JZ fac­tor may end ANC pole po­si­tion

Di­vi­sions, dis­ar­ray in KZN may be the last straw

The Sunday Independent - - Front Page - BONGANI HANS AND LUNGANI ZUNGU

THE in­fight­ing in the ANC and for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s ma­noeu­vrings on the ground will end the gov­ern­ing party’s two-decades-long elec­toral dom­i­nance and force it into a coali­tion government, an­a­lysts say. The ANC has never been below the 60% mark in the gen­eral elec­tions, but it seems that proud record is in great dan­ger when the coun­try goes to the polls next year.

This week­end’s aborted pro­vin­cial elec­tive con­fer­ence in Em­pan­geni has stirred great con­ster­na­tion among the party’s lead­er­ship.

The first signs that the ANC’s grip on the vot­ing pub­lic was loos­en­ing be­came ev­i­dent when the party fared badly in the 2016 lo­cal government elec­tions and claimed only 54% of the votes cast. The ANC lost three key met­ros, Jo­han­nes­burg, Nel­son Man­dela Bay and Tsh­wane, dur­ing the 2016 polls.

But with the once-united party in KwaZulu-Na­tal in tat­ters, it re­mains to be seen how the party will fare.

Pro­vin­cial task team co-or­di­na­tor Sihle Zikalala con­ceded that the ANC was not ready to start cam­paign­ing for next year’s elec­tions with­out a per­ma­nent struc­ture. “You need sta­bil­ity when you go into elec­tions. We need lead­er­ship with author­ity and pow­ers, not just some del­e­gated pow­ers to lead the elec­tion cam­paign,” he said.

The rifts in the ANC in KZN, Zuma’s home prov­ince, forced the can­ning of the ANC KZN pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence, which led to re­newed talk of a split in the party af­ter ANC na­tional chair­per­son Gwede Man­tashe was booed.

The elec­tive con­fer­ence was meant to have taken place be­tween Fri­day and to­day, but it was abruptly can­celled af­ter the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg High Court ruled in favour of a group of dis­grun­tled ANC mem­bers who wanted it called off.

‘‘The court ap­pli­cants were from the Moses Mab­hida, Lower South Coast and Harry Gwala re­gions. En­tire re­gional lead­er­ships have been dis­banded.’’

ANC del­e­gates who spoke to In­de­pen­dent Me­dia said the court de­ci­sion would have a detri­men­tal ef­fect on ef­forts to kick­start cam­paigns in their ar­eas.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Im­raan Buc­cus said the frag­men­ta­tion of the ANC showed that, two-and-a-half decades af­ter lib­er­a­tion, the party was fol­low­ing the same pat­tern as other lib­er­a­tion move­ments in Africa.

“And the key fig­ure in this frag­men­ta­tion is Ja­cob Zuma,” Buc­cus said.

He said the frac­tures in the pro­vin­cial ANC were “ex­tremely wor­ry­ing” and could, on the one hand, lead to an ir­re­triev­able break­down or to “an event­ful unity slate” once court pro­ceed­ings and the con­fer­ence ended.

Buc­cus added that good gov­er­nance had very lit­tle to do with be­ing in power.

An­other an­a­lyst, Pro­fes­sor Bheki Mn­gomezulu, a pol­i­tics lec­turer at the Univer­sity of the Western Cape, said: “The ANC failed to deal with the Zuma mat­ter from the on­set by re­call­ing him and mak­ing him a vic­tim. Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa was set up.

“We are go­ing to have a coali­tion government if the ANC fails to deal with the cri­sis be­set­ting the or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

Mn­gomezulu added that coali­tion gov­ern­ments are by na­ture chaotic.

He re­ferred to the chaos that has en­gulfed the Nel­son Man­dela Bay metro, which is gov­erned by a coali­tion be­tween the DA, EFF and UDM.

Zuma re­signed in Fe­bru­ary amid mount­ing pres­sure for him to leave the Union Build­ings.

Zakhele Ndlovu, a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst from the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Na­tal, said the ANC had not shown that it had learnt from its mis­takes, which would af­fect its elec­tion cam­paign.

“Their le­gal ad­vis­ers should have ad­vised them to post­pone the event as there were peo­ple who felt that they had been un­fairly ex­cluded.

“Peo­ple would not want to vote for peo­ple who are not united. I guar­an­tee you that the ANC is not ready for the (poll) cam­paigns,” said Ndlovu.

While the ANC lurched from one cri­sis to the next, Zuma seemed to have an iron grip on na­tional and pro­vin­cial pol­i­tics, es­pe­cially in KwaZulu-Na­tal.

This was ev­i­dent on Fri­day when he ad­dressed scores of sup­port­ers who at­tended his court ap­pear­ance.

Shortly af­ter ap­pear­ing in the Dur­ban High Court on cor­rup­tion charges, Zuma told a crowd out­side the court that he was “tired of all those who spoke about him” and he was no longer will­ing to be “nice”.

He again told his crit­ics to stop “pro­vok­ing him”. This was seen as a thinly veiled warn­ing to his for­mer strong ally, SACP gen­eral sec­re­tary Blade Nz­i­mande, who had ac­cused Zuma of be­ing at the cen­tre of a push-back cam­paign against those were fight­ing cor­rup­tion.

Zuma said those who ac­cused him of cor­rup­tion were in­volved in cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties them­selves and dis­missed the case against him as “po­lit­i­cal”. His diehard al­lies, in­clud­ing for­mer North West pre­mier Supra Mahumapelo, for­mer SABC chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng, for­mer agri­cul­ture MEC Me­shack Radebe, for­mer co-op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance min­is­ter Des van Rooyen and Snuki Zikalala were in court.

KZN, North West and Free State were claimed to be be­hind a break­away party but Muhamapelo rub­bished this on Fri­day.

MKMVA leader Carl Niehaus at­tacked Zuma’s crit­ics, say­ing the SACP had gone too far by ac­cus­ing him of split­ting the ANC and be­ing be­hind a new “break­away” party.

Zuma’s new ally, Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxi­tama, said there was a clear at­tempt from the anti-rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion (RET) forces in the ANC “led by Ramaphosa to de­mor­alise, di­vide and con­fuse our peo­ple” who are sup­port­ing Zuma.

An­other po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst, Tha­bani Khu­malo, be­lieved that the ANC in KZN’s fail­ure to hold a con­fer­ence showed that the cur­rent lead­er­ship, the ANC’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, had failed the party.

He said a dis­as­ter was in the wings in next year’s gen­eral elec­tions.

He said that if the NEC was de­ci­sive enough, it would have called off any re­gional or pro­vin­cial con­fer­ences un­til af­ter the 2019 elec­tions.

Khu­malo said the sit­u­a­tion in the prov­ince was dire and KwaZulu-Na­tal has be­come known as the prov­ince of death, killings, con­flict and fac­tion­al­ism.

He said that a party could not call for an elec­tive con­fer­ence if the branches were not prop­erly con­sti­tuted.

“The prob­lems are with the branches. Peo­ple have been killing each other and then they go to a con­fer­ence? How did that make sense?”

Khu­malo said the be­hav­iour of del­e­gates at the con­fer­ence was “anti-ANC tra­di­tions”.

PICTURES: DOC­TOR NGCOBO/ AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

IN FIGHT­ING MODE: For­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma dances and stirs up his sup­port­ers with fiery rhetoric af­ter his brief court ap­pear­ance on Fri­day.

CLUS­TER OF CRONIES: For­mer North West pre­mier Supra Mahumapelo, Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng and Des van Rooyen were at the Dur­ban High Court on Fri­day to sup­port for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

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