Opinionista Oscar Van Heerden 13 December 2017

ANC Leadership Race: By hook or by crook – we must win

We are now only three days away from the most anticipated ANC elective conference since the ANC unbanning in 1990. The stakes are so very high and given a particular outcome it will either spell disaster for South Africa or it may be our saviour.

The battle lines have been drawn and the upcoming ANC national elective conference will be remembered as the classic good versus evil showdown in the mighty ANC. And depending on the outcome, if any, it will make or break the oldest liberation movement on the African continent.

The Zuma faction must win because they stand to lose too much. Can you imagine what will happen if they lose this fight? President Jacob Zuma would most certainly be recalled, face prosecution and arrest for the fraud and corruption charges hanging over his head for the past eight years. The Guptas would face arrest for their role in circumventing due process in so many government tenders. The president’s son and other family members would also face the long arm of the law. Numerous ministers and deputy ministers would immediately lose their respective jobs and the same would apply for some Chapter 9 institution heads, as would senior executives of most State-owned Enterprises, among others Eskom, SAA, Denel and SITA. A host of incompetent appointments would also have to be reversed with immediate effect to stop the bleeding of resources and public funds.

The picture looks very bleak for the Zuma camp and this is precisely why they are employing dirty tricks of intimidation and vote rigging in the provinces, as consistently pointed out by the various court rulings. Violence and political murders have occurred predominantly in KwaZulu-Natal but in other areas as well. They have no respect for both the Constitution of the Republic (as we have seen and heard from courts with regards to the president and Parliament) and the ANC constitution, as we have seen everywhere in the provincial processes hence the court applications and counter applications.

So, by hook or by crook, they must win.

If Zuma wins, we can safely assume that we will have more of the same with regards to the last eight or so years in our country – State Capture, corruption and the loss of legitimacy as a liberation party – all with dire consequences for the ANC in 2019.

I am not saying this because I’m being alarmist or because I do not have confidence in Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s ability to pull us out of this abyss, but because she will be incapacitated to do what is right precisely because of the team she has surrounded herself with.

Most of the current NEC members will of course return and we have observed their sheer incompetence when it comes to providing leadership to our embattled country.

The Education Department is in a mess – just consider the textbooks saga and higher education’s #FeesMustFall. The Health Department is in a mess – there’s no sight of the National Health Insurance, not to mention the Life Esidimeni tragedy. Treasury is in a mess, a failing economy and country that has been rated as junk by two rating agencies. The less said about the Social Development Department social grants disaster, the better. The Public Enterprises Department is reeling from Eskom State Capture revelations, SAA bailouts, Denel’s involvement with Gupta companies, PIC wastage, as well as Transnet’s Prasa disaster. The Trade and Industry and Economic Development departments are facing persistent low growth, declining investments and numerous collusions by captains of industry. Our people do not feel safe, thanks to rampant crime. And State Security instead of protecting us are trying to get books banned. Seriously?

It’s an all-round disaster because of the current ANC leadership and at its helm is non other than President Jacob Zuma.

If Cyril’s faction win, the task of rebuilding the state will be as cumbersome as it is arduous. Cyril would almost immediately facilitate that the conference recall the president, to stop the party from going into cardiac arrest. A reshuffle of the Cabinet is most likely, to stop the bleeding on all fronts.

And then, I’m afraid to say, he would have to become probably the most unpopular president of the country by taking very difficult decisions, such as turning down demands for free higher education for all. He would have to impose a public service wage bill freeze for three years to get debt levels under control, force the private sector and captains of industry to invest the billions they are sitting on and meet government half way with respect to a package to kick-start our economy. All of which would unfortunately lead to emboldening radical left-wing forces such as the EFF and SACP plus the conservative elements in our society turning against him and his leadership.

And so the responsibilities weigh heavily on the shoulders of those delegates to conference who are for change. You will be enticed by lots of money, manipulations, blackmail and so much more. Have courage and exercise your responsibility with diligence and care. The entire country depends on you and your vote.

And remember, your vote is your secret.

The dictionary tells us that “by hook or by crook” also means, by any means, somehow or other, in one way or another, by fair means or foul.

By fair means or foul…

And foul it will continue to be even during the conference. All sides to this impending catastrophe are calling for calm and for the conference to proceed without any incidents. This is a pipe dream because as soon as one side realises they indeed do not have the numbers to push them over the line, they will revolt, regardless of the good intentions of the so-called leadership. There is just too much to lose for each side. Lawfare will most certainly also be part of the arsenal of both camps when the time comes. I pity our courts and the most difficult position the ruling party places them in.

But, on a more positive note, if the outcome goes against the Cyril camp, don’t despair, for what will certainly flow from such a loss can only but be good for our democracy.

Contrary to calls for the losing side not to entertain a breakaway party, I am certain that is exactly what will happen post this conference and this can only be viewed as a good thing in strengthening and consolidating our democracy and multiparty politics. The disillusioned SACP, breakaway trade unions of Cosatu, the veterans and stalwarts plus all other conscientious activists out there will feel compelled to challenge the takeover of the ANC by Mafia and criminal types, as described in the book, The President’s Keepers.

So, “by hook or by crook”, we must all play our part in ensuring that the downward spiral of our beloved country under this current leadership comes to an abrupt end. DM

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