ANC has to deal with smolanyana skele­tons

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Sunday World - - Opinion - Lizwe lethu!

EVEN that fam­ily, if peo­ple feel it has to be brought to book, struc­tures must do that, the of­fi­cials must call them and talk to them and give them a march­ing or­der not through shout­ing out­side be­cause all of us in the NEC [ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee] have our small skele­tons and we don t want to take all skele­tons out be­cause hell will break loose.

South Africa s Min­is­ter of So­cial Devel­op­ment Batha­bile Dlamini made this com­ment in New York on March 19 2016, when she was on an of­fi­cial visit.

Dlamini, who is also pres­i­dent of the ANC Women s League, was an­swer­ing ques­tions on rev­e­la­tions that the Gupta fam­ily ex­er­cises an un­tram­melled in­flu­ence on the pres­i­dent of the ANC and the coun­try, Ja­cob Zuma, en­abling them to se­cure lu­cra­tive busi­ness con­tracts from the state.

Dlamini made her com­ments while the ANC s NEC was in the midst of a three-day meet­ing where the sub­ject of the Gup­tas po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence on the ANC gov­ern­ment was dis­cussed. The meet­ing was pre­ceded by wide-rang­ing spec­u­la­tion, in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that Zuma may be re­called. This would have been oc­ca­sioned by the fact that such in­flu­ence sug­gests a cor­rupt re­la­tion­ship and a breach of party dis­ci­pline.

The ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee had no choice but to ta­ble the sub­ject fol­low­ing damn­ing rev­e­la­tions by se­nior ANC fig­ures that they had been ei­ther of­fered jobs or leant on by the Gupta fam­ily. The most star­tling was a pub­lic state­ment from Deputy Finance Min­is­ter Mce­bisi Jonas in which he said that the Gup­tas of­fered him the Min­istry of Finance post in re­turn for favourable lu­cra­tive de­ci­sions. Skele­tons and whether they re­main in the closet

It is un­likely that Zuma could be di­rect­ing the award­ing of con­tracts to­wards the Gup­tas with­out re­ceiv­ing any ben­e­fits in re­turn. Al­ready his son, Duduzane Zuma, has sud­denly be­come a wealthy busi­ness­man ow­ing to his ties with the Gupta fam­ily.

His as­sets in­clude a stake in a com­pany that has min­ing in­ter­ests, on whose be­half the Min­is­ter of Min­eral Re­sources, Mosebenzi Zwane, re­port­edly in­ter­vened to se­cure a busi­ness con­tract. The son may well be a proxy for the fa­ther.

It ap­pears there­fore that Zuma s pres­i­dency is founded on a pa­tron-client net­work. The prob­lem pre­dates his pres­i­dency. His fi­nan­cial needs pre­vi­ously made him vul­ner­a­ble to pa­trons such as Sch­abir Shaik, who fi­nanced Zuma s life­style. Shaik s sub­se­quent im­pris­on­ment shut down that source of in­come. By all ac­counts, the Gupta fam­ily has filled the vac­uum.

Zuma s re­la­tion­ship with the Gup­tas ap­pears to have guided the con­fig­u­ra­tion of his gov­ern­ment, and ap­point­ments into cab­i­net and state-owned com­pa­nies. Some ap­point­ments seem to have been made on con­di­tion that ap­pointees favour Gup­taowned busi­nesses in award­ing con­tracts. This con­duct ap­pears to have be­come the norm in the Zuma pres­i­dency, pos­si­bly ex­tend­ing the pool of clients (or ben­e­fi­cia­ries) be­yond Zuma him­self to in­clude his min­is­ters and state of­fi­cials.

This ex­plains Dlamini s state­ment that all of us in the NEC have our small skele­tons and we don t want to take out all skele­tons out be­cause hell will break loose.”

The de­bate at the NEC meet­ing showed that there is re­sis­tance to keep­ing the skele­tons hid­den. Be­trayal of the ANC s his­tor­i­cal mis­sion The im­pli­ca­tion for the ANC is that Zuma is not en­tirely an­swer­able to the lead­er­ship col­lec­tive. Al­though the pres­i­dency be­stows cer­tain pre­rog­a­tives on its oc­cu­pant, the ex­pec­ta­tion is that they be ex­er­cised in line with party dis­ci­pline and to up­hold the in­tegrity of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Be­ing un­der the spell of a com­pany owned by a fam­ily of for­eign ex­trac­tion the Gupta fam­ily ar­rived in SA 15 years ago is un­flat­ter­ing for an African lib­er­a­tion move­ment. It sug­gests a be­trayal of its his­tor­i­cal mis­sion.

