ATTACKING the African National Congress (ANC) under former President Jacob Zuma had become such an easy thing to do that the Democratic Alliance (DA) was caught napping when President Cyril Ramaphosa came into power.
Buoyed by a litany of corruption scandals and a media that had decided to take sides in telling the story, and made it their business to get rid of Zuma, DA’s Mmusi Maimane’s immaturity in politics came to the fore when Ramaphosa took over.
The young and inexperienced leader could not read the political environment – that Ramaphosa had long been groomed by white monopoly capital and his funders were highly likely the same people who funded the DA. Waving pieces of paper and reading letters from the allegedly corrupt Bosasa to tarnish the “clean” Ramaphosa wasnt going to work – for the funders and the DA.
It is the affidavit from Bosasa’s former auditor that Maimane used as a question in parliament last year that led to the acrimonious relationship between the President and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and the damning finding that Ramaphosa had misled parliament on the donation of the R500,000. It was Maimane who lodged the complaint and somewhere in it he also brought up issues of possible money laundering by the President’s CR17 election campaign for the presidency of the ANC.
Through that investigation, the PP also investigated bank records of the CR17 campaign which exposed the millions of rands spent on the President’s ascendancy to the ANC leadership and bizarre money movements between three accounts into which donations were deposited. The PP found that President Ramaphosa had violated the ethics code by not declaring these donations to Parliament.
By the time Ramaphosa tried to gag the PP, through the courts, from disclosing further bank statements it was too late. Some of the funders, who donated in the hundreds of millions, would have been the same funders that backed the DA. In an embarrassing turn of events for a president who is supposedly squeaky clean, some of the donors have been appointed to positions in state owned entities – suggesting some trade offs. Ramaphosa has also taken the PPs report on judicial review and her job hangs in the balance as opposition parties including some in the ANC have called for her removal from office.
While Mkhwebane ruled in the DA’s favour in the Ramaphosa case, she was never their favourite person in the first place, having rejected her name for the post after Thuli Madonsela’s departure. They also called for her to be removed from office after the courts ruled against some of her findings, calling her incompetent. Maimane had created a dilemma for the DA. The question of the PP’s competence or incompetence thereof became a hot potato.
It wasnt long before Zille and former DA leader Tony Leon entered the fray chastising Maimane for having lodged the complaint and accepting Mkhwebane’s findings on Ramaphosa.
It wasnt long before a concerted campaign was waged against the inexperienced Maimane. The decline of the DA in the May 2019 elections became an issue and Maimane’s leadership and his contribution to that decline came under scrutiny. He fell for the trap and asked for “an independent review into the party’s election performance”. On this panel was Ryan Coetzee, Tony Leon and Michiel Le Roux – how naive.
The rest is history as they say. The alliance came tumbling. First it was Mashaba’s resignation from the party on Monday and three days later, Maimane resigned as the head of the main opposition party. His resignation was followed by that of the party’s Federal Chairperson Trollip.
Whatever the future holds for Maimane, he must never forget the influence funders wield in shaping politics – not only locally which is where he was focusing – but world-wide.