Minister Dlamini Zuma should make the obvious move and step down from Cabinet
After her principled stand in Parliament on Tuesday, 13 December, the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister should resign. It is the next principled thing to do.
Yet, in an interview on Newsroom Afrika on Wednesday, 14 December, Dlamini Zuma prevaricated. “It depends,” she told interviewer Xoli Mngambi. He pushed. She replied: “It depends… wait. Ask me that question in January, and I will answer it.”
It sounded like Dlamini Zuma is banking on a change of ANC President this weekend as the ANC goes into its 55th national conference. While the Minister did not clear the hurdle to be nominated as a presidential candidate, she is still planning to run from the floor and said she had not yet thrown in the towel. Dlamini Zuma lost a presidential bid to Ramaphosa by a narrow margin in 2017.
She will need 25% of 4,519 delegates to support a run from the floor. The Minister could not muster the support of the Women’s League, which you can see in the graphic, voted for primarily male leaders. She only received 480 nominations for a position on the party’s NEC, polling behind tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who got 722 nominations.
But now that Dlamini Zuma has made the most principled stand ever by a Cabinet member in the ANC, she needs to take the obvious next step: resign from Cabinet.
She serves at the pleasure of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who might have been expecting a resignation letter to plop into his inbox this morning if he was not so busy watching his back.
The State Capture Commission found that Parliament (or the ANC at Parliament) had been supine through the State Capture years. So, by announcing from the podium that she would be voting with a majority of the opposition for the establishment of an impeachment inquiry to be set up at Parliament after the Section 89 report by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, Dlamini-Zuma broke a mould of ANC politics. Ramaphosa is taking the Section 89 panel report on the review and is awaiting a decision on whether the Constitutional Court will hear it.
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Of course, if she assumed her action would see an army follow her, it didn’t work that way. The caucus voted that the report should not be adopted (Ramaphosa is still taking it on review) a comfortable majority. The former health minister Zweli Mkhize and the Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu dodged Parliament. Dlamini Zuma was left with the support of a few RET die-hards who voted with the opposition.
You can’t say or not, as some are doing, that this means Ramaphosa is in with certainty this weekend at the party’s elective conference. He has the highest number of nominations by a country mile, but the dynamics are fluid, and the converging interests brittle and self-concerned. The ANC has but one year left in power as a majority party. The Phala Phala scandal has whacked his image as Mr Renew and Reform.
What-about questions to Dlamini Zuma on whether or not she spoke out on State Capture under former president Jacob Zuma or against an almost genocidal HIV/Aids policy under former president Thabo Mbeki can be asked, but they are moot now.
She was out of the country at the African Union most of the time, and looting was entrenched in the state. She took a principled stance and now needs to take the next one. But will she?
Dlamini-Zuma is more prevalent in the ANC than she is in the country. Last week, the courts ordered Dlamini Zuma to provide the rationale for her Covid-19 regulations, which displayed an authoritarian streak.
Her failure to resign may mean that Dlamini Zuma knows that her time in politics may be up beyond this term as Cabinet minister. DM