So Many Problems To Tackle, Is Ramaphosa Unluckiest SA President?

President Cyril Ramaphosa has to be the unluckiest president since the dawn of South Africa’s democracy in 1994, noted an activist during a chat the other day.

Ramaphosa has had to deal with so many pressing problems – some of them a carryover from the previous regime.

Just less than two years into the highest job in the land, in March 2020, South Africa, like most countries across the globe, was affected by Covid-19 and had to implement debilitating lockdowns, the activist recalled.

The deadly Covid-19 pandemic was by far the worst disease outbreak in recent memory.

As of 9 May 2023 as many as 6 927 365 people had succumbed to Covid-19 as per WHO figures.

During the lockdowns, many businesses collapsed, job losses went up, and more deaths were recorded as well as a host of other ills that befell the human species during that period.

South Africa tends to get a lot of global media attention, after all, we are quite a dramatic country, others would say.

For instance, it was worldwide news that South Africa recorded the highest number of Covid-19 infections in Africa during the pandemic.

Reportedly the most unequal country on earth, South Africa, finds itself constantly under the spotlight for mostly the wrong reasons, especially regarding poor governance and rising crime.

However, when it comes to sports, music, and other arts, South Africa enjoys a lot of positive media coverage the World over.

This time around, endless high stages of load-shedding that entail hours without electricity add to negative business and investor sentiments, while frustrating ordinary people.

This month rising joblessness, mostly among the youth, reached a record jobless rate of 34.4%.

Crime is on the rise and there seems little to be positive about in South Africa.

Could Ramaphosa be asking himself why he took the job in the first place?

After all, he reportedly was ready to quit over the Phala Phala farm saga, in which foreign currency was stolen – raising several allegations that remain under probe.

The 2021 July unrest saw more than 350 lives lost and damages to property estimated at over R50 billion.

The torching of the Parliament building and other private, public, and government institutions that have come under attack right across the land, add to the problems Ramaphosa has had to deal with.

Ascending to the African National Congress (ANC) presidency propels the leader of the governing party to President of the country.

The ANC has enjoyed landslide victories in every national election since 1994.

The Ramaphosa presidency has, in certain quarters that include media groups, been described as the worst administration in democratic South Africa.

Maybe, or maybe not, the issues at hand now should be whether South Africans can continue to place their trust in the hands of Ramaphosa and his party.

Under Ramaphosa factional battles within the ANC became more pronounced and many observers are predicting a dip below 50% at the next general elections.

As if ANC problems were not enough, Ramaphosa is faced with a dilemma over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attendance at the upcoming BRICS summit in SA.

Putin has an ICC warrant of arrest hanging over his head and South Africa is obliged to arrest Putin if he enters the country.

The bone of contention is whether or not Pretoria will arrest Putin should he attend the BRICS summit scheduled for August 2023.

The charge for Putin’s arrest is led mostly by Western Powers including Britain and the U.S.A. who have sided with Ukraine since it was invaded by Russia just over a year ago.  

Notably, the Russian-Ukraine conflict has already had devastating effects on the whole World economically and otherwise.

The conflict has resulted in a rise in costs globally of food and fuel.

For South Africa, food and fuel supply disruptions have ramifications of great proportions when you consider that Britain and the U.S.A. are the country’s biggest trading partners.

On the other hand, should Pretoria succumb to pressure from these Western allies, then the ANC-led SA government will be breaking a century-old relationship with Russia, much of which existed during the liberation struggle.

Many African countries remain sympathetic toward Russia and point to how they were beneficiaries of support from the USSR during the struggle for freedom from colonisation.  

For now, dealing with the Putin matter is a tough one for Ramaphosa.

The matter has already divided South Africa along ideological lines.

On the international stage, siding with Russia has created tensions between countries across ideological and economic lines, historical alliances, and relations.

Although it may sound extreme and even far-fetched to suggest that this global disunity and unstable environment can create conditions of a world war, it won’t help the world not to seek to prevent such a possibility.

Few to none saw the coming of World War 1 and World War 2. 
Few to none saw the coming of many other conflicts and market crashes and economic disasters.

And as for South Africa, it is hard to hear some of the citizens hurt by the rolling blackouts and their pessimism about overcoming this “power curse”.

But again, every challenge is accompanied by an opportunity.

What could be the solution?

The solution could come from all sectors of society, locally and internationally finding one another on pressing matters affecting all of us.

Be it load-shedding, foreign policy, service delivery, and effective leadership of our nations and the world.

Those bestowed to lead must give the masses reasons to trust that they can turn things around and create an equal and winning society for all its people.

*The writer of this article Thandisizwe Mgudlwa is an award-winning journalist. The views expressed by Thandisizwe Mgudlwa are not necessarily those of The Bulrushes