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Zuma accuses Ramaphosa of ‘vote-buying’ to secure ANC top job

Zuma accuses Ramaphosa of ‘vote-buying’ to secure ANC top job
Former president Jacob Zuma addressing the crowd gathered at ward 111 in uMlazi for the memorial service of former party president Oliver Tambo on 7 November 2022. (Photo: Mandla Langa)

Former president Jacob Zuma, who is fighting a number of legal battles, has made himself available for the position of chairperson of the ANC. At the weekend he launched a scathing attack on the incumbent president Cyril Ramaphosa, who he said had triumphed at the 2017 elective conference through vote-buying.

Just five weeks before the ANC’s 55th national conference, embattled former president Jacob Zuma has warned of members using money to “buy votes”, as he claimed was done at the 2017 Nasrec conference. 

Allegations of vote-buying in the conferences of the ruling party is not new – there was talk of bribes to sway votes before Ramaphosa’s election. Senior leaders in the party raised concerns about vote-buying as far back as its 2007 Polokwane conference, when Zuma was elected. More than a decade later the phenomenon appears to be still in its ranks. 

Zuma’s remarks come three days after the ANC’s electoral committee took a decision to compel those vying for positions to disclose the financial details of their campaigns, and may force them to provide banking statements in a bid to prevent vote-buying, among other things. 

Read in Daily Maverick: “ANC NEC candidates ordered to divulge all election campaign financial details

Zuma, who is vying for the position of chairperson, was delivering the Oliver Tambo Lecture at a school in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend, which was attended by scores of people. In it, he attacked the incumbent president Cyril Ramaphosa, who he said had not been democratically elected, but through vote-buying. 

During his address – in English and IsiZulu – the audience cheered and clapped, apparently in agreement with his remarks. 

Former president Jacob Zuma and his daughter Duduzile Zuma in uMlazi on 7 November 2022. (Photo: Mandla Langa)

Zuma himself has been trying to fend off scandals flaring up all around him. The State Capture Commission concluded that, while he was president, he had a contentious relationship with money and running patronage networks. In one instance, it was revealed that money from the Gupta enterprise paid Zuma’s arms deal legal fees – even while the state was ostensibly footing the legal bill.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Gupta money was channelled along terrorist network – and paid for Zuma’s legal fees  

The arms deal case is expected to kick off in 2023 following several delays, some of which owing to Zuma’s lawyers making several applications to have senior advocate Billy Downer not be allowed to lead the prosecution team in the trial.  

At the weekend, Zuma appeared to be buoyed at being chosen as “delegate number one” to represent his branch at the conference, which he would attend as a normal delegate, not as a former president who receives special treatment. Explaining this, Zuma said he took the decision to attend the conference as an ordinary delegate due to the ill-treatment he had endured after his 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court. 


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He was sentenced following his refusal to answer questions at the State Capture inquiry on his first appearance. Daily Maverick reported that he was a serial delinquent at the inquiry after he left, before being excused by the chairperson, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, on his second appearance, which amounted to a criminal offence in terms of the Commissions Act.

Read in Daily Maverick

ConCourt finds Jacob Zuma guilty of ‘unprecedented’ contempt, seals sanction with 15-month jail sentence 

No bed for old man: Zuma’s prison experience, as revealed by Arthur Fraser

Zuma told his audience at the weekend that the party’s woes had emerged since its last conference – at which Ramaphosa was elected president. 

“The organisation, its policies and politics have been consumed by a patronage network which is characterised by corrupt hands exchanging money.   

“These corrupt hands are making comrades buy votes for positions instead of being elected fairly and correctly. This leads to leaders being elected for the wrong reasons, they are therefore, at the core of corruption in the ANC.” 

He took a swipe at Ramaphosa’s election, saying “there were allegations made that Ramaphosa, who was contesting the presidency, used a lot of money to buy his position as president of the ANC”.

Former president Jacob Zuma addressing the crowd in Ward 111 in uMlazi. (Photo: Mandla Langa)

“When this allegation was made, the figure was put at about R1-billion. In the Zondo Commission, Ramaphosa admitted that he did use money to buy the position but said it was not over R1-billion but was just over R300-million,” Zuma said as he slammed the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) for failing to address this. 

Ramaphosa is on record having told the Zondo commission that his campaign had cost about R300 million , and he said that he would rather have withdrawn from the race than allowed his team to “buy” ANC votes.

 Zuma argued at the weekend that some individuals in the party had been against allegations of vote-buying, but those who see wrongdoing are unable to raise these matters.  “Comrades who are saying we need to rescue the ANC are not able to advance their plans and thinking about how this must be done. There is in fact, no discussion about that at all.”

Delegates going into the conference ought to ask difficult questions and hold those who were elected in 2017 accountable on a range of issues, including the failure to implement several resolutions such as the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank and expropriation of land without compensation, Zuma suggested.   

“Whether we like it or not, the time has come to correct the way our organisation has been run and for us to elect the kind of leadership that will help us achieve our objectives of liberating our people through our tried-and-tested policies and the ANC.  

“The real ANC must be revived and must come back to the people. That should be the mission of the 55th national conference,” he said.  

Illegal activities

The former president further raised concern about the alleged illegal activities in which the current leadership was implicated, and that little or nothing had been done to address their conduct.   

On the Phala Phala scandal, in which Ramaphosa is implicated, Zuma said delegates at the conference ought to question why he was not arrested.  

“If the law finds you with a certain amount of money, it throws you in jail. Why hasn’t the same happened here? Do positions make you bigger than the law?

“There are a lot of things we must ask. If I was a president, for example, and committed a crime and I don’t get arrested, the conference must ask me why.”

On coalition governments, which seem to be the order of the day in various metros and regions, Zuma suggested there had been invisible people colluding with members of the party aimed at further weakening the party. 

Electoral losses

Regarding the local government election losses in November 2021, which saw the party lose control of some of the country’s richest metros, including Johannesburg, Zuma said little to nothing had been done to rectify this.  

“I am not aware of any serious debate about what went wrong, what needs to be fixed so that the ANC can regain the respect and support it lost,” he said. He warned that members should be worried that the ANC no longer prioritises engagements and political lectures. 

Following the disbandment of several structures including ANCYL, MKMVA and ANCWL, Zuma said the party was going into the conference “limping” as the current interim structures were made up of leadership not directly elected by the masses of the organisation.    

He urged delegates who would be sent to the conference to think long and hard about the issues they sought to address and not go into the conference merely to elect new leaders. This would help restore the image and public trust of the party. DM

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