The ANC will re­alise over the next few months why it should have grabbed the op­por­tu­nity to re­claim power from the Gup­tas

CityPress - - Front Page - MONDLI MAKHANYA mondli.makhanya@city­press.co.za COURT­HOUSE BLUES

The fol­low­ing se­quence of events may not make sense to most peo­ple, but it makes a lot of sense to those who run the ANC. In Au­gust last year, fol­low­ing the dis­as­trous out­come of the lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions, the ANC can­celled its tra­di­tional vic­tory party out­side its Luthuli House head­quar­ters. Fail­ure to win in three big met­ros and a re­duced over­all ma­jor­ity coun­try­wide meant there was noth­ing to cel­e­brate. Gone was the pre­elec­tion bravado of Asi­navalo (we have no fear). Can­celling the bash was the most sen­si­ble thing to do.

In­stead of be­ing in a party mood, a som­bre na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee de­cided af­ter its post-mortem that it would en­gage in “se­ri­ous, ob­jec­tive and ro­bust in­tro­spec­tion within the move­ment it­self, start­ing with the lead­er­ship at all lev­els”.

Why it needed to in­tro­spect is a mys­tery be­cause the an­swer was ob­vi­ous to any­one who had gone be­yond pri­mary school. The an­swer was Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and the harm that his in­nu­mer­able scan­dals had caused the ANC.

Nev­er­the­less, if a rev­o­lu­tion­ary move­ment wants to in­tro­spect, who are we to get in the way? Prob­lem is that, in­stead of ac­tu­ally in­tro­spect­ing, the ANC gave its in­cur­able delin­quent more space to cause havoc in the party and the country. He did so with gay aban­don. And to the dis­may and dis­gust of the rest of so­ci­ety, the ANC seemed un­able to do any­thing about him. Just like your regular delin­quent, he has been break­ing ap­pli­ances and win­dows, steal­ing from the home and the neigh­bour­hood, and be­ing an em­bar­rass­ment to the fam­ily.

Now here’s where sense seems to have es­caped the party. This past Tues­day, al­most 12 months to the day the ANC took the sen­si­ble de­ci­sion not to gumba, it par­tied up a storm in Cape Town. Look­ing at the scenes at the rally out­side Par­lia­ment, you could have sworn that the ANC had just won an elec­tion, won back the met­ros and pushed their sup­port well be­yond 70%.

Why did the com­rades feel this urge to party like it was the turn of a new mil­len­nium? Well, they had saved the skin of Zuma, the man who cost them dearly last year and con­tinue to harm them. They were cel­e­brat­ing the fact that they had pro­longed their own suf­fer­ing and the pain of the na­tion. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it doesn’t matter. It makes sense to the ANC.

The great irony of this week is that those par­ty­ing hard were the big­gest losers of the day.

In the run-up to the vote, the ANC pulled out all the stops to en­sure its MPs toed the line. Its head hon­chos sto­ically fought against the hold­ing of the bal­lot in se­cret, fear­ing that they would lose con­trol of their par­lia­men­tary cau­cus.

Bel­li­cose warn­ings were sent to mem­bers about dire con­se­quences should they dare break ranks. The ANC’s hot­heads is­sued threats. The closer the day came, the more des­per­ate the party lead­ers sounded. On the day it­self, the par­lia­men­tary cau­cus meet­ing was at­tended by the top six, with Zuma him­self turn­ing up to hear what was to be said about him. It was strong-arm­ing at its best.

The other side also gave it its best ef­fort, but the only weapon it had was moral sua­sion. All that op­po­si­tion par­ties, civil so­ci­ety, the ANC’s own stal­warts and the clergy could do was ap­peal to the con­sciences of ANC par­lia­men­tar­i­ans.

Pub­licly and pri­vately, this was clear: the ANC gen­uinely feared los­ing the vote, and the op­po­si­tion and civil so­ci­ety fan­cied their chances of win­ning.

In the end, the win­ner was Zuma and the Gupta syn­di­cate. The big losers were South Africa and the ANC.

Encouraging his blink­ered sup­port­ers to cel­e­brate with him, Zuma char­ac­terised his sur­vival as a vic­tory for the ANC.

