THE ANC IS ITS OWN WORST EN­EMY

The gov­ern­ing party’s in­struc­tion to its sup­port­ers not to wear ANC colours to Ja­cob Zuma’s court ap­pear­ances in Dur­ban could cost it sup­port in KwaZulu-Na­tal, writes Bhun­gani Ka Mzolo

CityPress - - Voices & Careers - Ka Mzolo is a Gaut­eng-based so­cial and me­dia com­men­ta­tor

There is a say­ing in isiZulu: “Uzen­zile akakhalelwa, kukhalelwa uzumek­ile.” In the Queen’s lan­guage, it can be in­ter­preted thus: “Those who know­ingly cause them­selves tragedies can­not ex­pect sym­pa­thy from oth­ers, only those who were asleep or ig­no­rant can.”

For some time now, opin­ion mak­ers, such as po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts, cer­tain aca­demics and news­pa­per ed­i­tors have said the ANC is its own worst en­emy. The ANC has been in the po­lit­i­cal game for over a cen­tury and so it can­not be said it is like Alice in Won­der­land, which is to say taken by sur­prise, with re­gard to the trou­bles it has been fac­ing in re­cent his­tory. So it can ex­pect no sym­pa­thy from the rest of us.

Whether one agrees or not with this state­ment de­pends on which side of pop­ulism one is stand­ing. What clearly is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion is that, in this coun­try, op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal par­ties do not have to work very hard to gain po­lit­i­cal points from the rul­ing ANC. It gives out those points, cheaply, to op­po­si­tion par­ties on a sil­ver plat­ter.

I have tried to make sense of the lead­er­ship’s di­rec­tive to ANC mem­bers not to rally around former pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma as he faces crim­i­nal charges in a Dur­ban court. I can’t. There are three rea­sons why that po­si­tion makes no sense.

Firstly, po­lit­i­cally, it amounts to cut­ting your nose to spite your face. When South Africans go to elec­tions next year, there will most cer­tainly still be a huge num­ber of peo­ple, espe­cially in KwaZulu-Na­tal, who feel greatly ag­grieved by that stance, and who will re­mem­ber it when the glo­ri­ous move­ment wants their votes. The end re­sult of such a sit­u­a­tion is that op­po­si­tion par­ties in KwaZulu-Na­tal, espe­cially the Inkatha Free­dom Party and Na­tional Free­dom Party, could find them­selves the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of those dis­grun­tled vot­ers. In short, we could see the vote for the ANC in KwaZulu-Na­tal greatly re­duced.

Those with long mem­o­ries will re­mem­ber that quite a num­ber of peo­ple, many of them not nec­es­sar­ily ANC mem­bers, voted for the party, as many of them be­lieved that Zuma was the vic­tim of a po­lit­i­cal and gov­ern­ment con­spir­acy in the run-up to the ANC’s Polok­wane con­fer­ence in 2007.

But urg­ing mem­bers to with­draw their sup­port for Zuma makes a lot of sense if you are among those who stand to gain some­thing (such as a po­si­tion in the new ad­min­is­tra­tion, or if you are still hurt­ing in­side be­cause you did not get what you ex­pected to get un­der Zuma’s ad­min­is­tra­tion) from Zuma’s trou­bles. There are huge amounts of bile com­ing from the mouths in that quar­ter.

Newly elected ANC pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa is very much aware of this, since he has con­cerns of his own. He knows the sup­port from the ANC Youth League, the ANC Women’s League and cer­tain prov­inces is hang­ing by a thread. To com­pound that sit­u­a­tion, even within the top six, there are gap­ing di­vi­sions.

Se­condly, the di­rec­tive to for­bid mem­bers to sup­port Zuma at court is non­sen­si­cal since, in this coun­try, all of us, in­clud­ing a former pres­i­dent, are in­no­cent un­til a court pro­nounces oth­er­wise. It is as non­sen­si­cal as claim­ing that, all of a sud­den, Zuma is fo­ment­ing eth­nic vi­o­lence in KwaZulu-Na­tal fol­low­ing his re­call. Those who are not blinded by their hate of the man, or who can still con­trol their need to in­gra­ti­ate them­selves with the new ad­min­is­tra­tion, know that Zuma played no small part in end­ing that vi­o­lence in that part of the coun­try.

Third and last, to say peo­ple should not wear ANC colours in court is just pure mal­ice and vin­dic­tive­ness, since, firstly, Zuma has not shown any in­cli­na­tions that he wants to form a break­away fac­tion/op­po­si­tion party; and se­condly, he is still, by all ac­counts, a mem­ber of his party in good stand­ing.

While I hold no brief for Zuma, I have al­ways held the view that it is both il­log­i­cal and ir­ra­tional for any­one to ex­pect him not to de­fend him­self when he is be­ing abused, vil­i­fied and made the scape­goat of some of the blun­ders of the ANC.

In­deed, I go along with those who urge Zuma to start to tell his own story, to ex­pose some of those who are also guilty of some of the charges he is fac­ing. In short, si­lence is most def­i­nitely not golden in this sit­u­a­tion.

PHOTO: TE­BOGO LET­SIE

Ja­cob Zuma out­side the Dur­ban Mag­is­trates’ Court, where he ap­peared on charges of cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing

STILL SMIL­ING

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