South Africa

ANC’s Catch-22: Party cannot discipline Zuma as this ‘will play into his hands’

24hrs 17 dec20

Former president Jacob Zuma is likely to get away unscathed with having one foot in and one foot out of the ANC.

He has publicly announced he will not vote for the ANC or campaign for it in the 2024 general elections, but would instead vote for the new uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party.

Political analyst Prof Ntsikelelo Breakfast said the ANC would be dealt a blow in terms of its electoral performance as some Zuma supporters would possibly heed his call to vote for other parties, including MK.

Breakfast said research had found that Zuma was more popular than President Cyril Ramaphosa in KwaZulu-Natal.

“What he says does carry weight. Maybe not all the people that support him will walk out of the ANC – although he didn’t say people must walk out of the ANC, rather not vote for it,” he said.

He said despite Zuma’s blatant ill-discipline regarding the party, the repercussions of his behaviour were still unknown.

If the party took a decision to discipline him now they would be playing into his hands.

“He wants them to expel him so that he can say he left the ANC not by choice but because he was forced to leave.

“You are dealing with a person who is very strategic. If they expel him the sympathisers will say it confirms what he is saying – that people have been purged and the ANC is undemocratic.”

ALSO READ: ‘I hope my resignation had a shocking effect on ANC leadership’ – Mavuso Msimang explains U-turn

No to Ramaphosa’s ANC

Despite being a former president of the party and a member for 62 years, Zuma said: “I cannot and will not campaign for the ANC of Ramaphosa.

“My conscience will not allow me to lie to the people of South Africa and to pretend that the ANC of Ramaphosa is the ANC of (Albert) Luthuli, (Oliver) Tambo or (Nelson) Mandela.

“It would be a betrayal to campaign for the ANC under Ramaphosa.”

However, he vowed to stay in the ANC as it was necessary to rescue it from the current leadership.

“I hold a very deep commitment to the ANC. I will die as a member of the ANC,” he said.

Zuma’s announcement might have serious consequences for the ANC as he still enjoys a lot of support in several parts of the country.

ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said the ANC had noted Zuma’s statement and the party had no comment.

ALSO READ: Multi-Party Charter shopping for a presidential candidate?

Zuma Forcing their hand

Zuma’s stance suggests that he wants the ANC to expel him as one of the party’s clauses states that joining or supporting a political organisation or party other than the ANC amounts to misconduct.

Political analyst Daniel Silke said what Zuma was doing was intended to destabilise the ANC and the leadership of Ramaphosa. Silke said this was an attempt to sow divisions in the ANC with a view to weakening the leadership of Ramaphosa.

“If it means that in the election the ANC drops below 50%, this is what Zuma is looking for,” he said.

“His strategy is not to destroy the ANC but to weaken the existing leadership in the ANC and reboot the ANC in the image of the radical economic transformation (RET) brigade.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa responds to Zuma’s announcement: ‘What else can I do?’

Weakening the ANC

“He is looking for a weakened ANC that he can return to or that his followers can return to in a different form so that the ANC will not be Ramaphosa’s ANC but an ANC more receptive to the Zuma faction.”

 Silke said in the process of this action Zuma would add to the fragmentation already existing in the ANC and this was “extremely damaging” for the party ahead of the elections. The move had the potential to undermine the ANC completely, especially in KZN.

 “This action from Zuma is likely to help all the opposition parties. “A weaker ANC helps the opposition parties.”

He said the real challenge for the ANC and Ramaphosa was how they would react to Zuma, as expelling him would cause even more divisions in the party.

“If he is campaigning against the ANC, you would expect them to expel him.

“If they want to be seen as strong and decisive, they have to expel him. “I don’t think they can tolerate a position where you have a high-profile former leader who is actively campaigning and advising voters to vote for another party,” said Silke.

NOW READ: ANC members with criminal records or facing disciplinary action barred from being nominated as MPs