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Dear Comrade President Cyril Ramaphosa, let’s talk frankly…

I am heartened that you have finally decided to give the media some time to engage with you. One hopes that this will be a regular occurrence and not just a parade before an election. The country can benefit from your eloquent articulation of the policies of the ANC. Given that the media was allowed to ask you only four questions, I thought it may well be apposite to deposit a few more cents for your thoughts in your in-tray as you shuttle from one rally to the next over the next few months convincing people to vote for the ANC.

Let’s start with the State Capture Report. It’s been one year since the release of the final report and it’s worth reminding you that a few of your cabinet members have been mentioned in the report in a very bad light. You claimed at the media briefing that some are “taking the report on review”. This possibly refers to Gwede Mantashe, Zizi Kodwa, Nomvula Mokonyane, and Thabang Makwetla? There is no evidence that these comrades in your arms have taken this report on review. Which means the adverse findings against them stand a year later and no action has been taken by you to hand out any kind of consequences against them. This, Mr President, does not show you as being serious about stamping out corruption even where you hold sway. Instead, you have promoted my friend Zizi Kodwa to a full minister despite his admission of dishing out patronage to the likes of EOH. Equally, no one expects you to act against Gwede Mantashe who protected you from your Phala Phala woes at the NEC and at the recent ANC National Conference. An unmitigated case of scratching each other’s backs. Meanwhile, the public is none the wiser about Mantashe’s explanation about free security upgrades at his home by Bosasa. Thabang Makwetla, who is in the defence ministry, is yet to explain his nefarious association with the Bosasa crowd as well. The so-called “taking the report on review” is clearly just delay tactics until election season is over. Your assertion that “processes must be followed” is equally hollow and a blue lie to the public. Quite frankly, there is little or no processes you have initiated to reprimand these comrades.

It was interesting that you claimed to be shocked that there was wide scale theft during COVID-19 by your own comrades. Yet you praised Zweli Mkhize instead of firing him for letting your government down. He is yet to answer fully, even to the ANC’s Integrity Committee. It would help if your hand knew what Fikile Mbalula’s hand was doing in that a day before you graced us with your rare presence as the media, your Secretary General lamented that some of those mentioned in the State Capture Report have not even bothered to appear before your party’s Integrity Commission. Therefore, I’m not sure about what on earth you mean in terms of “processes must be followed”. Clearly the thieves of state capture are defying you.

Mbalula has also volunteered the information that your nemesis, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and the other four defiant MPs who think you have a case to answer are headed for the Disciplinary Committee of the ANC. Funny, cause his own deputy, Nomvula Mokonyane, is yet to explain her chicken feet and whisky gifts from Bosasa yet he, like you, are mum about that.

The conclusion is a simple one. There is no seriousness about tackling your allies in cabinet who have been exposed by Judge Zondo as rotten to the core.

You must be very happy with the pseudo Public Protector’s so-called clearance and the captured Reserve Bank’s non-finding against you. You have really consolidated your fear factor power. Who would have imagined that a 6 000-strong national conference wouldn’t so much as mention your buffaloes and just turn a blind eye to the whole dollars-in-sofas saga? Well done on that. Many who thought you were politically weak must now think again. You can now go ahead and appoint a Public Protector who will never point a finger your way. The voting fodder led by comrade Majodini in Parliament has already done the ground work by lining up weak candidates to contest Qalata, and so we are left with the lowest common denominator…

Well done on a successful 15th BRICS Summit and on adding a few more international black sheep to that group of nations. This should endear you very much to the East and further irritate the West. How you manage to do this—eat your BRICS cake—and keep your ALGOA cake is a masterstroke in international brinkmanship. Not surprised to hear about the Lady R saga this should shut up your Western sceptics and send the bow tied American non-diplomat packing…

It’s a pity this diplomatic success is only reserved for the East and the West, while with your immediate neighbours you are missing in action. Zimbabwe has just experienced another sham election and your best foot forward was to congratulate the fossils in Zanu PF despite observers from your own SADC questioning the results. But I suppose the friendship with Zanu PF is more important to you than bothering with the facts and celebrating that at least there was no post-election violence.

It was interesting to see you fraternising with the unclothed King of Eswatini. It made me miss your days as a NUM General Secretary when you condemned the same King for being allergic to democracy. Similarly, unlike your 10-point grains and seeds plan for Russia, there is no plan to intervene in Sudan nor any appetite to condemn the coups that are becoming the norm in the hinterland of sub-Saharan Africa. Talk about the abandoning of African renaissance.

Speaking of which, the father of African Renaissance, President Thabo Mbeki, recently denied that his government ignored the advice from Eskom to build more electricity infrastructure. He said this was a “cooked up story”. You wasted no time on Saturday to contradict him directly by saying that “this has been admitted that we didn’t listen to advice”. Not sure you were briefed about what he said at UNISA just last week or you were just being truthful?

It may be worth your while to coordinate effort with your predecessors. His recent letter to the ANC suggests that he may well want you out. He, like most of society, thinks that the ANC abused its majority in Parliament to protect you from the Phala Phala scandal, the same exact way they protected Zuma over Nkandla. As if that is not enough, he is non-committal about whether he will campaign for the ANC, leaving you with Zuma to beg to help you campaign between him trying to privately prosecute you, so you can be made to step aside. Your hands are full, Mr President.

As I am speaking to you we are on Stage 6 loadshedding and you believe that your Minister of Electricity is doing very well? How the standards have fallen! The threat to stop loadshedding continues and we hope that the looming elections will make such a threat materialise fast. We are also relieved that you believe that the three ministers are “working close together”. It slipped our minds to ask you to comment on why Gwede Mantashe didn’t pitch up to sign an energy deal when you were hosting two heads of state who were offering to help. But please forgive us, because when you give us two minutes in six months to ask you questions, we can’t possibly remember everything.

But maybe you can look into why the Karpowership that can remove one stage of loadshedding is stalled despite Mbalula signing off on it months ago. It is rumoured that friends of your Electricity Minister are insisting on a piece of that BEE action before we can all benefit. But then again it may well be just malicious gossip. Finally, it was good to see you and your ministers descending on the Joburg CBD the other day to sympathise with the injured and the bereaved. It was also very good to hear you apportion blame to everyone for the tragedy. We need leaders who can see their faults. It really reminds me of your promises to build one million houses in Alexandra before the last elections. You may want to ask your Minster of Human Settlements how many houses were built there since your motorcade meandered the rat-infested streets of Alexandra. It may help the public have confidence that you will indeed do something about the hijacked buildings of Johannesburg. My information is that since you made that promise in 2019, not even one house has been built in Alex. This may well be the result of the apartheid spatial planning legacy preventing your government from keeping its promises…

At your own admission, you have managed to keep about 25% of your manifesto promises. This is a humbling admission, but it’s the same admission that came out of the diagnosis reports of 2007 and 2017, stating all sorts of rot within the ruling party. What is missing is action. But maybe what is missing is a worry about the voters’ retribution? Something you don’t seem to be too worried about. Your view that the victory of the ANC is guaranteed as a landslide in the upcoming polls is a little overconfident, a suggestion that you may well know something all of us don’t know. Such a victory will defy all trends (such as the ANC’s disastrous performance at the 2021 poll), and all evidence of 30-year-long failure to serve the people diligently. All predictions show the ANC falling under 50%. This, however, may explain why you congratulated Zanu PF so fast on their sham election. Maybe they have already written their congratulations to you for next year’s “guaranteed victory”?

Yours frankly,

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane

By Editor