Ramaphosa ANC lekgotla

Cyril Ramaphosa and David Mabuza cheers at an ANC event. Image via Twitter: African National Congress

Ramaphosa on ANC lekgotla: Many thought it would descend into fighting

Ramaphosa said he was ‘sorry to disappoint’ those who thought chaos would envelop the ANC meeting.

Ramaphosa ANC lekgotla

Cyril Ramaphosa and David Mabuza cheers at an ANC event. Image via Twitter: African National Congress

President Cyril Ramaphosa hit back at political naysayers during his report on the African National Congress’ (ANC) lekgotla which took place on the weekend of 18 January 2020.

South Africa’s turbulent political climate shows little signs of stabilising in in 2020, with the beginning of the year getting off to a rocky start for all major parties. It’s the ruling ANC, however, which has been faced with the staunchest of political pressures, primarily from within the organisation itself.

Ramaphosa preaches peace and unity

Factional infighting along loyalist lines is not a new characteristic of the ruling party but its prevalence is a topic which has been consistently downplayed by Ramaphosa, whose primary mandate has been to unify the ANC and heal divisions. Despite Ramaphosa espousing harmony as a revolutionary rhetoric, old battle lines, emanating from the Jacob Zuma era, continue to present stumbling blocks in the president’s path.

While the ANC remains a divided party – exemplified by recent public spats regarding policy uncertainty – Ramaphosa’s report-back on the organisation’s recent lekgotla, which is a customary gathering of senior members and political subsidiaries, paints a picture of peace and prosperity. Ramaphosa, all too aware of the public perception regarding the state of the ANC’s tumultuous affairs, said:

“Coming to this lekgotla is always enriching and uplifting.

Many had thought that this lekgotla would descend into arguments, fighting, walk outs and sit-ins and protests… I’m sorry to disappoint those who thought it would.”

Ramaphosa’s rousing rebuttal was met with loud applause from ANC members in attendance.

State owned enterprises: The thorn in the ANC’s side

Despite the president’s promises of a unified ANC, the issue of failing state owned enterprises, which in addition to posing the single biggest threat to the South African, has the propensity to reopen factional wounds and rip the ruling party asunder.

Ramaphosa reported that state owned enterprises, and the multifaceted problems which continue to embattle the likes of Eskom and SAA, were dealt with extensively during the lekgotla. This comes just weeks after deputy president David Mabuza ruffled feathers by claiming that Ramaphosa had been misled about Eskom’s operational capacity by Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan.

In addition, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has faced fierce backlash from the party for his comments regarding the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). While the ANC has noted within its policy the intention to nationalise, Mboweni has been an outspoken critic of the idea.

Both Mboweni and Gordhan have been regarded as Ramaphosa’s strongest allies in the factional battle against Zuma-loyalists still deeply embedded in the ANC.

Further discussions surrounding the consolidation of state owned enterprises will likely see a shift in Gordhan’s ministerial role.