Can Ramaphosa centre the ANC and quell opposition parties?

By: Ran Greenstein, University of the Witwatersrand

File 20180308 30979 kg74rk.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
                                                                                                       South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in parliament.
                                                                                                                                             Brenton Geach/EPA


These are early days for the new Cyril Ramaphosa-led government in South Africa. Two crucial and inter-related strategic challenges face the new President: to consolidate support within the African National Congress (ANC), and to consolidate the ANC’s position as the dominant party in time for the 2019 national elections, seeking to reverse the decline it had experienced under Jacob Zuma.

Dealing with internal ANC issues is the most difficult and the foundation for the others. Zuma is out of power, and will not be back. Even though his departure will weaken their capacity to work as a coherent force, it will take time to dismantle the alliance that made up disparate elements he built around him.

Ramaphosa has started the job by removing the most obvious symbols of Zuma’s alliance with the Gupta family who stand accused of being the major perpetrators of state capture. These include former ministers such as Faith Muthambi who ran public administration and Mosebenzi Zwane who had been given the minerals portfolio. Both became notorious through combining incompetence and corruption, and have no independent power based within the ANC.

Others who had some internal support were demoted into less prestigious and powerful positions – Bathabile Dlamini who has been made minister of women and children and Malusi Gigaba who is back at home affairs come to mind.

Picking fights carefully so as not to tackle all adversaries simultaneously is a wise political strategy. Having won with a small margin does not allow him to go ahead with massive purges, an unwise course of action in any event.

As far as trying to forge the ANC into a cohesive force again, Ramaphosa’s real challenge remains closer to the ground. Among local ANC members and representatives an entrenched ethos sees positions of power as key to material benefit and jobs for relatives, friends and political allies. Tackling this is not going to be easy and it’s not clear that Ramaphosa will be able to do it – certainly not in the immediate term.


ANC as the dominant party?

His urgent task is to address the electoral challenges posed by the two main opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Both cater to different constituencies disillusioned.

The DA’s main policy platform focuses on good governance and rational management. The EFF’s on radical social change. Their shared opposition to the ANC has made them strange bedfellows in a number of key municipalities, thus removing the ANC from power. But this has already begun to unravel in the wake of Ramaphosa’s ascendancy. In Nelson Mandela Bay the EFF has withdrawn support for the DA, its dominant coalition partner. More political shifts like this may take place in preparation for the next elections.

Ramaphosa can undercut the DA threat by his (re-)appointment of reputable and fiscally-responsible people. He has already done so in the National Treasury with Nhlanhla Nene and at public enterprises with Pravin Gordhan. And eliminating blatant cases of nepotism and corruption will also steal DA votes for the ANC.

But tackling the EFF is a more complicated task, as illustrated by the recent reemergence of the land issue, which is now the its clarion call. Can this issue affect the ANC’s electoral prospects? What seems to be Ramaphosa’s strategy in the face of this potential threat?

Land isn’t a new issue, having been a material and symbolic concern for centuries. Colonial conquest and settlement centred on the acquisition of land by force, which played a crucial role in driving indigenous people into the labour market in the 19th and 20th centuries. Addressing the consequences of the 1913 Natives Land Act was a formative experience for the ANC, which had been created in the previous year, and remains a challenge to this day.

Land dispossession entrenched the distinctive feature of the South African economy: migrant labour as the foundation for black deprivation and white prosperity.

In 1994 a land restitution process was put in place by the newly elected ANC government. But it hasn’t met the intended targets for a number of reasons. These have included bureaucratic inefficiency, inadequate support structures for small-scale farmers (in financing, marketing, skill development), conflicts among beneficiaries, corruption and limited interest due to the meagre political weight of claimants.

While it is clear that the cost of land due to the need to offer compensation is not the main problem hampering land reform, it has become symbolic of the obstacles facing the process. When the ANC joined the EFF in parliament in referring the compensation clause for review, it recognised that opposing the motion would be risky, allowing the EFF to speak on behalf of land-hungry people.

It showed that the land conundrum is electorally dangerous for the ANC.

