Zuma can’t change traditions willy-nilly
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma is right. There is no official policy that notes that the vice-president of the party has to succeed the president. But what he is not saying is that there is a convention – a well accepted practice within the party that has been cemented in post-1994 South Africa.
Ironically, one of the major reasons for his ascent to power was the appeal to this sentiment that Thabo Mbeki could not sideline him and deny him the presidency. Thus the question is why all of a sudden Zuma and his allies want to deny this patent fact?
The answer is simple. Contrary to all the assertions that we are hearing from the ANC that the “nominations” for the presidency are not yet open the cat is out of the bag: intense lobbying is already going on between the supporters of Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and nothing that the ANC says will stop this.
This fact is underlined by the statement Zuma made recently that the party is ready for a woman president which was of course a veiled call to rally support for his ex-wife. Indeed tellingly, both – Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa – have remained mum about all of this lobbying around their names showing that they are in agreement with what is going on.
This then brings to the fore why the ANC wants to cling to the antiquated view – that is clearly not reality – that no lobbying is allowed in the ANC and it is the branches that nominate leaders.
The public knows very well that this is just diplomatic talk. Right before Polokwane it was an open secret that the Zuma and Mbeki camps were rigorously pitching their candidates. Kgalema Motlanthe, in all naivety in the lead up to the Mangaung conference, thought that he could appeal to delegates at the conference and he dismally failed.
Which raises a very interesting observation that ANC elective conferences are not decided at the occasion. They are decided in the lead up to such events. Therefore, the December conference is just going to be a mere formality.
In this regard, the ANC must just jettison this pretence. It is true during the Struggle against apartheid there was no time to be involved in power contestations as there was a bigger enemy out there to confront and all energy had to be focused on this.
But times have changed. Anybody who wants to lead the ANC and consequently the country must come out into the open and be scrutinised by the whole of society. Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma not only owe this to card-carrying members of the ANC, but the whole country because ultimately they want to lead it.
Thus they must tell us why they are fit to do so – and not do it in the dark and only appraise branch members of the ANC of their intentions. Equestria, Pretoria East
President Jacob Zuma and then-deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe bidding farewell to Nkosazana DlaminiZuma during the debate to congratulate her on being elected chairwoman of the AU Commission held in Parliament in 2012.