Cyril Ramaphosa

Former trade union boss Cyril Ramaphosa has been sworn in as president of South Africa following an intense battle within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) which led to the ousting of Jacob Zuma who had held the presidency since 2009.

The move against Zuma was set in motion last December when Ramaphosa won a closely fought struggle within the ANC to become its leader, narrowly defeating the candidate favoured by Zuma.

The campaign against Zuma, waged on the basis of “corruption”, has now seen the elevation of one of the richest men in South Africa to the top position. It is the incarnation of “black economic empowerment,” installed after the dismantling of apartheid, which has benefited a thin layer of black businessman, enriched at the expense of the South African masses who are experiencing worsening social conditions.

The campaign to remove Zuma, which has enjoyed the backing of major international financial and business interests, has been motivated by two concerns.

The first is that the activities of a network of Zuma cronies has impacted adversely on other business interests, both domestic and international. During the course of his campaign, Ramaphosa emphasised that corruption was a barrier to international capital investment in the country.

The second is the growing concern that under Zuma, the ANC, which has played the key role in maintaining the stability of capitalist rule in post-apartheid South Africa, is losing support in the face of growing hostility and discontent in the working class and oppressed masses.

In local elections held last August, it lost control of Johannesburg, the commercial centre, in the capital Pretoria, and most significantly in Port Elizabeth, which is an industrial city, with its vote falling to close to 50 percent for the first time since it came to power in 1994.

Financial markets welcomed the new regime. The Johannesburg stock market surged more than 3 percent on the news, and the rand hit a three-year high against the US dollar on the basis of “hopes” as the Financial Times put it, that “Mr Ramaphosa would now begin the work of reviving the broken economy.” In other words, that his elevation to the presidency would create a more favourable environment for the business and financial interests for which this newspaper speaks.

Ramaphosa’s campaign was laced with references to the need to tackle unemployment and poverty in an attempt to curry favour with the masses, but he will act in the interests of the forces he has always represented.

Pointing to some of the conflicts which led to Zuma’s ouster, he cited corruption and questions concerning “how we can straighten out our state-owned enterprises” and deal with “state capture”, that is, influence peddling.

Ramaphosa is set to deliver a state of the nation address this evening in which he will set out the agenda of the government before bringing down a budget next week. He is also likely to move against ministers appointed by Zuma. On the day of his accession a so-called anti-corruption unit raided the Johannesburg home of the Gupta family which has been accused of using its relationship with Zuma to influence government affairs.

The anti-corruption campaign has nothing to do with improving the conditions of the working population but is being waged on behalf of one section of the ruling elites, along with their international allies, who have been disadvantaged by others because of their close ties with Zuma.

In the installation of Ramaphosa, the South African bourgeoisie is placing in power a tried and trusted pair of hands.

Ramaphosa began his political career as the head of South Africa’s largest trade union, the National Union of Mineworkers, and was elected general secretary of the ANC in 1991.

This was a period of sharp transition. Key sections of South African and international capital recognised that the apartheid regime and its system of regulations was no longer viable under conditions of economic globalisation and that changes were necessary.

Moreover, there was a growing fear that under conditions of a rising movement of the working class, which threatened to explode into a revolutionary struggle, the very stability of capitalist rule was under direct threat. Hence it was necessary to carry out a change from above in order to head off an explosion from below.

The decision was taken to organise regime change and bring the ANC to power, while ensuring the enrichment of a tiny upper layer of a black capitalist class.

This program was implemented above all through the leadership of the ANC under Nelson Mandela with the crucial support of the Stalinist South African Communist Party which threw its full support behind “black economic empowerment.”

The role played by the ANC represented the consummation of its program, explicitly based on the Stalinist two-stage theory, renouncing the introduction of socialism and maintaining that a non-European black bourgeoisie had to come to power.

Within the ANC, Ramaphosa played a central role in this political operation and has been richly rewarded for his services, becoming one of the wealthiest men in post-apartheid South Africa with a net worth estimated at $675 million. He is a former chairman of the South African telecom giant MTN and has interests in corporations and banks in the country and internationally.

The class role of Ramaphosa, as well as the ANC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the National Mineworkers, was written in blood in August 2012 when he played a direct part in the events that led to the massacre of striking mineworkers at the Lonmin mines in Marikana.

At the time, Ramaphosa held a 9 percent share in Marikana and demanded that the authorities take action against what he called the “plainly dastardly criminal acts” of the strikers—a call that was carried out when security forces gunned down the strikers, killing 34 and wounding 78 others.

