Things are looking up in South Africa, says the United Kingdom’s former ambassador to the country, Lord Robin Renwick. He says that SA is fortunate, indeed, to have seen the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president of the country. A close vote at the ANC elective conference in December – less than a 200 vote victory out of 9 000 delegates – had saved South Africa from a bleak period

If the Zuma camp – in the form of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – had won the December ANC conference in 2017, “you (South Africa) would have been facing a bleak period indeed.” It would have been a given that Eskom would have been bankrupt by now.

The country had been rescued from a person – in President Jacob Zuma - who had subverted the constitution and had “crushing judicial findings” against him. The administration of Jacob Zuma had looted at least R200 billion from the fiscus. “There was also an attempt to muzzle the press and undermine the judiciary.”

The money stolen by the Zuma-Gupta axis and its acolytes “has been stolen from the state, not from the rich but from the poor”. This money could have been spent on social and student grants. Up to two billion dollars (about R30 billion) had been stolen “by three Indian brothers” who hadn’t even been born in South Africa. That was a reference to the Gupta brothers.

No one linked to the scandal was yet in jail, he pointed out.

South Africa had been rescued from insanity by “a hair’s breadth”. Among those who had played a big role in fighting the corruption of the Zuma period was former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Speaking at the Cape Town Press Club, Lord Renwick said Madonsela had shown, in particular, enormous courage. “Without Thuli and Pravin, it (the Ramaphosa victory and defeat of Zuma) would not have happened.”

Gwede Mantashe, the former ANC secretary general, and Jessie Duarte, still the deputy ANC secretary general, had personally threatened Madonsela, said Renwick. This had to be remembered.

South Africa appeared to be through the worst now. Under Ramaphosa – who he predicted would win next year’s national election for the ANC with more than 50 percent of the vote – “you (South Africans) are 100 times better off than you would have been otherwise”.

He dismissed speculation that the 2019 national election would produce a coalition government at national level – as he believed Ramaphosa’s ANC would get an overall majority.

Renwick, who served as ambassador in SA during the Margaret Thatcher premiership in the UK, said in all his dealing with Ramaphosa he had found him to be “straightforward and honest”. He had negotiated the constitution, he was committed to that constitution and the former UK diplomat believed the president would “do his best to give this extraordinary country a brighter and more hopeful future”.

Renwick reported that Ramaphosa had served for a spell on the board with him of SAB Miller, the big South African beer manufacturer at the time.

Asked by The Messenger if he had “captured” Julius Malema – who had talks with him in London after Malema led the Economic Freedom Fighters into parliament – Renwick said that Malema had, indeed, toned down his calls for nationalisation for a while after his trip to the UK.

Confirming that he had an argument with Malema – during his visit to the UK – about nationalisation, Renwick reported that: “He stopped talking about nationalisation.” But when it was raised that he was facing corruption charges, Malema had said he was “only (facing) three (charges)”, Renwick reported.

Indeed, Malema had reported to Renwick and other British business leaders that if there was a hung result in Tshwane and Johannesburg “he would ally (his party) with the DA (the Democratic Alliance)”. When Renwick had reported this to the DA, they were aghast.

It turned out that this, indeed, happened, after the August 2016 municipal polls.

Andile Mngxitama, the leader of the Black First Land First (BLF) movement, repeatedly argues that his former leader, Malema, had been captured by Lord Renwick. He, Malema, had become a stooge of white monopoly imperialist capital, he repeatedly argues.

Renwick dismissed suggestions that he has any real influence over Malema, whom he described as a “significant figure in the politics of this country”. However, he did not believe that Malema would make his way back into the ANC because he would want a top job – either as number two or number three. Those holding these positions, like David Mabuza, would not support that, Renwick surmised.

He believed the EFF would remain outside the ANC and would win between eight and 10 percent of the vote in the 2019 elections.

But Renwick said that if Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had won in 2017, the political circumstances would have meant that the EFF would have substantially increased its share of the vote. It would have been likely that the ANC would have been forced to work with the EFF to stay in power.

“Now Cyril (Ramaphosa) is dealing with him (from) a position of great strength… going back (to the ANC) is not so easy. He (Malema) is not going to be able to displace Mabuza easily.”

Lord Renwick dismissed the Black First Land First outfit as being the creation of the Guptas and their funding. The BLF runs a news website called Black Opinion.

Lord Renwick has authored a new book How to Steal A Country. Robin William Renwick, Baron Renwick of Clifton, KCMG (born 13 December 1937) is a former diplomat and a former member of the House of Lords. He was first a Labour peer but moved to the crossbenches in 2007. He retired from the House in 2018. He was ambassador to South Africa from 1987 to 1991 and then in the United States from 1991 to 1995.

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