On the other hand, supporting the motion but amending it to conform to other imperatives (stable economy, increased agricultural production, food security) could keep the ANC ahead of the political challenge while retaining its ability to shape the outcome of the review to suit its general policy direction.

Meeting the challenges from the opposition parties will strengthen the ANC’s dominance and Ramaphosa’s control internally. The internal and external challenges could therefore be met in an integrated way. In a sense, this would allow it to return to the position it had enjoyed during Nelson Mandela’s tenure, exercising hegemony over state and society.

The ConversationBut the road is still long and full of obstacles.


Ran Greenstein, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    Don’t miss out on the latest local news, interviews and competitions.

    Don’t miss out on the latest local news, interviews and competitions.

    More Articles
    Receive the latest news

    Subscribe To Our Newsletter



    Copyright Notice


    1.1 The contents of this Website, including but not limited to its compilation and arrangement, is the exclusive property of Kaya 959, alternatively the suppliers of content to Kaya 959, and accordingly remain protected by South African and International Copyright and Trademark laws.

    1.2 Any person accessing this Website, may not, save for downloading one copy for their personal computers and solely for their private and non-commercial use :

    1.2.1 Copy, disseminate, distribute, advertise, publish, adapt, modify or in any way reproduce the contents of this website for commercial purposes, unless this notice and any disclaimer attached thereto is published in its entirety, or unless the permission of Kaya 959 is obtained in writing.

    Competition Terms and Conditions

    • The competitions are open to all persons over the age of 18 years; except directors, partners, employees, agents, service providers, and consultants of Kaya 959, the sponsor and all its subsidiaries and its holding company, if any, as well as all spouses, life partners, parents, children, siblings, business partners and associates of such persons.

    • The outcome of the competition is subject to the decision of the judge/presenter, whose decision is final and no negotiation will be entered into thereafter. Neither Kaya 959, sponsors nor their agents will be held responsible or answerable to any dispute arising from the competition or prize awards.

    • Participants/listeners enter or take part in competitions at their own risk and Kaya 959 bears no responsibility for any loss, damage or harm suffered as a result of participation in any of Kaya 959 competition.

    • One listener is entitled to winning one prize in a period of 3 months. Kaya 959 reserves the right not to award a prize if the listener has won a prize prior during the 3 month window period. This also applies to listeners who provide family or friend’s contact details.

    • Kaya 959 reserves the right to redistribute all unclaimed prizes if not claimed after 3 months after being given away On Air or on the website.

    • Prizes are not transferable and may not be exchanged for cash.

    • Finalists will forfeit their participation in the competition if they fail to attend the draws.

    • The competition will run during the period advertised on Kaya 959; entries received outside of the competition period will not be considered for the competition draw.

    • Kaya 959 and their sponsors reserve the right to cancel, modify or amend the competition at any time if deemed necessary in their opinion, or if circumstances arise outside of their control.

    • By entering the competition, entrants agree to accept these rules and to be bound by them.

    Privacy Policy


    POPIA ActTo promote the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies; to introduce certain conditions so as to establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information; to provide for the establishment of an Information Regulator to exercise certain powers and to perform certain duties and functions in terms of this Act and the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000; to provide for the issuing of codes of conduct; to provide for the rights of persons regarding unsolicited electronic communications and automated decision making; to regulate the flow of personal information across the borders of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith.


    • section 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, provides that everyone has the right to privacy;
    • the right to privacy includes a right to protection against the unlawful collection, retention, dissemination and use of personal information;
    • the State must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights;


    • consonant with the constitutional values of democracy and openness, the need for economic and social progress, within the framework of the information society, requires the removal of unnecessary impediments to the free flow of information, including personal information;


    • regulate, in harmony with international standards, the processing of personal information by public and private bodies in a manner that gives effect to the right to privacy subject to justifiable limitations that are aimed at protecting other rights and important interests,
    1. Definitions and Interpretation

    1.1.“Personal Information” means information relating to an identifiable, living, natural person and where it is applicable, identifiable, existing juristic person, including all information as defined in the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013. 

    1.2  Parliament assented to POPIA on 19 November 2013. The commencement date of section 1Part A of Chapter 5section 112 and section 113 was 11 April 2014. The commencement date of the other sections was 1 July 2020 (with the exception of section 110 and 114(4). The President of South Africa has proclaimed the POPI commencement date to be 1 July 2020.

