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Ramaphosa’s ‘boa constrictor’ strategy starts to bite

Nicholas Norbrook
By Nicholas Norbrook
Managing Editor of The Africa Report

Posted on Monday, 29 April 2019 12:06, updated on Tuesday, 30 April 2019 10:19

President Ramaphosa's stealthy clean-up strategy is starting to make sense. (Gianluigi Guercia/Pool Photo via AP)

Some have accused President Ramaphosa of dragging his feet when it comes to restoring accountability in public life after a decade of kleptocracy under Jacob Zuma.

His decision to open multiple inquiries – rather than criminal investigations – left him open to criticism that he was paying lip-service to his campaign pledges to clean up South Africa’s damaged institutions.

  • Perhaps he was conflict averse? After all, the “inquiry” is an age-old political trick to kick fractious problems into the long grass.
  • Perhaps, those in the opposition even wondered, “Ramaphosa’s business and political backers have been patient, perhaps they too are waiting for their pay day.”

But, increasingly, it appears that Ramaphosa has picked the “boa constrictor” method to tackle his well-embedded opponents – as William Gumede wrote for The Africa Report.

Certainly, the road to a clean South Africa lies through reform of the security and judicial services – from intelligence, police and army to the public prosecutor.

And here is an example of the boa constrictor in action:

  • Ramaphosa last Thursday fired Nomgcobo Jiba from the National Prosecuting Authority, the key body that decides which cases should go to trial – Zuma’s necessary shield for evading accountability for himself and his acolytes.
  • But the president started the whole process last October, when he asked Yvonne Mokgoro, a retired Constitutional Court judge, to hold an inquiry into the fitness to hold office of both Jiba and fellow senior prosecutor Lawrence Mwrebi.

Yes, Jiba will fight the case.

But after such a thorough process, it will be very difficult for her to survive.

And, writes Mandy Wiener in News24, this process has been seen again and again.

  • In May last year, Ramaphosa started the process of eliminating the dubious chief of the tax authority Tom Moyane => he has now been kicked out.
  • In June last year, Ramaphosa appointed Sydney Mufamadi to investigate the intelligence community, and even made the report public.

More is to come, for example the investigation into South Africa’s pension fund manager, the Public Investment Corporation, alongside the Gupta and Bosasa investigations.

The question we will see answered in the coming weeks => Will South Africans endorse Cyril “The Constrictor” Ramaphosa as the man to clean up South Africa in the 8 May election?

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