Three re­calls that haunt Man­tashe The ANC has re­ceived much crit­i­cism for its re­luc­tance to re­call Pres­i­dent Zuma, but the party has made prom­i­nent re­calls in the past and the con­se­quences of these moves are still fresh in the minds of many.

Finweek English Edition - - OPIN­ION - Edi­to­rial@fin­ served as spokesper­son of the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers for seven years. He cur­rently works as ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor: cor­po­rate re­la­tions at the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Na­tal. He writes in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity.

theANC has been lam­basted re­cently for fail­ing to re­call Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma af­ter the damn­ing Con­sti­tu­tional Court judg­ment on Nkandla, in which it ruled that Zuma was in breach of his oath of of­fice. Op­po­si­tion par­ties, among a range of other crit­ics, called it an act of self­ish­ness on the part of the rul­ing party, and ac­cused the ANC of putting the party be­fore the coun­try.

The rul­ing party has of course al­ways been self­ish and self-cen­tred in mat­ters af­fect­ing the coun­try. Take, for ex­am­ple, how the ANC passed into law the re­cent re­tire­ment re­forms, and then later with­drew them on the in­sis­tence of Cosatu. The main rea­son for this was of course that it is an elec­tion year and the ANC there­fore had to keep a key con­stituency happy. The de­ci­sion was made with the in­ten­tion of amass­ing po­lit­i­cal gains for the party, at the ex­pense of the long-term in­ter­est of the coun­try.

But on the Zuma re­call, ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe ap­pears to have had the ben­e­fit of ex­pe­ri­ence.

he must’ve been re­flect­ing on the time in 1999 when he, as gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (NUM), sanc­tioned and ex­pelled Joseph Mathun­jwa, then the union’s hugely pop­u­lar branch leader at Dou­glas Col­liery in Wit­bank. Mathun­jwa went on to es­tab­lish the As­so­ci­a­tion of Minework­ers and Con­struc­tion Union (Amcu).

Mathun­jwa’s union has grown ag­gres­sively in re­cent years, and is now the largest in the plat­inum sec­tor. In fact, the plat­inum belt is now a no-go area for NUM, the ANC and its al­lies. (And the once-pow­er­ful NUM that in­flu­enced pol­i­tics and eco­nom­ics alike is now barely hang­ing on to the top po­si­tion in the gold sec­tor.) The rise of Mathun­jwa and Amcu did not only al­ter the for­tunes of NUM, and by ex­ten­sion its po­lit­i­cal ally the ANC, but some would ar­gue that its ag­gres­sive de­mands – in 2014, the union led minework­ers in the long­est strike in SA’s his­tory in the plat­inum belt – have al­tered the eco­nom­ics and at­trac­tive­ness of min­ing in SA fun­da­men­tally too.

Man­tashe had just be­come sec­re­tary gen­eral of the ANC when the party’s top brass de­cided to re­call for­mer pres­i­dent from of­fice, lead­ing to an ex­o­dus of se­nior ANC mem­bers from the party and the es­tab­lish­ment of the Congress of the Peo­ple (Cope).

Cope may barely ex­ist to­day, but the party won close to 1.5m votes, or 7.42% of the vote, in the gen­eral elec­tion in 2009, and be­came the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion in five pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tures. Af­ter the ANC re­ceived 69.7% of votes in 2004 (a two-thirds ma­jor­ity), sup­port for the rul­ing party fell to 65.9% in 2009. Thus, Mbeki’s re­call from of­fice had a neg­a­tive ef­fect on the party’s for­tunes as many mem­bers de­fected to Cope.

from the ANC was that of Julius Malema, now the neme­sis of the rul­ing party and com­man­der-in-chief of the EFF. Malema’s ex­pul­sion from the ANC con­trib­uted to a drop in sup­port in the 2014 elec­tions, where it re­ceived 62.15% of the vote. The ar­rival of the EFF has dra­mat­i­cally al­tered the work­ings of Par­lia­ment, and youth ac­tivism has been in­vig­o­rated. Many within the rul­ing party re­gret and blame their lead­ers for Malema’s ex­pul­sion and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing mis­for­tunes.

Man­tashe and his sup­port­ers’ re­luc­tance to act against Zuma is there­fore per­haps un­der­stand­able. The con­se­quences of such a move may prove to be dev­as­tat­ing not only for the ANC, but for the coun­try as a whole. Given Zuma’s power grip on KwaZu­luNatal, Mpumalanga, the North West, Free State and the East­ern Cape, as well as the ANC Youth League, the Women’s League and the Mil­i­tary Vet­er­ans League, who would want to take the risk of re­call­ing him?

Let’s not for­get the con­se­quences of Mathun­jwa, Mbeki and Malema’s ex­pul­sions. Mbeki’s exit brought us a Zumocrocy, which is far re­moved from Mbeki’s fo­cus on sound eco­nom­ics and good gov­er­nance. With Malema’s exit, the youth have been mo­bilised and are run­ning amok, as il­lus­trated by the tur­moil on univer­sity cam­puses. With Mathun­jwa, the min­ing econ­omy faces a dif­fer­ent genre of mu­sic and is still reel­ing from the 2014 plat­inum strike.

Zuma’s re­call would in all like­li­hood lead to chaos both po­lit­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally, un­less he of­fers to vol­un­tar­ily step aside, a move he is un­likely to make. It ap­pears the rul­ing party may re­call him at our peril.

Let’s not for­get the con­se­quences of Mathun­jwa, Mbeki and Malema’s ex­pul­sions. Mbeki’s exit brought us a Zumocrocy.

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