JZ factor may end ANC pole position
Divisions, disarray in KZN may be the last straw
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”.
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.