“As Weekly Xposé has revealed, the possible aim of such a political formation may equally seek to contest the ANC in the hope of reducing their percentage, denying the ANC to hold the romantic 60% threshold it has grown used to for the full period of national elections.”
In the aftermath of the recent SONA and the preceding events of a SAVE SA Campaign staged ‘SONA’ at the St Georges Cathedral in Cape Town, on the doorstep of parliament, it is perhaps time to ask is there a political-presence motive and aim in the Sipho Pityana and SAVE SA Campaign?
There are revelations that Pityana and SAVE SA, with their own version of a SONA, have for the first time unequivocally registered their intentions to be a political player in the life of SA. The world over, in particular democratic societies, accommodate the presence of business in a lobbying sense. Yet whilst lobbying is a normal aspect of a democracy, Pityana and SAVE SA have gone much further – they have delivered a SONA, regardless of how that is interpreted
Save SA is a civil society formation, whose primary face is Pityana, and it is difficult to ascertain what the fundamental focus of the SAVE SA campaign is outside the frame of Jacob Zuma’s removal from SA’s highest office. Pityana has used every platform possible to mobilise South African citizens in their quest for their fundamental existence – namely the removal of Zuma.
In understanding the term “campaign” one uncovers its usage as a noun suggests “a series of military operations intended to achieve a goal, confined to a particular area or involving a specified type of fighting”. However campaign as a verb is defined as “work in an organized and active way towards a goal”. It is also defined as “a systematic course of aggressive activities for some specific purpose”.
The ambiguity and challenge with understanding Pityana lies herein: that he is driving this campaign not from within ANC structure fold, which any ANC member has a right as others have sought to do.
Secondly, it is difficult to separate Pityana from the office he holds, that office is board Chairperson of AngloGold Ashanti. Having conscious regard for the fact that people, regardless of their choice and association in paths of life immanent in designation and job description, have a right to engage in their personal capacities, one still cannot but see Pityana as an unusual phenomenon of a business leader active in the political space as his campaign attests. Hence his position as player in the corporate sector is one that cannot be left out of any analysis Pityana’s active campaign. Neither can AngloGold Ashanti simply claim Pityana’s campaign and utterances have no bearing or effect on its organisational ethos, reputation, and livelihood.
Thirdly, in support of this notion of a proximity of his role in industry is the fundamental question of who funds the campaign, if the campaign is corporate-sector sponsored than the case can be made that it is a corporate attempt, however defined, to engage politically in a matter that according to the constitution of SA remains within the ambit of the National Assembly.
The fourth aspect of the SAVE SA campaign is the fact that it is premised on the notion of a defence of the Constitution that for some recent civil society formations appears under threat. Save SA therefore assumes a natural custodianship of a defence of the SA constitution when it equally has scant regard for that very constitution. Chapter 6 Section 87 unequivocally and categorically states that only the National Assembly that elects presidents can remove from office the incumbent of the presidency as articulated: “The President or an Executive Deputy President shall cease to hold office on a resolution adopted at a joint sitting of the national Assembly and the Senate by a majority of at least two-thirds of the total numbers of members of the Houses.”
Whilst Pityana’s campaign for the sitting President’s removal is welcomed by capital defined in colonial and apartheid beneficiary description, there are those like Tito Mboweni who recently questioned the motives, obsession and tactics of Pityana. For Mboweni, Pityana is simply noisy when at branch level, work is being done. The case can thus be made that Pityana is not speaking for or on behalf of the ANC, unless if he is speaking for a faction. If it is a faction, what is the interest and the direct benefit for Save SA and Pityana from such factional endorsement?
Pityana took the liberty to use the funerals of among others the Rev Arnold Makhenkesi Stofile and that of Professor Rok Ajulu to prove scathing on the president in particular, but the ANC leadership in general. He recently led what SAVE SA dubbed the real State of the Nation in Cape Town as a direct challenge to the President of SA’s SONA address. Regardless to how this event came about it has definite implications.
What does the Save SA Sona communicate?
- It defines a chairperson of AngloGold Ashanti delivering the claimed ‘real SONA’, meaning a complete rejection of what the SONA means and from where it is delivered.
- It was also an attempt at usurping of presidential authority from a non- registered political player, in a space usually accepted as for political formations. In normal democracies, it is acceptable for opposition parties to deliver their report on the country, as we see the DA does every year when it rates the performances of the executive.
- It registered in no uncertain terms the political aims of the Save SA campaign as that of being a political player, perhaps in preparation for a possible launch to contest elections. Off course such a launch is never not welcomed in SA with its over 100 listed political parties.
- It equally became the clearest sign that Save SA is plausibly engaging with the less constitutionally palatable aim of the illegal removal of a sitting president. The nature of that possible illegal removal may be interpreted at a narrow and wide level. Narrow as that of a president, wide as that of the removal of the right of the ANC to have its president lead the State when the people of SA entrusted the ANC and its leadership to lead.
- The centred intention of Pityana at this stage renders his campaign as in silo, equally ANC organisational constitutional defiance (if he is still a member) of what constitutes a disciplined member of the ANC, an organisation joined by people voluntarily.
- What is challenging is the comfort AngloGold Ashanti has with the confirmed vituperative claims Pityana hurls, at the person of the president of SA. What is not answered is why Ashanti Gold finds no reputational risk damage in the actions and utterances of its board chairperson. This can be interpreted as an endorsement of his actions. Which, if true, raises many more questions as to the interest of the sponsors for a Save SA campaign.
It therefore seems feasible to make the case that Save SA is readying for a political presence, a launch possibly with the hope of registering a political formation to participate in the 2019 elections. It also seems more than evident that Save SA intends being the surrogate mother for a political personality to arise in SA’s presidential leadership. It furthermore means Save SA believes it has an inalienable right to direct the political leadership choice.
As Weekly Xposé has revealed, the possible aim of such a political formation may equally seek to contest the ANC in the hope of reducing their percentage, denying the ANC to hold the romantic 60% threshold it has grown used to for the full period of national elections.
What is perhaps worth observing is to conclude on a singular base of removing a sitting president, Save SA proves compromised as a constitutional defender or custodian when it seeks on hand to argue it works for the defence and upholding of the constitution when it equally shows scant regard for the very constitution.
Clearly Save SA and Pityana owe the SA public an answer in regard to whether their actions are really in defence of the constitution when their deeds potentially confirm disrespect for the constitution in the fullness of its articulation.
– Clyde Ramalaine, political commentator