New dawn poser as Cyril takes the reins

So there is a new dawn. But it is in the same old context. This new dawn comes in bits and pieces. It is not a big bang.

This is where most are mistaken. They look for drastic evidence of the big bang to conclude whether the new dawn is real or not.

But then, even if someone was looking for a big bang change, the removal of former state president Jacob Zuma would give that one piece of evidence. The removal of Supra Mahumapelo as an ANC premier of the northwest also supports the evidence for the new dawn.

The change in political loyalties in the leadership of KwaZulu-Natal from Zuma to the reign of Cyril Ramaphosa is also another proof in the new dawn basket.

These are not necessarily substantive changes. Perhaps they are cosmetic, with the exception of the removal of Zuma as head of state. But cumulatively they do form the image of a new dawn. Although, within the same context.

This is the context: South Africa remains a liberal capitalist society; the ANC continues to worry about settling in this capitalist system and not changing it; the ANC remains littered with factionalism; governance in a state institution remains weak; and the general performance of the state is weak.

What's new in the new dawn? Several issues are: the first is the leadership style of the new and yet not so new rulers. Generally the top six. The new sheriff in the city, Ramaphosa, has adopted the status of statesman as opposed to his predecessor, who was an extremist alongside those he led, such as Fikile Mbalula.

Zuma was openly faction. Ramaphosa tries to present a unifying father figure.

Instead of considering those who are considered wrong within the ANC, he places himself in the constitution, the system and the processes of the ANC.

By the time a decision is made, it comes out as a decision of the organization and processes and consultations are followed.

This presents him in some way as the "go to guy" within the ANC, while Zuma was only a "no go area" for some comrades. Even if Ramaphosa is a "no go area" for some, it is not literally in your face as "that thing of a goat".

Ramaphosa also plays this role of statesman within state affairs. The first time he demonstrated this was through the reorganization of the cabinet.

He retained ministers who many had expected to be released, such as Bathabile Dlamini.

He has also put a lot of effort into a good working relationship with Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to demonstrate. There are high officials, many of whom expected to be laid off, and yet they are at most subject to governance processes.

These include Tom Moyane of Sars (SA Revenue Service); Ziba Jiyane at the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority); Shaun Abrahams, and now a number of executives at Transnet.

Ramaphosa avoided the use of the guillotine. Instead, he had the system eject the unrequested.

While Ramaphosa plays the statesman within the top six of the ANC, there are also hackers. Paul Mashatile plays the role of an advanced hacker. His role in the removal of Zuma provides evidence in this respect.

While Ramaphosa addressed Zuma, Mashatile walked with the real removal of Zuma, both within the top six and through parliamentary processes. He is the sophisticated "here and now man". As soon as a position has been taken and a decision has been made, he accelerates it. David Mabuza also falls within this role with less refinement, but more cunning. The new dawn is therefore more an operational model than real change.

The capitalist structure and the system of the economy remains anchored. The new morning regime does not intend to change it. But then, since it took power, the ANC government never wanted to change the capitalist economy.

It has previously embraced it and sought accommodation in it.

The new morning regime has just shown what the (former) President Thabo Mbeki did: an in-depth understanding of the capitalist system and the willingness to play within his rules.

The danger of the new morning regime is that it can have more explicit propaganda than content delivery. If the economic structure and system remain the same, as it is, poor cohesion and discipline within the ruling party continue to exist, and also the poor state capacity to perform, then the content of the new dawn remains propaganda.

It is for this reason that many within the ANC can not explain the new dawn.

The new dawn will probably be more pronounced among the middle class than the poor masses. The middle class now has a president who speaks the language.

The captains of industry through the pursuit of foreign direct investment from the new sheriff have an ally in both the Luthuli House and the Union buildings. But given the increase in the cost of living and the persistent unemployment, the new dawn can actually be a rough deal.

But how you deal with it depends on where you are in the food chain.

Those at the consumption points experience it better than those at the production level. The worst are those who are still spectators of this food chain, South Africa Inc.

Hlophe is a Governance Specialist at Unisa. He writes in a personal capacity. Twitter: @KunjaloD

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