“Ramaphosa is no architect of radical economic transformation”

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Sello Theletsane

President Cyril Ramaphosa has been accused of hijacking ANC conference resolution and making it his own initiative to change Section 25 of the Constitution in order to expropriate land without compensation. In an unprecedented move, Ramaphosa went public on Tuesday after the ANC national executive committee(NEC) lekgotla and announced that the ANC would support an amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to “explicitly” expropriate land without compensation. Usually, it is the role of the ANC Secretary-General to announce outcomes of the ANC NEC lekgotla.

In his statement, Ramaphosa was at pains trying to justify the unusual move, saying, “we thought that it was important for the president of the ANC to clearly and unambiguously articulate the position of the organisation on two matters that are critical to the economic development of our country and the well-being of its people.”

Ramaphosa added: “The lekgotla reaffirmed its position that a comprehensive land reform programme that enables equitable access to land will unlock economic growth, by bringing more land in South Africa to full use, and enable the productive participation of millions more South Africans in the economy. Accordingly, the ANC will, through the parliamentary process, finalise a proposed amendment to the Constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected.”

But some NEC members who spoke to Africa news 24-7 said the voices of the pro-Jacob Zuma forces inside and outside the ANC on land expropriation without compensation have become overwhelming and are gathering massive support from the masses, and Zuma, having championed these policies during his presidency is seen as the leader of these voices. One NEC member said Ramaphosa was very uncomfortable with this as it exposes him as the president who has the interests of white monopoly capital at heart and not those of ordinary South Africans.

“Instead of allowing the ANC to lead on its own conference resolutions, Ramaphosa is trying to fool the masses by portraying himself as the architect of these radical policies when everyone knows he is not. This can be seen by efforts to privatise state-owned entities and the speedy manner with which the renewable energy deals with independent power producers(IPPs) were signed to benefit his companies, his family members, his close associates and white companies, some of which are foreign-based.

Another NEC member who also did not want to be identified said it was “quite strange that Ramaphosa, immediately after the ANC NEC Lekgotla rushed to the media to brief them about the Lekgotla decision to amend Section 25 of the Constitution in order to remove the restrictions it places on the exploration of land without compensation.” The member said he found it even more puzzling that Deputy Minister of Finance, Mondle Gungubele, a known Ramaphosa supporter also went to the media talking about the investment incentive package that the Lekgotla agreed on.

He said all this was done before the official NEC Lekgotla press conference that was due to be addressed by the ANC secretary general Ace Magashule today as per ANC tradition. “Having been dragged screaming and shouting by radical economic transformation forces inside and outside the ANC, and the overwhelming public opinion in favour of changing Section 25 of the Constitution in order to expropriate land without compensation, these guys now want to act as if this was their initiative.”

“They are disingenuous and expedient. But we are not stupid – we know that they were pushed to do this and did not lead on it. It was Jacob Zuma and the radical economic transformation forces inside and outside the ANC who did the hard work to achieve this breakthrough. We will continue to watch them so that they do not try to subvert this important decision,” said the NEC member.