Ramaphosa and Mnangagwa: The new brooms that might sweep better

* Mnangagwa & Cyril Ramaphosa 

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The books of history have been emblazoned with the mark of a new South African president. This comes less than 3 months after a new Zimbabwean president was inaugurated.

Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa and Emmerson Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe did not only inherit two of Southern Africa’s intertwined democracies – they inherited the hope of their people.

Civilians of both countries have been misgoverned by previous administrations. Only history will judge Zimbabweans and South Africans if they made the right choices in putting these 3rd generation leaders in power.

Ramaphosa and Mnangagwa are from revolutionary anti-colonial movements- ANC and ZANU PF respectively. Similar revolutionary parties like KANU in Kenya and UNIP in Zambia were removed from power eons ago.

This gives them the political currency to purchase votes from the youths who beseech stability and now constitute the majority of the electorate in both countries.

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa – the millionaire president

A politician cum-trade unionist and barrister, Ramaphosa ascended to power through the ranks of the ANC and was one of the CODESA arbitrators.

Appointed as Secretary General of the ANC, Ramaphosa grew the membership of the ANC exponentially because of his trade union background and support in the 90s.

He took the political back bench as he grew his business empire and emerged as one of the wealthiest South Africans.

He was elected president of the ANC in December 2017 after defeating Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in a hotly contested election.

Civil pressure mounted on his predecessor Jacob Zuma to resign and he was catapulted to becoming the 5th president of the republic of South Africa.

The immediate task awaiting Ramaphosa is the implementation of free education. Jacob Zuma, in an unprecedented move announced that education in South Africa would be made free to the missing middle class.

With a thin and strained fiscus, the president has to deliver on the promise of free education- an issue that has brought South Africa unraveling at the seams and splitting the nation into two.

A new broom sweeps better, Ramaphosa is expected to eradicate corruption. The unmitigated infiltration of fraud and corruption government departments was the harbinger of Zuma’s downfall.

Ramaphosa faces the colossal task of pursuing the state capture commission of inquiry and Zuma’s corruption charges saga. Failure to act on these might see the ANC dealing with a citizenry that has no faith in it.

Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa – the soldier in mufti

A guerilla fighter in the Zimbabwean liberation war, Emmerson Mnangagwa was instrumental in bringing independence to the country.

A lawyer by profession, Mnangagwa held key ministerial positions including defence within the Zimbabwean government under Robert Mugabe.

In a theatrical ousting of the then Vice President Joyce Mujuru, Mnangagwa was appointed as the Vice President.

After what seemed like ventriloquism in the Muppets show, he was fired by Robert Mugabe- a nonagenarian who was now being used by his wife to fan factional fires.

The security forces which had been Mnangagwa’s mainstay intervened in a well-orchestrated coup d’état that saw Robert Mugabe bequeathing power. He became the 3rd president of Zimbabwe.

Chiefest of Mnangagwa’s immediate tasks is resuscitating the comatose Zimbabwean economy.

Without a currency of its own and a rising cost of living, the country is in need of cutting edge economic policies. The president has been perambulating the globe in an effort to put Zimbabwe back on the global business map.

Whether those efforts will hasten Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) to Zimbabwe remains to be seen.

The Zimbabwean factories must start roaring again and the land must bear crops again- Mnangagwa is the man bearing the mass of such humongous a task.

Unlike Ramaphosa, Mnangagwa inherited a decaying country. Zimbabwean infrastructure needs an overhaul especially the roads which are now laced with pot holes.

Many residential suburbs in the capital Harare have not seen municipal tap water- a testimony of ageing infrastructure and outright mismanagement.

The sunshine city of Harare is now a cesspool of unemployed vendors who have caked the roads with litter. The Mnangagwa administration is expected to clean the capital city that has lost its lustre.

Enemies in common – corruption and radical economic policies

Mnangagwa, like Ramaphosa has to act on corruption. The embezzled state coffers betray no secret that the previous administration was looting. Names of the perpetrators are known to the public as some lived extravagant lives that knew no restraints.

Tribunals have been set for some businessmen implicated in irregular issuing of tenders. Mnangagwa and Ramaphosa have to design a net different from the usual African net that catches a few corrupt individuals while letting powerful and connected offenders to escape unscathed.

The ANC and ZANU PF can maintain or multiply their electoral majority if they take stern stunts on the eradication of corruption and by enabling ethical leadership.

Zimbabwe seems to be already retracting its failed indigenization policies. In an effort to build a free market economy, Mnangagwa has been spreading the message of economic inclusivity.

The de-racialization of the Zimbabwean economy is crucial if the country is to attract FDI. The white man who was seen as the economic saboteur by the Mugabe regime is now being welcomed unconditionally by the incumbent government.

While in South Africa the Radical Economic Transformation rhetoric has not gained purchase of the citizens, the murmurs of economic policy change are growing louder.

The land expropriation issue has dominated many South African spheres and can no longer be concealed in the rainbow nation guise. Because of economic policy uncertainty, confidence in the South African economy dwindled and the credit rating was downgraded to junk status.

Ramaphosa like Mnangagwa will have to harmonize the warring economic camps- the economically excluded and the corporations that are keeping the economy oiled.

White monopoly capital is a term that is being thrown around and Ramaphosa has to calm the dangerous economic consequences that might befall the country because of economic racism.

The two presidents have an amalgam of issues confronting them. The two presidents were propelled to power under similar situations – their people identified them as problem solvers and ducts of hope.

They cannot dismiss the actuality that the people have the power to elect them or remove them from power. The Zimbabwean election will take place this year while the South African election follows next year.

Whether these leaders will emerge victorious in the forthcoming plebiscites rests on their ability to show seriousness and address issues that need their immediate attention.

. Culled from news24.com

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