SA will see a ‘regime change’ – but it won’t be driven by ‘morally bankrupt’ countries

At the most recent ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) lekgotla, President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a stark warning: the supporters of Israel might be orchestrating a “regime change” in South Africa.

This provocative and rather bizarre statement met with (literally) two claps from the party’s brain trust – indicating that even they are not convinced that such an external threat exists.


Read: SA banks are not involved in funding Hamas – Godongwana

The context of the remarks is essential.

Ramaphosa was gloating about South Africa’s (partial) success at the International Court of Justice – after asking the court to declare Israel in breach of the 1948 Genocide Convention – then tried to link it to a very sensitive matter, namely the ANC’s waning support.

Here are his exact words:

As we reflect on this matter, we must be mindful that our success has exposed not only the atrocities that have been carried out or being carried out by the state of Israel. It also has exposed the moral bankruptcy of those countries who, by their acts of omission or commission, are allowing genocide to take place in Gaza on their watch. And we say this we say this humbly without pointing fingers.”

“We are also conscious of the fact that there will be systematic fightback campaigns as well, and I say this so that we are aware of it. There can be little doubt that these forces will do all in their power to prevent South Africa from firstly concluding its case on the merits of the matter in the ICJ.”

He later added that “the fightback may also focus on our domestic politics and our electoral outcomes in order to pursue a regime change agenda”.

Ramaphosa did not name the “morally bankrupt countries”, but it is clearly a stab at the United States and its allies.

A very irresponsible statement in light of recent tensions between South Africa and the United States.

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In Afrikaans, there is a saying, ‘Benoude katte maak benoude spronge’, meaning that erratic actions are driven by desperation.

This proverb resonates with the ANC’s current predicament as it grapples with corruption and dwindling support. In this context, a “regime change” will be most welcome.


Ramaphosa’s statements may be mere electioneering rhetoric, but they affect all South Africans.

And the ANC might be the biggest party in the country – but there are many other parties. and they too would be affected by external forces pursuing a “regime change” in the country.

Yet the real “regime change” will not be the result of external orchestration but rather the outcome of South Africans exercising their democratic rights at the polls or staying home to enjoy the public holiday.

The underwhelming media reaction following Ramaphosa’s statements is also telling. There wasn’t an uproar besides a few articles and columns.

It was less reported on than the accusation by one of his ministers in the presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshaveheni, that the private sector is “engineering the collapse of the government”. You can read my thoughts on that in the article below.

Read: The government does not need the private sector to collapse state capacity

Perhaps South Africans have become too desensitised to take politicians and the president seriously.

This underlines the extent to which Ramaphoria has waned. He is simply not taken seriously anymore.

Ramaphosa will address the country on 8 February in his State of the Nation address.

Don’t expect any reference to the “regime change” in his address, or anything of substance. There will be more promises, but we know how empty they will be.

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