is very difficult to wage a liberation struggle. Wait until you are in power. I might be dead by then. At that stage, you will realise that it is actually more difficult to keep the power than to wage a liberation war. People will be expecting a lot of...
Oliver Tambo, the late ANC president, (who always preferred to be known as acting president as a sign of respect for imprisoned Nelson Mandela) once warned the ANC about the dangers of power and how people would turn against the state as they demand services:

“Comrades, you might think that it is very difficult to wage a liberation struggle. Wait until you are in power. I might be dead by then. At that stage, you will realise that it is actually more difficult to keep the power than to wage a liberation war. People will be expecting a lot of services from you. You will have to satisfy the various demands of the masses of our people…”

It’s nearly 27 years since Tambo died, on the eve of our freedom, and he seemed to have a premonition about what was going to happen when the ANC was in power.

Indeed our country is in crisis, politically and economically. At the centre of it all are Eskom and South African Airways – the two children in the family of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that refused to come out of the sick bed.

The two SOEs are a financial drain and liability to taxpayers, who have to frequently dig deeper into their pockets to save them. The entities are dragging everybody down.

We are reaping the fruits of state capture that ran amok during the “nine wasted years” – the period in which the state was being ravaged by merciless corruption vultures, who were hellbent on pursuing a selfish agenda to denude our country of every resource it had. By the time everybody woke up, it was too late and the damage was done – the kitty was empty.

Now, Eskom and SAA are threatening to derail a great mega project led by Cyril Ramaphosa to put this country back on track to socioeconomic stability and prosperity. Potential investors withhold their money because Eskom’s load shedding does not give them hope things will improve soon. Who can blame them?

Ramaphosa is faced with the mammoth task of restoring people’s hope, but there are many odds against him.

He must revive the state’s capacity to deliver – a promise made by ANC forebears at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955. But the conditions have changed from when the Freedom Charter was launched and everybody spoke with one voice. There are many contradictions within the ANC, brought about by the attainment of state power, something that Tambo alluded to.

Many want Ramaphosa to be more decisive: taking tangible action such as jailing the thieves. But it’s not easy.

Ramaphosa is constrained because in our democracy, any interference in the criminal justice system is a no-no. He cannot instruct the NPA to prosecute individuals mentioned in the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture without causing a constitutional crisis.

Perhaps we expected too much from Ramaphosa. Maybe we must first answer the question that then-imprisoned John the Baptist asked Jesus: is Ramaphosa the messiah we had been waiting for, or should we expect someone else?

Ramaphosa is yet to show us that under him the blind can see, the lame can walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf can hear and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

Not that we expect supernatural miracles from him.

Perhaps his task is merely to stop Pharaoh, while the real Moses is still coming to take us to the land of milk and honey.

We might be expecting too much from Ramaphosa_1

Eric Naki

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.