July 13, 2024

Time For The ANC To Take Decisive Action Against Zuma

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With the KZN ANC having described Zuma’s conduct as amounting to ‘gross ill-discipline,’ the party should have summarily terminated his membership.

FILE PHOTO: Former South African President Jacob Zuma speaks about his political future at a press conference in Orlando East, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, December 16, 2023. PICTURE: REUTERS/Shiraaz Mohamed

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The failure of the Zuma faction within the ANC, in essence, heralded the end of its factional organism within the governing party, WRITES MOLIFI TSHABALALA

Politics is indeed a numbers game. The game, however, cannot be understood within its proper context if it is watched with naked eyes. This is especially true when one follows an ongoing public commentary on former African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma’s announcement that he will not campaign and vote for his party in the forthcoming general elections.

Instead, Zuma said he will vote for uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), a new party formed with his “knowledge and blessings”. He went further to call on South Africans to either vote for it “or any progressive party that seeks total liberation and the return of our land to its rightful owners.”

Much of the commentary does not factor in key intra-party factional activities and dynamics that have necessitated a Zuma faction to ‘re-organise’ itself into a party within the host party. Usually, when a party that is in degenerative factionalism, a third and final factional phase in which personal interests far outweigh organisational interests, such as the ANC, has concluded an elective congress, its factions ponder on their next moves relative to their inter-party factional balance of power.

A majority faction ponders on whether to use disciplinary measures to rein in dissenters or not. In contrast, a minority faction ponders on whether to remain within a host party and fight for its dominance, defect from the host party to form a splinter party or not, and/or defect from the host party to join another party or not.

Once one faction has communicated its decision, the other faction has to respond. Delivering a keynote address at a 106th ANC anniversary event, for example, former ANC secretary-general Elias ‘Ace’ Magashule called on his fellow factionalists to “stay focused” because “it is just a matter of five years” to regain party dominance, thereby communicating the Zuma faction’s decision.

Rhetorically, responding to his clarion call on behalf of a Cyril Ramaphosa faction, Bheki Cele asked him where he would be within those five years. Since the early 2000s, corruption has become a main intra-ANC factional conflict, which greatly impinges on the party in an electoral market.

Seeking to arrest its electoral decline, the ANC has resolved that members who have been implicated in allegations of corruption and other crimes “should, where necessary step aside until their names are cleared.” According to Mondli Gungubele, the step-aside rule is “a clean-up the electorate yearns for in the ANC”.

Nevertheless, the rule came into effect towards the 2021 local government elections and affected many within the Zuma faction, including Magashule, who has been expelled from the ANC for ill-discipline. By that time, the Ramaphosa faction had resorted to disciplinary measures to rein in dissenters.

Contrary to Magashule’s claim, the Zuma faction failed to regain party dominance, which gives a majority faction more, if not exclusive, access to spoils of state patronage, at the 55th National Conference. The failure, in essence, heralded the end of its factional organism within the governing party.

In any case, the Zuma faction would not have survived another five years without access to spoils of state patronage, as it largely throve on them. Hence, it has re-organised itself into the party that seeks to constrain the Ramaphosa faction’s autonomy through extra-party chaos, which would play itself out in Parliament if the ANC further declines to below 50 per cent.

This is, after all, a long-term strategy of the Afrikaners who have long regarded Zuma, who is a de facto MK leader, as “a key factor in their resistance,” wrote Gary Busch in ‘Jacob Zuma and South Africa’s Future’. Therefore, he is a potent tool in the hands of Afrikaners.

Much of the chaos would play itself out in KwaZulu-Natal, where the scourge of political killings rages on with no end in sight. The political killings are born out of an intra-ANC civil war, testified former ANC councillor Siyanda Mhlongo before a commission of inquiry into their causes.

Describing them in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal as “a cause for great concern” in his book, The Things That Could Not Be Said, Frank Chikane warns that they “could engulf the whole country as those who have committed crimes that are known about by comrades begin to perceive such comrades as a threat.”

He further warns, “Once this culture takes root our democracy will become more vulnerable as leaders will do everything possible to remain in power and secure their personal, family or ‘gang’ interests.”

With the KwaZulu-Natal ANC having described Zuma’s conduct as amounting to ‘gross ill-discipline,’ the party should have summarily terminated his membership. The time has, therefore, come for the ANC to take a decisive action against Zuma in order to forge party unity, which requires, among other things, maximum organisational discipline.

It should treat him as a rebellious oppositional leader who poses a national security threat.

Molifi Tshabalala is a political writer.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Republic Mail and its associates.

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