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 Post subject: Ramaphosa
 Post Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:11 pm 
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New topic, because this is no longer the Zuma Story; Zuma has been demoted to a bit player in his own, separate saga, and Cyril Ramaphosa has taken over.

But first, a bit of a dramatis personae:

Cyril Ramaphosa: New President. Business mogul, smart, tends to hold his metaphorical cards close to his chest. He's the current leader of the ANC, which is the same party that followed Zuma through all the years of corruption - despite Cyril's brave words, there are a lot of people still active in the party who were implicated in the Zuma corruption saga, in one way or another. And he was elected to the party leadership position with a hair over 50% internal support from his own party.

The DA: The party that considers themselves the official opposition. They're calm, methodical, and competent at their best - though their detractors claim that they're more interested in taking care of the rich than of the poor, and they've been putting a lot of effort into getting rid of their perception as the party of the white elite. Tend to get more votes in urban areas than in rural areas. They have control over the Western Cape, which is rumoured to be the best-run province - which means that either it is, or they have a truly great marketing department.

The EFF: Also known as the Red Berets (after their distinctive headgear), this is the party of Julius Malema, who was thrown out of the ANC by Zuma. Bore a grudge against Zuma, which turned into a firm anti-corruption stance when Zuma's corrupt activities became clear. Their most loudly shouted policy is the idea of land restitution without compensation for the current landowners (and, as they have recently gone to great pains to add, without being conditional on food security). They seem to have failed to pay attention to the example of Zimbabwe.

There are plenty of other parties, but these three are the ones that tend to make it on the news; the first two because they're the biggest, the third because they're disruptive and don't much care for the rules of civil debate.

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Right. Well, since Ramaphosa moved in, what's been going on?

First, very shortly after he became President, there was a new Budget speech from the finance department; in short, Zuma and his cronies had take so much money out of the country that there were some nasty increases in various taxes. VAT, which is a sales tax which has been sitting at 14% for literal decades, went up to 15%; increase in fuel levy; and so on. Basically, everything got more expensive to try and fill up the hole in the budget left by Zuma and his cronies.

Talking of 'cronies', Ramaphosa has announced his first new cabinet. And he's got rid of a lot of the more... troublesome corrupt politicians. But, interestingly enough, not all of them. News outlets seem a bit divided - some asking if there was really no way to get rid of Malusi Gigaba (who was so thoroughly enmeshed in the Gupta saga that some news outlets have been calling him Malusi GiGupta), while at least one other suggested that perhaps that was truly the best he could do before the 2019 elections. (Oh, and after the cabinet reshuffle, news has emerged that at least one department (Water and Sanitation) is apparently on the edge of bankruptcy - due to either mismanagement or blatant corruption and theft, I'm not sure yet).

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And then there's the issue of land restitution. A nasty business to start off with (basically; in the Bad Old Days of Apartheid, tonnes of people were forced off their land. This land was then sold, sold again, inherited, built up, etc., etc.; however, the people who were forced off the land had heirs and descendants of their own. What to do with the land, then, after Apartheid collapsed? Some effort has to be made to recompense the heirs for the theft of their ancestral land...)

Up until now, the ANC has handled this land reform via a willing-buyer-willing-seller program - which basically (as I understand it) means that they offered to buy the land from the current tenants at a fair price (or, at least, what they said was a fair price) and then distributed it as required. Somewhat expensive for the government, but none of the landowners really had any complaint - they did not have to accept the offer given them, after all. But some people did, and so the land reform programme chugged along, slowly. Too slowly, according to many of those descendants, who found themselves swayed by the EFF's call for the government to simply take the land, without compensation...

Interestingly, the EFF seems to have been able to start talking the ANC around on this issue. (The DA is flatly opposed to the idea of the government taking land without paying for it). So, now there's been votes in Parliament about setting up a committee to figure out how to amend the constitution to allow the government to take land without paying for it - supported by the ANC and EFF, and opposed largely by the DA.

No-one seems to have any idea exactly how this will work, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Ramaphosa
 Post Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:18 pm 
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Any word on what the administration is planning on doing about the water shortage?

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 Post subject: Re: Ramaphosa
 Post Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:59 pm 
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The Western Cape water shortage?

Last I heard, estimates suggested that there was enough water in the dams to last Cape Town until mid-July, though the surrounding farmland has been taking a bit of a knock. And the rainy season should start around May/June. So, there's a good chance of that deadline being somewhat extended.

At the same time, I believe there's something like four different desalination facilities in the process of being built? Almost all behind schedule, naturally, but they seem ready to come online before the water actually runs out.

It would be really great to have decent rain in the Western Cape, but I think the place is going to very narrowly avoid much more than a really bad year to be a farmer.

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 Post subject: Re: Ramaphosa
 Post Posted: Wed May 30, 2018 3:43 am 
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So, Ramaphosa's been President for just over a hundred days now. How, one might wonder, has that been going?

Pretty decently, actually. One report gives him a B+ for his efforts so far.

