SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa seems to have wiped out his political opponents by what many deem is the use of state organs to fight political battles. Arrests seem to have dampened the energy of the “RET faction”, Ramaphosa’s biggest rival from even before his election as ANC president at Nasrec in 2017.
Many of Ramaphosa’s opponents have been arrested during his tenure as head of state, including ex-president Jacob Zuma, former ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, former spokesperson Carl Niehaus, former Durban mayor Zandile Gumede, former State Security minister Bongani Bongo, former public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni (who chairs the Jacob Zuma Foundation) and former Eskom CEOs Matshela Koko and Brian Molefe.
Niehaus has told the Saturday Star that he was not afraid to speak out against Ramaphosa’s alleged first-hand involvement in their arrests.
“When I was arrested, I was arrested in public on national television. They put me through a very tough time when I had to travel almost every week to KZN to attend my case. I spent thousands in legal fees and when I was cleared no one wanted to touch me.
“The reason for my arrest was because of my support for Msholozi (Zuma’s clan name) and because I have continually called for Ramaphosa to step down. I maintain that he is a sellout and the worst president the ANC has ever had,” Niehaus said.
The question among many within and outside the ANC is who is next in the growing list of Ramaphosa’s detractors to face legal challenges.
Another victim of Ramaphosa’s alleged career limiting tactics is KZN businessman Toshan Panday, who this year was raided after R165 million worth of assets were seized from his family members. Panday is known to be a Zuma loyalist.
Panday told the Saturday Star that he too became a target of victimisation by state organs.
“Many people are being pursued on frivolous charges just to deal with some of us. It is really sad what is being done. We are being persecuted and the laws are being weaponised to deal with some of us,” he said.
In 2021, former State Security minister Bongani Bongo was cleared of corruption charges after he was accused of trying to derail a parliamentary inquiry into Eskom in 2017.
The case stems from Bongo allegedly offering a bribe to Eskom inquiry evidence leader Ntuthuzelo Vanara in October 2017, who was part of a Public Enterprises portfolio committee inquiry into state capture at Eskom. The case was however turned on its head when the secretary to Parliament’s ethics committee, Shaham Langkar, who was in the room when an alleged bribe was offered, told police that Vanara was lying and was being used to “deal with Bongo”.
Langkar told Independent Media in 2021 that Bongo and Vanara had a conversation and no such bribe was paid.
Lankar said: “It’s strange that Vanara made these allegations and weeks after the conversation with Bongo. I was in the room and no such bribe was made. It’s also interesting that Vanara made these allegations when the position of head of legal for the SABC was made available. He applied for the job and got it. If I’m asked if that was a thank you gift to Vanara, I’d say yes it was.”
This week, former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko, who was cleared by the Middelburg Regional Court when it struck his corruption case off the roll, accused the ANC, Ramaphosa and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of using the courts to victimise him and his family.
Koko said in a statement shortly after his acquittal: “The ANC is a threat to the rule of law and the Constitution. We must make 2024 better than 1994 by making the NPA a Section 9 institution. The hyenas cannot look after the sheep …
“Loyalty should be to the Constitution and the Rule of Law and not to a party … As for President Cyril Ramaphosa, the voters will judge him and history will not be kind to him.”
On Friday, Koko revealed that he had laid a complaint with the public protector after he accused the Investigating Directorate (ID) and the NPA of overstepping the mark by “usurping the function of the courts”.
Many of the “pro-Zuma” supporters still have cases enrolled in the court. To many’s shock, Gumede’s case of four years ago still has an incomplete charge sheet.
Media personality Ngizwe Mchunu, who has repeatedly called for Ramaphosa to step down, was in 2021 arrested for inciting violence. The charges were dropped earlier this month after the NPA failed to prove its case.
Attempts to get a comment from Ramaphosa were unsuccessful at the time of publication.