Cyril Ramaphosa’s big task

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa.
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

The Africa National Congress’ [ANC] candidate in South Africa’s May 8 presidential election, President Cyril Ramaphosa, is due to be sworn-in for a fresh five-year tenure on Saturday, May 25. Ramaphosa replaced Jacob Zuma who fell from power on account of scandals and corruption charges in 2018. Now he has won his own election, giving him a much-needed legitimacy to lead the country.

But that election lacked the enthusiasm and excitement which were characteristic of previous South African elections. ANC also got its lowest share of the vote since the end of apartheid. The reason for this is not far-fetched: majority of South Africans have been disappointed by serial corruption and dwindling hope for a better standard of living. From the above, it is clear that Ramaphosa’s task has been clearly defined. The corruption that tainted the regime of former President Jacob Zuma from 2009 to 2018 affected not only the presidency, but also the integrity of the ruling party. Its leaders had their hands soiled in corruption. Contracts were inflated, budgetary allocations were released but projects not executed, outright nepotism, and shameless scandals defaced the integrity of one ANC official after another.


Significantly, the country has not overcome the corruption in the public sector, especially those involving the Gupta’s, who infiltrated state-owned enterprises, especially Eskom of the energy sector. The Indians seduced government officials and party leaders who were implicated in the web of bribery popularly tagged ‘state capture.’ Initial probes proved that ANC officials were involved in the corruption, but the justice system in South Africa has not brought many of those suspected to have a hand in the scandals to book.

Perhaps, this is a major challenge to Ramaphosa who had acknowledged that party officials were not innocent in the ‘state capture’.  If those suspected to be involved in the abuse of power are not investigated and brought to justice, it is certain that corruption will continue to thrive even under the incoming administration. Therefore, the first step in restoring hope in South Africa is the cleansing of the party that produces the leadership. Ramaphosa would need a lot of courage to be able to sweep ANC clean.

Also, in the next five years, the president faces a tough challenge in dealing with the endemic unemployment, poverty among the black community, dwindling Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inequality and frustration among South African youths which exposes them to drug abuse. In 2018, South Africa, a previously strong economy on the continent, dropped into recession, and it has been struggling to step up out of it. Ramaphosa faces the challenge of lifting the economy in order to generate employment and improve on the quality of life of the people.

In this atmosphere of frustration in South Africa, citizens have continued to vent their anger on other Africans in what is known as xenophobia. Dozens of Nigerians have been killed, their businesses looted and homes destroyed in the spirit of xenophobia. This is contrary to the concept of African brotherhood. As Ramaphosa has got his indisputable legitimacy through his victory at the polls, he has to deal with the crime of xenophobia. South Africans should learn to drag other African nationals who violate the country’s laws before the judiciary instead of lynching or shooting them to death.

All hope is not lost, however, as Ramaphosa is known to be a genuine anti-apartheid hero, internationally renowned trade union leader, high-profile businessman, skilled negotiator and senior official in the ANC who is familiar with all the issues facing the party. Those who know him so well say he is very patient, strategic in thinking, very tactical, an adherent of constitutionalism, and one who had been yearning to lead the country since the end of Apartheid. We encourage him to ensure that he shows the commitment to reform South Africa and save if from economic regression, youth unemployment and other malaise that characterise today’s South Africa.


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