PARLIAMENT – DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to part with factions in the ANC that were opposed to policy and structural reform, and to instead assemble a progressive coalition to govern South Africa.
Hill-Lewis, in the parliamentary debate on Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address (SONA), said the president had made so many unwise concessions in his bid to keep the ruling party united behind him that he seemed like a leader in retreat.
Hence, he had b ecome known for promising far-reaching reforms, and did so again last week in his SONA, but these never materialised.
“The president promises major reform, the treasury supports major reform, the official opposition supports major reform, the country wants major reform. So here is the very curious thing: Where is the major reform? We have been promised it. But we do not have it,” he said.
Hill-Lewis said the fault line of Ramaphosa’s presidency was his quest for consensus. Yet there was wide consensus in the country as to which crises it faced and how these could be solved, but the agreement the president actually sought was within the divergent factions of the ruling party.
“The truth is, he means ‘ANC consensus’,” he said.
“There are still many state capture looters in his own party that are fighting him and fighting his reform agenda. They brandish the language of the loony left, but they are rapacious, corrupt and hell-bent on winning back control of state resources…. Why, sir, are you interested in building consensus with these enemies of growth?”
Hill-Lewis, who is the DA’s spokesman on finance, said Ramaphosa’s capitulation was evident in his support for a proposal from the Congress of South African Trade Unions, aligned to the ruling party, to use the pension funds of government employees to reduce Eskom’s debt by R254 billion.
“This is a disgrace, and you should have ruled it out explicitly. But you didn’t. You said you would mobilise funding ‘without putting pensions at risk’. What you mean is that you will take their pension money, and then ‘guarantee’ the value of the pension later.”
He added that Ramaphosa’s repeated concessions to within the ruling party made him look like a leader in retreat and urged him to break away and join forces with like-minded politicians outside the ANC.
“If you want to build a consensus that really matters – one that can fix what is wrong with our country – you need to look beyond your own party. There are enough people in this house who are committed to the reforms we need. They’re just not all on your benches. If you reach out, you can build this majority.”
MPs in the DA have privately said they would work with Ramaphosa and a section of the ANC if the party split, but Hill-Lewis is the first senior member of the party to plainly float this idea in public.
African News Agency