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Jacob Zuma poised to bring ANC down with him

By Lungani Zungu | IOL |

The infighting within the ANC and former President Jacob Zuma’s current manoeuvres could end the ruling party’s two-decade-long electoral dominance and force it into a coalition government, warn analysts.

Former president Jacob Zuma in court. File photo Felix Dlangamandla/Pool
Former president Jacob Zuma in court. File photo Felix Dlangamandla/Pool

Votes for the ANC have never dipped below 60% since the first general election in 1994, but it seems that proud record is in danger when the country goes to the polls next year.

This weekend’s aborted Provincial Elective Conference in KwaZulu-Natal has left the party’s leadership bewildered.

The ANC’s KZN provincial task team co-ordinator Sihle Zikalala conceded that the party was not ready to start campaigning for next year’s election without a permanent structure.

“You need stability when you go to elections, we need leadership with authority and powers, not just some delegated powers to lead the election campaign,” said Zikalala.

The rifts in the party in Zuma’s home province forced the ANC KZN provincial conference to be aborted this weekend and led to renewed talk of a split in party structures because of those sympathetic to Zuma.

ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe was booed at the conference and Zikalala forced to apologised to him. 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 some disgruntled ANC members for it to be cancelled.

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The court applicants are from Moses Mabhida, Lower South Coast and Gwala regions where the whole regional leadership had been disbanded.

ANC delegates expressed concerns, saying the court decision would have a detrimental effect on campaigns in their areas.

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,” Buccus said.

He said the fractures in the provincial ANC were “extremely worrying” and could mean an irretrievable breakdown once the court proceedings and the conference ended.

Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, a politics lecturer from the University of the Western Cape, said: “The ANC failed to deal with the Zuma matter from the onset

“President Cyril Ramaphosa was set up. We are going to have a coalition government if the ANC fails to deal with (its) crisis.”

Zuma resigned in February after pressure mounted for him to leave the Union Buildings. This angered his supporters.

Zakhele Ndlovu, a political analyst from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said the party did not show 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.”

While the ANC lurched from one crisis to the next, Zuma sang and danced on Friday when he addressed supporters who attended his appearance at the Durban High Court.

He told the crowd that he was “tired of all those who spoke about him” and he was no longer willing to be “nice”.

This was seen as a thinly veiled threat directed at his former ally, SACP general-secretary Blade Nzimande, who accused Zuma of being at the centre of push-back campaign against those who were fighting corruption.