    1.3. “Processing” means the creation, generation, communication, storage, destruction of personal information as more fully defined in the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013.  

    1.4. “You” or the “user” means any person who accesses and browses this website for any purpose. 

    1.4. “Website” means the website of the KAYA 959 at URL www.kaya959.co.za or such other URL as KAYA 959 may choose from time to time.   

    1. Status and Amendments

    2.1. KAYA 959 respects your privacy. This privacy policy statement sets out KAYA 959’s information gathering and dissemination practices in respect of the Website. 

    2.2. This Privacy Policy governs the processing of personal information provided to KAYA 959 through your use of the Website. 

    2.3. Please note that, due to legal and other developments, KAYA 959 may amend these terms and conditions from time to time.  

    1. Processing of Personal Information

    3.1. By providing your personal information to KAYA 959 you acknowledge that it has been collected directly from you and consent to its processing by KAYA 959. 

    3.2. Where you submit Personal Information (such as name, address, telephone number and email address) via the website (e.g. through completing any online form) the following principles are observed in the processing of that information: 

    3.2.1. KAYA 959 will only collect personal information for a purpose consistent with the purpose for which it is required. The specific purpose for which information is 
    collected will be apparent from the context in which it is requested. 

    3.2.2. KAYA 959 will only process personal information in a manner that is adequate, relevant and not excessive in the context of the purpose for which it is processed. 

    3.2.3. Personal information will only be processed for a purpose compatible with that for which it was collected, unless you have agreed to an alternative purpose in writing or KAYA 959 is permitted in terms of national legislation of general application dealing primarily with the protection of personal information. 

    3.2.4. KAYA 959 will keep records of all personal Information collected and the specific purpose for which it was collected for a period of 1 (one) year from the date on which it was last used. 

    3.2.5. KAYA 959 will not disclose any personal information relating to you to any third party unless your prior written agreement is obtained or KAYA 959 is required to do so by law. 

    3.2.6. If personal information is released with your consent KAYA 959 will retain a record of the information released, the third party to which it was released, the reason for the release and the date of release, for a period of 1 (one) year from the date on which it was last used. 

    3.2.7. KAYA 959 will destroy or delete any personal information that is no longer needed by KAYA 959 for the purpose it was initially collected, or subsequently processed. 

    3.3. Note that, as permitted by the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002, KAYA 959 may use personal information collected to compile profiles for statistical purposes. No information contained in the profiles or statistics will be able to be linked to any specific user.    

    1. Collection of anonymous data

    4.1. KAYA 959 may use standard technology to collect information about the use of this website. This technology is not able to identify individual users but simply allows KAYA 959 to collect statistics. 

    4.2. KAYA 959 may utilise temporary or session cookies to keep track of users’ browsing habits. A cookie is a small file that is placed on your hard drive in order to keep a record of your interaction with this website and facilitate user convenience. 

    4.2.1. Cookies by themselves will not be used to identify users personally but may be used to compile identified statistics relating to use of services offered or to provide KAYA 959 with feedback on the performance of this website. 

    4.2.2. The following classes of information may be collected in respect of users who have enabled cookies: The browser software used; IP address; Date and time of activities while visiting the website; URLs of internal pages visited; and referrers. 

    4.3. If you do not wish cookies to be employed to customize your interaction with this website it is possible to alter the manner in which your browser handles cookies. Please note that, if this is done, certain services on this website may not be available. 

    1. Security

    5.1. KAYA 959 takes reasonable measures to ensure the security and integrity of information submitted to or collected by this website, but cannot under any circumstances be held liable for any loss or other damage sustained by you as a result of unlawful access to or dissemination of any personal information by a third party. 

    1. Links to other websites

    6.1. KAYA 959 has no control over and accepts no responsibility for the privacy practices of any third party websites to which hyperlinks may have been provided and KAYA 959 strongly recommends that you review the privacy policy of any website you visit before using it further. 

    1. Queries

    7.1. If you have any queries about this privacy policy please contact us by emailing [email protected]