“You demon­strated that the ANC is there‚ is pow­er­ful‚ is big‚ it’s dif­fi­cult to de­feat the ANC. You can try ... They al­ways try. They don’t learn that you can’t touch the

TALK TO US Will Zuma agree to step down as the country’s pres­i­dent when his ANC pres­i­dency ends in De­cem­ber?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word NEXT and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50 ANC even if you don’t love it. They can talk. They can an­a­lyse on TV 24 hours a day‚ they can never change the ANC,” said the man who in the past decade has changed the ANC from a party fo­cused on devel­op­ment and progress to a party fo­cused on de­fend­ing his and his cronies’ cor­rup­tion.

It may not be pre­pared to see and ac­knowl­edge it now, but the ANC will re­alise over the next few months why it should have grabbed the op­por­tu­nity to re­claim power from the Gup­tas.


By pro­long­ing Zuma’s stay in power, even if it is just until its De­cem­ber lead­er­ship con­fer­ence, the ANC has en­sured that the Gupta fam­ily con­sol­i­dates its grip on power. Over the next few months, Zuma and the rest of the Gupta syn­di­cate will en­gage in a fi­nal bout of loot­ing and cov­er­ing up of their mis­deeds. We should ex­pect sev­eral bomb­shell decisions from the high­est of­fice and Gupta-owned min­is­ters which, just like the Cab­i­net reshuf­fles, will not have orig­i­nated in le­git­i­mate cen­tres of power.

It is a well-known fact that the en­er­gies of the pres­i­dent will be sucked up by the many court bat­tles that he will be em­broiled in. There are too many to de­tail here, but one thing that is cer­tain is that there are go­ing to be some ex­haust­ing months ahead, in which the nar­ra­tive of a dirty pres­i­dent will play out in the houses of law.


One of the strong­est ar­gu­ments against re­call­ing Zuma was that this would fuel the dis­unity that is rip­ping the ANC apart ahead of the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence.

Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe made an im­pas­sioned ap­peal to MPs not to back the mo­tion be­cause the ANC would not be able to agree on a can­di­date to re­place Zuma, a sce­nario that would force an early elec­tion. There is a con­cern in the ANC that, if an elec­tion were to be held now, the party would not be able to win an out­right ma­jor­ity, thus en­abling op­po­si­tion par­ties to cob­ble to­gether a na­tional coali­tion govern­ment as they did in the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal sphere. A fur­ther ar­gu­ment is that, with­out the ANC as a gov­ern­ing pil­lar, South Africa would be plunged into in­sta­bil­ity.

This too does not hold wa­ter. The fac­tions are al­ready deeply en­trenched and the ha­tred so deep that gov­er­nance is be­ing paral­ysed at var­i­ous lay­ers of state. Within the party, the cen­tre is not hold­ing, with Luthuli House sim­ply serv­ing as postal ad­dress and a con­ve­nient meet­ing venue for the top brass.

Things will only get worse be­tween now and De­cem­ber.


The longer Zuma is in power, the more in­tense street protests against him will be­come. We may not quite get to the point of Venezuela, but they will be quite dis­rup­tive and – given some of the el­e­ments that in­fil­trate le­git­i­mate protests – could de­gen­er­ate into ug­li­ness. Just look at the ser­vice de­liv­ery up­ris­ings, labour strikes and univer­sity protests.

And the longer the cul­ture of street protests lasts, the more nor­malised it be­comes and the harder it will be to deal with is­sues through for­mal chan­nels.


Through its de­fence of Zuma over the years – and most spec­tac­u­larly this week – the ANC has made its brand a Zuma brand.

The party needed, and still needs, a vis­i­ble dis­as­so­ci­a­tion from Zuma’s soiled im­age.

This week was the op­por­tu­nity and the ANC failed. This will be remembered by the elec­torate in by-elec­tions and the big one in 2019.


What Zuma has suc­cess­fully done is to erode the le­git­i­macy of the state and present it as a cen­tre of rot. Again, there was an op­por­tu­nity this week to send a mes­sage that the rot­ten im­age of the Zuma-Gupta axis is one that the gov­ern­ing party is un­com­fort­able with.


Those who ar­gued for a stay of ex­e­cu­tion be­lieve the na­tion should be pa­tient as Zuma will be forced to exit state of­fice af­ter De­cem­ber, 18 months ahead of time.

But will he?


CLEAR MES­SAGE Mem­bers of the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers dur­ing a march to the Union Build­ings on Au­gust 8, call­ing on em­bat­tled Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to step down


FAN CLUB ANC protesters in sup­port of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma watch par­lia­men­tary pro­ceed­ings on a big screen out­side Par­lia­ment in Cape Town on Tues­day


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