JZ TAKING ANC DOWN
Party must pull together to be force in elections – experts
THE INFIGHTING in the ANC and former president Jacob Zuma’s machinations on the ground will end its two-decade electoral dominance and force it into a coalition government, say analysts.
The ANC has been assured of 60% of the votes cast in general elections since 1994, but that could be in danger when the country goes to the polls next year.
The weekend’s aborted provincial elective conference in Empangeni has worried party leaders.
The first signs that its grip on the voting public was loosening became evident when the ANC fared badly in the 2016 local government elections, securing only 54% of the vote.
The ANC lost three key metros, Joburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane, in 2016.
The ANC’S provincial task team co-ordinator, Sihle Zikalala, conceded the ANC was not ready to start campaigning for next year’s elections without a permanent structure.
“You need stability when you go to elections. We need leadership with authority and power, not just delegated power, to lead the campaign,” said Zikalala.
But with the once-united province of Kwazulu-natal, previously a drawcard, in tatters, it remains to be seen how the party will fare next year.
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.
ANC national chairman Gwede Mantashe was booed at the aborted conference. Zikalala later apologised to him.
The elective conference was meant to have taken place from Friday until today, but it was abruptly cancelled after the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled in favour of some disgruntled ANC members for it to be cancelled.
The court applicants are from Moses Mabhida, Lower South Coast and Harry Gwala regions whose whole regional leadership had been disbanded.
ANC delegates who spoke to the Sunday Tribune expressed concern. They said the court decision would have a detrimental effect on them kick-starting campaigns in their areas.
Zikalala said the branches wanted the conference to sit in six weeks’ time.
Political analyst Imraan Buccus said the fragmentation of the ANC showed that two-and-a-half decades into liberation the party was following the same pattern of other liberation movements in Africa.
“And the key figure in this fragmentation is Jacob Zuma,” he said.
Buccus said the fractures in the provincial ANC were “extremely worrying” and could mean an irretrievable breakdown or, might be “an eventful unity slate” once the court proceedings and the conference ended.
Buccus said good governance had little to do with being in power.
Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, a politics lecturer from the University of the Western Cape, said: “The ANC failed to deal with the Zuma matter by recalling him and making him a victim. President Cyril Ramaphosa was set up. We are going to see coalition governments if the ANC fails to deal with the crisis.”
Coalition governments were chaotic, he said, referring to the conflict in Nelson Mandela Bay, which was governed by a coalition of the DA, EFF and United Democratic Movement.
Zuma resigned in February after mounting pressure for him to leave the Union Buildings. This angered his supporters.
Zakhele Ndlovu, a political analyst from the University of Kwazulu-natal, said the ANC did not show a willingness to learn 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 they were unfairly excluded.
“People would not want to vote for those who are not united. I can guarantee the ANC is not ready for campaigning,” 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 KZN. This was evident on Friday when he addressed scores of his supporters who attended his court appearance.
Shortly after appearing in the Durban High Court on corruption charges, Zuma told supporters 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 one-time ally, Blade Nzimande, the SACP general secretary who accused Zuma of being at the centre of a push-back campaign against those fighting corruption.
His diehard allies, including former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, former SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, former agriculture MEC Meshack Radebe, former co-operative governance minister Des van Rooyen and Zikalala were in court.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo believes the failure of the ANC in KZN to hold a conference showed that the current leadership, the national executive committee, had failed the party.
He said a disaster was waiting to happen in next year’s general elections – a party could not call for an elective conference if the branches were not properly constituted.
Elton Jantjies, Siya Kolisi,willie le Roux and Aphiwe Dyantyi. With Kolisi their first black captain, South Africa began a new rugby era with a dramatic 42-39 victory over England in the first Test at Ellis Park yesterday. See page 28