The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on Monday published a scathing open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, criticising him for being "in the belly of the beast which was the [Jacob] Zuma administration".
In a statement issued on the IFP's official website, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, IFP national spokesperson, writes: "Utterances attributed to you that in Davos you spoke of 'nine wasted years' under Mr Zuma have taken me aback with a sense of shock as they are said with a very opportunistic view to distance yourself from the grave realities of those years, particularly for the poor majority as we saw everything from grand-scale corruption to the collapse of the economy to state capture.
Ramaphosa has, in several speeches, referred to the period from 2008 to 2018 as a lost decade. At Davos at the end of January, he edited the period down to nine years, which coincides with the period when Zuma was in office.
"All this time, sir you were a part of the system."
Hlengwa points out that Ramaphosa served in the Zuma ANC national executive. "Not a word came from you. Instead, those who challenged Mr Zuma, namely Julius Malema and co, were expelled from the ANC under the auspices of the disciplinary processes that you chaired.
"When Mr Kgalema Motlanthe launched his campaign against Mr Zuma for the ANC presidency, you were quick to join the Zuma slate, which delivered you as deputy president of both the ANC and South Africa."
'Zuma's right-hand man'
Hlengwa accuses Ramaphosa of being the "right-hand man" of Zuma.
"It therefore baffles the mind how you can speak of 'nine wasted years' when, for all intents and purposes, you were in the belly of the beast which was the Zuma administration.
"In all those years, not once did we ever hear even squeak, until it became politically and ambitiously expedient for you as you launched your own campaign for the ANC presidency."
The IFP further states that when motion after motion of no confidence came before Parliament against Zuma, Ramaphosa "shot it down choosing Mr Zuma over South Africa at least eight times".
'You stood by'
"Mr President, the truth is that during those 'nine wasted years' you stood on the side of the one wasting South Africa away, not on the side of the victims of the waste: The people.
"The pain inflicted on the body politic of our country, and our economy, during the 'nine wasted years' cannot be quantified, and it gained traction on the daily because those who were in positions to reign in the Waster-In-Chief [Zuma] kept quiet for their political survival."
Hlengwa cautioned Ramaphosa that, "in the year you seek election into office by millions of South Africans", to remember that they too will judge him harshly for his "complacency and for merely standing by as a spectator, for nine years, when billions of hard-earned South African rands were siphoned, laundered and looted from the public's coffers".
He urged the president to be bold "in your convictions of leadership and own your complicity in the waste you speak off".
"During those [wasted] years you stood by for all nine of them. Now is the time for South Africa to see if you have what it takes to stay on for a further nine," Hlengwa said.
Spokesperson for the Presidency Khusela Diko could not be reached for comment.