Cape Town – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has reportedly challenged former president Thabo Mbeki’s claims that he has failed to deliver on his promises to address socioeconomic conditions and curb government corruption in the country.
Mbeki delivered a rare scathing attack on Ramaphosa last week, saying that the country faced a time bomb and could see an uprising similar to the Arab Spring triggered by mounting discontent.
He said this during the memorial service of Jessie Duarte, an African National Congress (ANC) stalwart who died on July 17.
Mbeki said that Ramaphosa’s government lacked a national plan to tackle poverty, inequality and unemployment which stood at over 34.5%, and youth joblessness at nearly 64%.
“There is no national plan to address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, it doesn’t exist.
Thabo Mbeki for the first time telling the truth about Cyril Ramaphosa failures, we’re getting somewhere 🤔 pic.twitter.com/nvel0ffzbS
— The Special one🇿🇦 (@Nhleiks5) July 21, 2022
“To serve the people requires that we address these issues,” said Mbeki.
He added: “One of my fears, comrades, is that one of these days, we… are going to have our own version of the Arab Spring.”
Police harassment of a Tunisian street vendor triggered a nationwide revolt that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.
“I’m saying one of my fears is that one of these days it’s going to happen to us,” said Mbeki who left office in 2008.
“You can’t have so many people unemployed, so many people poor, people faced with this lawlessness” – and “corrupt” leadership.
“One day it’s going to explode.”
Reports indicated that Mbeki had premised his speech on allegations of forces that had infiltrated the “liberation movement”, to weaken it and make it lose the support of the masses.
But, according to Times Live, a fiery Ramaphosa used the ninth KwaZulu-Natal elective conference – where he addressed more than 1 600 delegates – to challenge the former president.
Ramaphosa said that a process was under way to finalise a social compact.
“Since the Sona (State of the Nation Address) in February, government has been meeting with social partners on the further measures we need to take in addition to the economic reconstruction and recovery plan to grow and transform our economy.”
WATCH: #KZNANC: President Cyril Ramaphosa responds to former president Thabo Mbeki’s criticism on the social compact issue. Ramaphosa concedes that it has been slow but work is being done. @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/wQIbB7XY0l
— Amanda Khoza – The Journalist (@MandaKhoza) July 24, 2022
“The process has been slow and at times quite difficult. We all agree our overriding objectives are to grow the economy, create jobs and reduce poverty and inequality, the report quoted Ramnaphosa as saying.
He also maintained that unemployment was a problem that “did not start yesterday”.
“It did not start two years ago. We have lived with this problem over a number of years and we have been involved, among the social partners, in finding or creating steps we need to take to address all these challenges through a social compact.
“There are differences over what compromises need to be made and who needs to make the compromises. So while we do not have an overarching social compact, we are making progress.”
In his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa again alluded to the fact that South Africa had been facing high levels of joblessness, growing inequality, and high levels of poverty over the past two decades.
“Our economy has not been growing at the pace that could enable us to make a meaningful dent in unemployment, poverty and inequality. To reduce the impact of these triple challenges we need a number of impactful interventions, including to attract much more investment and enhance the capability of the state.
“To turn our economy around and create the millions of jobs needed is something that cannot be achieved by government alone. A comprehensive programme will require the mobilisation of all social actors,” said Ramaphosa.
He added: “With this in mind, I said in this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) that we would work with our social partners to finalise a comprehensive social compact to grow the economy, create jobs and combat hunger.
A framework for a social compact has been developed. It identifies priority actions to achieve higher levels of investment and growth, increase employment, protect the rights of workers, expand support for the unemployed and tackle extreme poverty. https://t.co/Bj8PMlFBac pic.twitter.com/JOrFdLZiYB
— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 (@CyrilRamaphosa) July 25, 2022
“Over the last few months, a team led by the ministers of Employment and Labour, Trade, Industry and Competition, and Finance have been meeting with social partners to map out the priorities that must be reflected in the new social compact. As part of this work the team has had ongoing meetings with social partners.”
Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, launched a scathing attack on Mbeki, saying he had no moral authority to call out Ramaphosa’s leadership failures because he endorsed him four years ago, IOL reported.
“This country is in the hands of dogs … Ramaphosa is Rupert’s dog. We need to remove this guy, but Mbeki is not the alternative Zuma is not the alternative. The EFF is …,” the report quoted Malema as saying.
Malema said this while addressing the Student Command elective conference in Boksburg on Saturday.
He added: “Thabo Mbeki wants to speak like a moral authority after he said we must allow Cyril to explain the theft. The office (of the Presidency) must be protected with everything. Whether Ramaphosa is wrong or right, the way he acted is wrong. It was pure gangsterism.”
According to AlJazeera, Ramaphosa was currently facing dissent from within ANC ranks, with some party members participating in a rally last week calling for his removal.
The president has been accused of corruption in connection with the theft of $4m in cash from his Phala Phala game farm after the former State Security Agency (SSA) director Arthur Fraser filed a criminal complaint against him in June 2022 for alleged money laundering, kidnapping and concealing a crime.
Picture: Getty Images
Compiled by Betha Madhomu