African National Congress (ANC) is close to severe crisis in its history after coming to power in South Africa in 1994.
ANC got just 57,5% of votes in the legislative election in May 2019 having set a record low. The level of support by electorate has never declined sharply since the end of apartheid regime.
A new person, but the same sins
The latter in itself indicates that ANC has not yet recovered from the scandal related to the resignation of the former President Jacob Zuma accused of corruption. The appointment of Cyril Ramafosa to the post of the Chairman of ANC did not help to change the image of the ruling party. It should be noted that initially these expectations did not have a solid foundation. For foreign audience Ramafosa is a fighter against apartheid with the background of trade union management, successful business, and constitution making. According to Nelson Mandela, Ramafosa is an architect of modern South Africa. However, the image of new President within the State has a number of negative features.
Ramafosa started his career by fighting for the rights of miners. Nowadays he is himself closely linked to mining industry. He is controlling shares in companies Assor and Glencore by means of his investment holding company. President’s wife is sister of billionaire Patrice Motsepe, founder of African Rainbow Minerals (company income in 2017 is $9,6 billion) and member of board of directors of Harmony Gold ($17,4 billion).
In South African public opinion, Ramafosa is responsible for the shooting of strikers at the platinum mine Marikana in 2012. Ramafosa was a leadership member of the company that owned the mine. We are reliably informed that he sought to reinforce police in the area of strike through his links with political circles. Furthermore, Ramafosa insisted on regarding what was happening as criminal offence, but not as labour dispute.
Ramafosa’s personal wealth is about $450 million. This fact also influences the public perceptions of new ANC leader. South Africa is one of the world leaders in the terms of economic population inequality. 10% of the wealthiest households account for above 50 per cent of total incomes. At the same time, 10% of the poorest households have 1,2% of national income. South Africa is ranking second in terms of Gini coefficient displaying inequality in income distribution. It stands to reason why Ramafosa, former leader of trade union and currently high-powered businessman, is hated by large segments of the population.
The involvement of the new President in the work of State Commission Black Economic Empowerment that he led in 1999 is aggravating the situation. The objective of this authority was to eliminate disparities between racial groups by the means of providing a variety of economic preferences to dark-skinned citizens. On the one hand, in practice, this programme has led to the discrimination of Afrikaners and to brain drain from countries. On the other hand, many dark-skinned opinion leaders accuse the authorities of having used the programme mainly for the support of small number of persons affiliated to the direction of the commission and to other high-powered officials. If we draw analogies, many South African citizens perceived this programme like Russians perceived collateral auctions in 1990s.
Lastly, we should not forget about charges brought against Ramafosa by Thabo Mbeki in 2001, who was the President at that time. The leader of ANC and his supporters were accused of an attempt to conspire with intention to overthrow and murder the President. Then Ramafosa benefited greatly from the support of Nelson Mandela.
A house divided against itself
Some serious internal conflicts are aggravating the current situation. A possibility of changing interest rate by the South African Reserve Bank gave rise to confrontation inside ANC. The part of ANC representatives call on the Bank, which is not directly responsible to the Government, to reduce interest rate in order to revitalize economic development. It is planned at the legislative level to force the Bank to raise interest rate by the means of include achieving economic and employment growth in the list of its responsibilities. The supporters of expanding the functions of the Central Bank also insist on the Government’s policy of quantitative easing. ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule are also considered to be one of the supporters of this approach.
However, their colleagues showing loyalty to Cyril Ramafosa opposed that option. Concerns about rising inflation were presented as the main argument against reducing interest rate and change towards quantitative easing policy. On July 6, the President of South Africa publicly expressed his position on the Central Bank. He stated that the functions of the South African Reserve Bank would not be changed. As for quantitative easing policy, Ramafosa described it as non-conforming to the development conditions of the Dark Continent. The head of ANC subcommittee on Economic Affairs Enoch Gondongwana also opposed the initiative of the left wing of the party.
Pre-default state monopolies
A risk of bankruptcy of public infrastructure companies is seriously affecting the position of ANC. This is most evident in the cases of air carrier South African Airways and energy monopoly Eskom. As for Eskom, this case is of particular importance. The debt amount of Eskom reached $30 billion resulted in massive power outage in neighbourhoods, mines and industrial plants at the beginning of 2019. Many analysts associate decline in South African GDP by 3,2% in the first quarter of 2019 with Eskom case. Initially, the authorities had an intention to allocate $5 billion for saving the company within 3 years. However, twofold increase of the first tranche for Eskom are being discussed now. The use of budget funds to support state-owned companies, the current state of which many associate with corruption and management incompetence, provokes popular discontent.
Anti-corruption initiatives are in doubt
The work of ANC Anti-Corruption Commission gives rise to grievance. The representatives of the Commission stated that there were no evidence against David Mabuza, Deputy President of South Africa and Deputy Chairman of ANC. Media and civic activists held Mabuza responsible not only for widespread corruption, but also for about 20 political assassinations. No matter if the politician is guilty or not, it should be understood that public has already formed its opinion on this question. For this reason, the decision of the Commission disappointed the electors who had believed in the promises made by Ramafosa to clear the party of corrupt officials.
The fulfilment of campaign promises by ANC raises many questions. The ruling party promised to create a universal health insurance scheme, to legalise the minimum salary, to put the end to the privatization of State property and to carry out non-refundable confiscation of white farmers’ lands. The fulfilment of all these promises is extremely difficult in the current economic environment. Refusing to comply with their obligations couples with high level of discontent will inevitably lead to disillusion with ANC and declining support.
Prospects for «colour revolution»
In light of recent events, there is a risk of foreign intervention into the affairs of South Africa, even in an open and violent manner.
Conditions for colour revolution in South Africa are more than favourable. As mentioned above, the country is one of the world leaders of household income distribution. One doctor accounts for 1 000 inhabitants. In doing so, 18,8% of citizens are HIV-positive or have AIDS. In many ways, it is the fault of the ruling party. Thus, Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa from 1999 to 2208, officially denied the viral nature of AIDS. Under his rule, South African authorities actively obstructed the distribution of medical supplies as part of fight against Western medicine campaign, which resulted in a significant mortality growth. Official unemployment rate is 27% of working population. This figure rises to 53,4% among young people. At the same time, South Africa has the most sophisticated infrastructure of Internet Communications in the region. As monitored in July 2016, 54% of population has access to the Internet.
Furthermore, split within the ruling elite might be observed. It was clearly shown by the crisis led to the resignation of the former President Jacob Zuma. Recent events demonstrate that contradictions between factions of the party are acute.
Conflicts within opposition have deterrent effect. However, in case of serious prospects for the fall of the ANC, opposition groups will put aside all contradictions to achieve a common goal.
All these things make South Africa vulnerable to attacks. Currently we are observing that Western non-profit and non-governmental organisations are interested in South Africa. They focus on Maghreb, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Niger, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire and Chad. However, if Western countries become interested in changing the power in South Africa, the task of organising a colour revolution will not require the investment of substantial resources