Defin­ing mo­ment

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

WHEN the ANC’s pol­icy ind­aba draws to a close later this week, and when all the pluses and mi­nuses are tot­ted up, the per­son who will have the most to con­tem­plate will be Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

In pol­i­tics, there is a fine line be­tween a mo­ment of mind-bog­gling in­spi­ra­tion and an in­stance which ob­servers will re­mem­ber long af­ter­wards as an ex­am­ple of a mon­u­men­tal mess-up. We be­lieve that Zuma messed up badly. In try­ing to crush the in­creas­ingly crit­i­cal group­ing of ANC vet­er­ans and stal­warts, we be­lieve he over-es­ti­mated his pop­u­lar­ity among the branches of the ANC.

It is true that the vet­er­ans have moved away from their pre­vi­ous po­si­tion of of­fer­ing to help an in­creas­ingly trou­bled ANC to re­solve a range of dif­fi­cult prob­lems, to want­ing to play a big­ger, more de­ci­sive role in nurs­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion back to full, ro­bust health.

It is true too that the vet­er­ans have been scathing in their opin­ion of the strength and ex­per­tise of the branches.

And it is cer­tainly true that many of these stal­warts, per­haps the ma­jor­ity of them, be­lieve that Zuma should step down from the pres­i­dency.

This crit­i­cism is not some­thing Zuma would have liked.

And in an au­di­to­rium filled with up to 5 000 del­e­gates, he ob­vi­ously be­lieved him­self to be among sup­port­ers.

And so he de­cided to grab the op­por­tu­nity, telling del­e­gates that the vet­er­ans be­lieved they were su­pe­rior to them.

But the ex­pected roar of out­rage did not oc­cur. Small pock­ets ex­pressed sup­port for Zuma, but the rest were silent.

Far from silent though was stal­wart Syd­ney Mufamadi, who ac­cused the pres­i­dent of dis­tor­tion and of be­ing eco­nom­i­cal with the truth.

“South Africa is in a cri­sis – and it is only the pres­i­dent who doesn’t seem to re­alise this,” Mufamadi said.

Even more sig­nif­i­cant though was the re­sponse of a serv­ing mem­ber of Zuma’s cab­i­net, Hu­man Set­tle­ments Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu. “I did not think he would launch an at­tack like that on the vet­er­ans. He is big­ger than that.

“I wasn’t happy – and I couldn’t hide it,” she said.

The ANC vet­er­ans and stal­warts are highly re­garded by the ma­jor­ity of ANC mem­bers and, in­deed, by mem­bers of the pub­lic at large.

We be­lieve Zuma was out of line – and for this there should be con­se­quences.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.