President Cyril Ramaphosa insists that he has a good relationship with former presidents
Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, despite their public criticisms of his leadership recently. In reality, who is to blame for the downfall of the ANC?

By Staff Reporters

South Africans are in an unremitting state of apprehension, worrying about tomorrow because today looks gloomier than ever before. The country’s political and socio-economic conditions seem to be eroding with each passing day. This, as some have pointed out, is the result of a lack of structural changes and coexisting developments that reciprocally reinforce each other. These shortcomings have, in the past weeks, put the current president in the crosshairs. President Cyril Ramaphosa came under a volley of fire when three of his predecessors, Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, on different platforms, expressed their strong reservations about his integrity and squarely put the blame on him for the challenges plaguing South Africa’s sixth administration. Veteran journalist, struggle veteran and former South African Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe has labelled these public attacks on Ramaphosa by three former heads of state as a national disgrace on all South Africans. “Our problems have long surpassed the prevalent blame game. Actually, it is a shame on all of us that our nation continues to slide in this downward slope whilst all of us are doing nothing but find someone to blame,” Thloloe told The Telegram.
Mbeki, giving a keynote address at the annual general meeting of the Strategic Dialogue Group (SDG), said Ramaphosa was under pressure because of the Phala Phala scandal. He suggested that the ANC could not escape the inevitable conversation about his fate, saying party leaders needed to decide Ramaphosa’s future should he be impeached. “Do we say to the president he must step aside, or do we say let it continue through the parliamentary process? What is the impact of that in the public mind?” Mbeki asked. He went as far as saying the ANC was being led by criminals. “When you talk renewal of the ANC, you’re carrying too much baggage of wrong people. You have to have the courage to face that you have a renewed ANC led by criminals,” he said. At a media briefing held on the same day, Zuma accused Ramaphosa of being corrupt and kowtowing to the international community.
“Your president has committed treason,” he told a news conference in Johannesburg. “No president should conduct private business while in office. It is inconsistent with the oath of office taken by (the) president.
“Our country’s problems are too big for a president who is busy hustling on the side,” Zuma said.
Former president of South Africa, and ANC’s former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe also weighed in on Ramaphosa’s shortcomings. Motlanthe said Ramaphosa should have responded to the nation and the agencies investigating the scandal from the outset. “Second-guessing as to what happened gives rise to lots of speculation. And that’s not good for the president, the president’s image as well as the office of the presidency itself,” he said. Motlanthe became state president after Mbeki’s recall. He was succeeded by Zuma. These developments come as the ANC is preparing for its elective conference in December this year. President Ramaphosa will seek re-election as party leader, but a personal scandal could see him face an impeachment vote before the conference even takes place. The scandal was ignited by the bombshell charges laid against him on June 1, 2022, by the former national spy agency boss Arthur Fraser.
He filed a criminal complaint against Ramaphosa, accusing him of money laundering and bribery to cover up a heist at the president’s Phala Phala game farm in February 2020 where over $4m in illicit cash was allegedly stolen. Ramaphosa has since confirmed the robbery but denied any wrongdoing.
A three-person panel chaired by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo will determine whether there is prima facie evidence to institute an impeachment inquiry against Ramaphosa.
Thloloe says there is nothing statesman about the utterances of the three former heads of state.
He says these types of accusations only serve to confirm the sad reality that South Africa has become a banana republic. “Only one topic dominates discussions at every dinner table, in pubs, and all social gatherings – we all talk about how South Africa has gone to the dogs, and yet we are doing nothing about it. “In 1980, I was amongst those who were jubilant when Zimbabwe gained independence. I thought to myself, “here are the comrades who will show us the way,” today, (knowing how corruption has brought that exemplary nation to its knees), I am saddened by the realisation that we are following in the footsteps of Zimbabwe,” he said. Thloloe said it was not in the interest of the country that South Africa remains racially and economically polarised. He and the former oppressed and the former oppressors needed to cooperate in finding solutions to the country’s problems.
“It doesn’t help that others would look down on us and say, “look they thought they could govern,” because, at the rate at which we are going, we will all suffer, it is time that all South Africans do something about this situation,” he said. Thloloe is the recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver. He received this honour for his exceptional contribution to and achievement in the field of the media, literary writing and journalism; he is also a freedom fighter who is respected for his contribution to the liberation struggle and his role in the transformation of the media in post-apartheid South Africa.

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