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FIKILE-NTSIKELELO MOYA: Asking Ramaphosa to leave over his funders is naive

OPINION

If ignoring what is ahead of you to find what is peripheral was a sport, South Africa would be up there with the best in the world.

Take, for example, the brouhaha over the captains of industry who donated to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s war chest to win the African National Congress (ANC) presidential elections. Let me state it upfront that I believe that those who want to paint President Ramaphosa unfit to govern because of who funded his campaign, are making a mountain of an anthill.

Political parties and figures have been funded by business from time immemorial. Even township branches of the ANC regularly ask local businesses for donations to further their programmes. Nobody in their right minds thinks that donating necessarily amounts to buying power.

It might very well be that those who donated to President Ramaphosa, did so out of personal interest. For now, it is all conjecture. It is different with the Guptas. We do not have to guess their intentions. They intended to loot the state and did so on a grand scale.

I need to state categorically that the above is not the same thing as saying it is acceptable for the president to lie to Parliament or to violate the Executive Members Ethics Act. If these are found to be true, then the head of state should face impeachment.

I am referring to the disingenuous argument that if President Ramaphosa’s campaign is funded by the rich, then it is their agenda – and not of the poor and working-class communities who vote for the ANC – that will see the light of day.

We have to assume that even the rich know that it is not in their interest that the status quo of poverty, unemployment and inequality continues. If they continue as if it is still 1977, then they will surely lose whatever investment they thought they were making by betting on Ramaphosa.

It is also in the best interest of business to have a sense that the state is not run by gangsters in expensive suits, as the Guptas and their political cronies are.

To that extent, it is reasonable to see why big business would be interested in funding a candidate who in their minds, is most likely to restore business confidence and make our country a well thought of investment destination. With all our problems, high unemployment and now a plummeting currency which will most certainly bring about high fuel prices and high food prices, we cannot afford to play ideological games.

We just do not have the luxury of worrying about the colour of the capital inflows into our country. Without assuming that big business is a group of angels, South Africa’s status as one of the most industrialised and biggest economies in Africa is largely because of the country’s business community.

Whatever issues we might have with big business, this does not seem like a time to be retreating to ideological corners and populist rhetoric.

The economy is growing at a snail’s pace and the shrinking tax base is increasingly overburdened. We have a crisis. If we really want to be outraged, we have enough to want to change the government – not just the president.

But for goodness sake, being unhappy about who funded President Ramaphosa’s rise to power is the worst reason to want change at the Union Buildings.

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is an independent journalist and former editor of The Mercury and The Witness.

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