A whitewash inquiry, the Farlam Commission, organised under president Zuma, cleared Ramaphosa and other political leaders of any responsibility for the killings.

The elevation to the presidency of Ramaphosa, the consummate representative of “black economic empowerment” and its backers in international finance capital, further underscores the necessity of the South African working class breaking completely from the ANC and its capitalist program and undertaking the task of constructing a revolutionary socialist party if it is to achieve its emancipation.

Originally published by WSWS.org


Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B. Subscribe to our Telegram channel


GET COUNTERCURRENTS DAILY NEWSLETTER STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX


4 Comments

  1. Thanks to Nick Beams for informative piece on political developments in SA. Many people outside SA specially in India do not know that most of Zuma’s corrupt deals/acts were undertaken to facilitate an Indian family of GUPTHAS (originally from western UP) which subsequently led to take over of SA by GUPTHAS and their South African henchmen/women. Zuma’s son was on their pay roll and so were many ministers and high ranking official. Zuma handed over production of armaments, power and mining to them or their proxies. They were even allowed to use the highly secured air force stations for personal use. It may be noted that when NDTV of India was under attack of the Modi government, according to press reports, GUPTHAS tried that Ramdev should take control of it which it was alleged they were willing to finance. Ramdev has been a darling of the GUPTHAS.
    The new president of SA, Ramaphosa who started as a militant trade unionist may not prove to be better than Zuma. He played a direct part in the events that led to the massacre of striking mineworkers at the Lonmin mines in Marikana in August 2012. Since Zuma had lost credibility, his patronage was withdrawn by the World Capital. Ramaphosa is acceptable to them, a signal for continuation of bad times for the people of SA.

  2. K SHESHU Babu says:

    South African politics is deviating from the values set by Mandela and martyrs of freedom struggle. Anc has become a hub of corrupt politicians

  3. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Only a mass movement will restore political values in South Africa

  4. samir sardana says:

    WHO DOOMED ZUMA AND HOW ?

    IT WAS THE INDIAN GUPTA VERMIN !

    The world has to learn from the experience of the Gujarati/Marwari Bania loot of South Africa – via the Gupta Mishtan Bhandar Model.

    FRAUD IS IN THE INDIAN DNA !

    Guptas are a race of Banias/Marwaris.They have the same Modus Operandi,in India.They have bankrupted all the State owned banks and STC and MMTC.

    Their skill lies in Political Management – which is a euphemism for BRIBERY. They provide the term loan and working capital loans,for politicians and their rallies/campaigns.They are also the custodians of the black money of Indian Politicians – which is rotated in real estate,smuggling, drugs, entertainment, bollywood,Switzerland and the stock market (on the name of the Banias).

    These Banias do NOT do any Knowledge capital business.They only do businesses, where the ONLY USP of success,is “Political Management”

    The same Modus Operandi,is used by the Guptas in South Africa.

    Their business operation is STRATEGIC SERVICES in PROCUREMENT – which involves brokering and consulting on PROCUREMENTS BY STATE OWNED ENTITIES – like Transnet, OR businesses with subsidies and grants – LIKE THE MILK DAIRY BUSINESS OF THE GUPTAS,OR Resources – as in the Mining venture,of the Guptas (where you pay a bribe,and get a Gold concession, for the price of a coal concession) and STRATEGIC CONSULTING, wherein they conned SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS, TO GIVE UP THE INDIA ROUTE IN THEIR FAVOUR

    The CRUX in all of the above,is that the COUNTERPARTY is the STATE and the STATE IS UNDER THE THUMB OF THE POLITCIAN AND THE HAND OF THE POLITCIAN (WHICH HAS THE THUMB),is in the POCKET of the GUPTAS.dindooohindoo

    As an extension of their STRATEGIC SOURCING,STRATEGIC CONSULTING, THEY ALSO DO STRATEGIC PLACEMENTS – wherein they place politcians as key pointmen in Ministries,and also,have their men in key posts,in Global Audit and Consulting firms

    That is Y there is no Interpol RCN,on the Guptas,and they are plonked pretty, in Dubai.All the money is already transferred out of South Africa, and the immovable assets left behind in South Africa – were left WITH THE INTENT,To be seized by the state.

    Of Course,the Guptas also left behind Zuma – and the Zondo commission,is playing the Bongo,and is clueless.