Decently, but not brilliantly. That is to say, he's fired a dozen or so corrupt ministers, started rooting out and replacing the boards of various corrupt state-owned enterprises, and started a whole lot of investigations into various types of corruption, and that's all good, but... there's still a few ministers widely believed to be corrupt who haven't been fired, the state-owned enterprises are still showing unexplained losses, and none of those investigations are anywhere near complete yet.

Now, in all fairness, Ramaphosa's had a rough situation to handle. Not only does he have to get rid of corruption in the state institutions, he's got to do so without actually breaking those same institutions in the process. And he's got to do so from within the same party as started all that corruption in the first place. This is especially tricky, because a lot of his reporting lines would have already been subverted to hide exactly that rot that he is going after...

It's a tricky job, but at least he is doing it decently. And, of course, his greatest achievement so far is that he is undeniably not Zuma - he might only be pulling us out of the morass of corruption slowly, but he is pulling us out.

We'll see what happens when those investigations start being completed. I'm guessing that at least one of those investigations will be completed shortly before next year's elections, so that Ramaphosa can try to gain some goodwill among the voters by being very visibly unbendingly against corruption.

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 Post subject: Re: Ramaphosa
 Post Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:24 am 
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Shaun Abrahams, also known as "Shaun The Sheep" due to his bad habit of following unquestioningly where Zuma led, has (as of yesterday) had his position as National Director of Public Prosecutions overturned by the Constitutional Court.

...let me unpack that a little. As National Director of Public Prosecutions, he gets a say - a very powerful say - in the question of what court cases the State will prosecute. And in his entire career, he very visibly did just about everything he possibly could to avoid prosecuting one Jacob Zuma, the corrupt former President. This is very probably not a coincidence, because the position of National Director of Public Prosecutions is one that is selected by the President; that is to say, Jacob Zuma put Mr. Abrahams in that post, and it is probable that he did so with the clear understanding that he would not be prosecuted.

Now, his refusal to prosecute Jacob Zuma led to a number of legal challenges to that appointment. The wheels of justice grind slow, and appeals are most certainly a right of people who lose a court case; so this went to higher and higher courts, until it hit the Constitutional Court, it apparently coming down to a matter of the interpretation of the Constitution. (The Constitutional Court only decides matters of the Constitution, they do so with an entire bench of judges, and when it comes to matters of the Constitution, there is no appeal because there is no higher court to appeal to. Any other court, so long as you can find an argument in the Constitution, can be appealed in the Constitutional Court).

Now, the Constitutional Court didn't cast any aspersions on Abraham's capability; instead, they found that the resignation of his predecessor in that post (one Mxolisi Nxasana) was improper and that Nxasana should pay back (most of) the golden handshake he was given at the time. At the same time, Abraham's reputation has dropped so far that it is underground, and the Constitutional Court pretty much said that this fact alone makes him unsuitable to hold such an important post in the judicial system; that, in short, the judicial system must not only be pristine, it must be seen to be pristine.

Normally, since they'd found that Nxasana's dismissal had been invalid, they would remedy that by ordering his position restored to him. However, in this case, they were pretty sure that his golden handshake was improper; I don't think they actually used the word 'bribe', but the gist of the argument was that if he would accept a payment to leave the post then he should not be the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

Technically, this leaves the post vacant; the current President, Cyril Ramaphosa, thus has three months in which to appoint a new head of the National Director of Public Prosecutions. (In reality, Ramaphosa's known about this court case for months now, and has had plenty of time to consider the very small pool of eligible candidates. We can probably expect the name of the next Director of Public Prosecutions to be announced later today)

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 Post subject: Re: Ramaphosa
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:24 am 
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If I were you I'd pay very careful attention to whether the corrupt officials that Ramaphosa hasn't fired are all his proteges and allies. If he's willing to clean his own side of the house, you know he's for real.

Sounds like he's doing a fairly decent job though.

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 Post subject: Re: Ramaphosa
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:03 am 
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It's difficult to know that.

Both Zuma and Ramaphosa are members of the ANC, which has a substantial majority in Parliament (though indications are that said majority will probably be reduced somewhat in next year's elections). Now, for a significant amount of time, Zuma has been gleefully handing out positions of power to his cronies and allies; Ramaphosa has removed some but not all of these (including, yes, members of his own party, but I have no idea to what extent they're his allies on a personal level) but it's not entirely clear what Ramaphosa's criteria are, or what has been discussed behind closed doors.

Internally, the ANC is almost split in twain - Ramaphosa gained leadership of the party through a very close vote, and so he has to work to keep his party happy as well, and bear in mind that this was the party that Zuma moulded over several years. So, in all fairness, he's not in an easy or straightforward position.

...he has also now appointed an acting head of the National Prosecuting Authority, a man by the name of Dr. Silas Ramaite. He says he'll name a permanent head within the next three months. The official line from the ANC is that this sort of swift, decisive action is a very good thing; the opposition party, the DA, says that he wasn't the best candidate and Ramaphosa should discuss the matter with Parliament before (urgently) selecting a permanent candidate.

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