The ANC s rai­son d être is not only the eman­ci­pa­tion of blacks in general and Africans in par­tic­u­lar but also restor­ing their own­er­ship of ma­te­rial re­sources.

Colo­nial dis­pos­ses­sion re­mains the essence of the na­tional griev­ance that fired up the lib­er­a­tion move­ment through­out the 82 years that it took to de­feat racial op­pres­sion. This ex­plains the pop­u­lar slo­gans, shouted pas­sion­ately through the decades: May­ibuye iAfrica! iAfrica, [Let Africa re­turn to its right­ful own­ers! Africa, our land!]

This ex­plains of­fi­cial poli­cies on land resti­tu­tion and black eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment.

Ex­pect­ing Zuma s re­call was not far-fetched. His pres­i­dency has been usurped by ex­pa­tri­ate cap­i­tal, to the ne­glect of as­pi­rant in­dige­nous busi­ness. In­stead of re­call­ing Zuma, how­ever, the ANC s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee re­it­er­ated its con­fi­dence in his lead­er­ship. Zuma re­tains his job, but is no longer un­chal­lenge­able. His de­trac­tors have dis­pensed with si­lence. They ve al­ways known of Zuma s pa­tron­client re­la­tion­ship with the Gup­tas, but now they re em­bold­ened to con­front him. What the fu­ture holds

The dif­fer­ence now is the tim­ing and the fu­ture prospects of in­di­vid­ual politi­cians.

Zuma s term as ANC pres­i­dent ex­pires next year. The suc­ces­sion race has started. This means in­di­vid­ual politi­cians have to pick a side be­tween Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy pres­i­dent, and Zuma s favourite, Nkosazana DlaminiZuma. Pick­ing a win­ning side on time de­ter­mines one s fu­ture prospects.

But that s not the only de­ter­mi­nant. The ANC still has to per­form rel­a­tively well in the lo­cal elec­tions com­ing up by Au­gust and in the 2019 na­tional elec­tions. Vot­ers are likely to pun­ish the ANC for Zuma s im­pro­pri­ety. Al­ready sup­port for the party has dropped by roughly 7% since 2009. A fur­ther drop means fewer seats in mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils and in par­lia­ment.

Con­fronting Zuma is not only about se­cur­ing the ca­reer of in­di­vid­ual politi­cians, but also res­cu­ing the in­tegrity of the party. The two are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked. If Zuma s de­trac­tors are em­bold­ened by self-in­ter­est and con­science, Zuma s de­fend­ers are hard­ened by fear of pos­si­ble reprisals. House of cards

Zuma s re­moval from of­fice would not only spell the end of busi­ness to the Gup­tas, but also pos­si­ble le­gal ac­tion. Their busi­nesses may pos­si­bly be found to be pro­ceeds of crime and, if proven, could be con­fis­cated. For this rea­son, the Gup­tas ex­pect pro­tec­tion from their clients in the NEC. Their ex­pec­ta­tion is based on their pay­backs to these in­di­vid­u­als.

They also have the added lever­age of in­for­ma­tion they can re­lease pub­licly to dis­close who got what. This threat in their re­tort to Jonas was tar­geted not only at him, but also at ev­ery­one else think­ing of com­ing for­ward with in­for­ma­tion.

The Gup­tas will not go down alone. They ll drag the ANC down with them. This is what counted against a de­ci­sion to re­call Zuma. Set­ting up an in­quiry is the best the ANC could come up with at the mo­ment.

But it is un­likely the scandal can be sup­pressed. Some will not be in­tim­i­dated, which means fur­ther rev­e­la­tions that will feed pub­lic out­rage.

The ANC has to re­spond to the pub­lic out­cry, or suf­fer fur­ther elec­toral losses. This means deal­ing with the saga in a way that demon­strates the party dis­ap­proves of such im­pro­pri­ety. The in­quiry will not lead to con­ceal­ment, but is just the be­gin­ning of an un­rav­el­ling.

Ndletyana is as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science at the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg. Source: http://the­con­ver­sa­tion.com/

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