With the run-up towards the Polokwane conference in 2007, the Mbeki people were undermining the contender for the Presidency of the ANC, Jacob Zuma. Public sentiment at the time from both the so-called progressive forces (SACP and Cosatu) plus corporate South Africa was such that they all wanted to see Mbeki’s back.
The progressive types wanted to see Thabo Mbeki go because they felt he did not serve the economic interests of the poor. The captains of industry wanted to see his back because he was hitting them where it hurt the most, which is their bottom lines, by insisting on the various charters, BBBE codes and also constantly calling for the black share of the economy to increase significantly.
Their wishes were granted. Mbeki lost his bid for the presidency of the ANC in that fateful year. A few months later we observed the spectacle of a sitting president being “recalled” by the governing party and of course the President of the Republic obeying his party’s wishes and – having complied with the constitutional obligations of addressing both houses of Parliament – he resigned soon thereafter.
Then came the centenary conference of the ANC in 2012 in Mangaung. Yet again the knives were out for Zuma. This time the Zuma faction played so dirty, violating its own constitution, launching fake branches and signing up fake members, that it simply caught the other faction by surprise and they were not prepared to stoop so low and play so dirty. The message was clear from Mangaung – henceforth there is no honour among ANC leaders and everything goes, as long as you win.
Both conferences also made it abundantly clear that the losing faction would suffer what they must. And so we are in a perpetual vicious cycle of retribution and disillusionment. It reminds me of an old Chinese proverb, “Before setting out on revenge, make sure you dig two graves.” And since Polokwane, my my, we have been digging, folks!
Thus, undermine Zuma this time around at your peril – he is having sleepless nights during this silly season of politics and will have none of it. It is clear that the Zuma faction is losing momentum and that something will have to give in order for its campaign to gain traction.
The eight-year saga of the 783 charges have finally been resolved by our courts and hence that one is ticked. Shaun Abrahams has his marching orders from Zuma and his track record suggests he will follow it to the letter. Inaction is his middle name, so Zuma outmanoeuvred us all yet again it seems.
This is the first kick.
When the National Prosecutor simply refuses to prosecute a high-profile case or gives us all the middle finger by pretending to act on it but is actually doing ziltch about it, what are the constitutional remedies open to us? In a way he is stringing us along and we must find a way to force him to perform his constitutional duties.
The Cabinet reshuffle announced on Tuesday is the next kick in a series of deadly blows. Blade Nzimande is out and with him a section of the SACP. Moving David Mahlobo to Energy means we can expect more pliable answers with regards to the nuclear deal. David Mabuza has been wanting total control over our Intelligence structures and, with the appointment of Bongani Bongo, he now has that control (watch this space). I do suspect that this reshuffle is but a taster – that Zuma is somewhat testing the waters and that a much larger reshuffle is still on the cards closer to the end of the year. After all, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma certainly must feature, Ace Magashule and the trouble he is experiencing in his home province also necessitate that he must be accommodated in the new Cabinet and, lest we forget, certain KZN PEC members are also out of a job and must be seen to be catered for.
There is no more room for Mr Nice Guy and being concerned with what the markets are going to say – to hell with them is what the Zuma team is saying. Our politics is now rather a form of war.
As for the preferred candidate for president of the ANC, she is simply not finding any traction and so the prodigal son returns with Zuma throwing his weight behind Zweli Mkhize soon and NDZ can become the National Chairperson of the ANC. With Mabuza’s numbers behind this team, Cyril Ramaphosa has a new foe to contend with.
This will be another kick.
Zuma knows that all of these parlour tricks will come to naught and simply further strengthen the hand of the other faction and so the final trump card up his sleeve will be to sway public opinion away from his nemesis, Cyril Ramaphosa.
So, prepare yourselves for a clanger that will shake your very foundations. It will run in our media for several days and will certainly be the topic of most dinner table chat. What it is I do not kn
Yet another deadly kick in the making.
As for the much anticipated December conference, it is gonna be a bloodbath, much more than flying chairs. Inasmuch as the current leadership and in no small measure the Secretary-General are hoping for discipline to prevail and though they will be saying to delegates that the world is watching, let’s be exemplary, nothing is going to stop the conference from descending into utter chaos. Police will have to intervene because the losing side will have none of it, as we observed at the Eastern Cape conference. Either you disrupt the conference to a point where it cannot continue and a postponement is introduced, thus buying time to organise the requisite numbers so you may have the votes. Or you challenge the legitimacy of the credentials of the conference in court, thus hoping to get the same outcome. But at all costs the conference must not be allowed to sit under any circumstances, if we do not have the numbers.
This is a kick reserved for much later, if required.
If they have the requisite numbers and are comfortable with going ahead, Zweli Mkhize and the old apartheid apparatchik will kick into place and we might see a new president in the making. At least, so they hope.
Beware the last kicks of a dying horse, for when the animal knows it is dying it gets a surge of adrenaline from the fear, and the last kicks will be the strongest and most dangerous.
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Oscar van Heerden is a scholar of International Relations (IR), where he focuses on International Political Economy, with an emphasis on Africa, and SADC in particular. He completed his PhD and Masters studies at the University of Cambridge (UK). His undergraduate studies were at Turfloop and Wits. He is an active fellow of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflections (MISTRA) and is a trustee for the Kgalema Mothlante Foundation
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