ANC Watch

Maybe not terminal, but ANC in serious trouble


It might be too early to predict the death of the African National Congress – as some of its own family already do – but, that it needs intensive care, is beyond doubt.

How serious this illness is and how it has penetrated the party’s micro organs, even affecting the very DNA of the organisation, is illustrated by the assessment of former ANC-minister and -stalwart, Essop Pahad, that the branches of the party – its  "heart and soul" – are in disarray.

And, in an open letter to the party’s recent National Executive (NEC) meeting, ANC stalwarts wrote: “The ANC, dear comrades, is falling apart as you meet and the country, supporters and members of the ANC are looking for leadership that must and should take us out of this nightmare.".

To what extent the ‘illness’ is also affecting the close ‘family’ of the party and could pose a serious threat to wider social stability, is also illustrated by incidents like the one that occurred just last week when the lives of South Africa Communist Party  deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, and his family were threatened by people “dressed in the name of 'MK Foundation' and … accompanied by cameras from the Gupta-owned television channel ANN7.”

The common denominator, in both the examples quoted above, is the position of the president of the ANC, and because of that position also President of the country, Mr Jacob Zuma and the issue of so-called state capture, that has completely dominated the South African political scene over recent times.

However, the problem goes much deeper, is more fundamental and goes much further back than just the state-capture-fever of recent times.

Extent of the affliction

ANC stalwarts and veterans have pleaded with the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to show leadership over serious state capture concerns, ahead of its recent meeting.

They have asked the NEC in an open letter to seriously consider removing President Jacob Zuma and "all those who are party to this Project of State Capture".

This was followed a speech by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at a Cosatu Central committee meeting. He named no names, but spoke about capturing the forces that have captured the state.

Then came the leaking of thousands of Gupta linked emails confirming the breath-taking extent – both in depth and breath – of state capture by the Zuma/Gupta network. It stretches across the entire political and public sectors controlled by the ANC, in turn controlled by the Zuma faction of the party.

At least three broad formations can now be identified in the party: A smallish openly but growing anti-Zuma group; a larger, but shrinking, pro-Zuma group; and, the largest, confused and thus far uncommitted, middle group.

The battle for the heart and soul of the ANC is truly on. In the in the process the governance of the country has become dangerously haphazard as the governing party is increasingly becoming an organisation at war with itself. 

The war is playing itself out on various fronts. It happens from parliamentary committees, where it has become a regular occurrence for ANC MPs to confront members of the Zuma cabinet, like in the case of the social grants mismanagement, to intervention in the failing management of state enterprises like Eskom, South African Airways, and the public broadcaster (SABC).

The main battleground

The main battleground to watch, however, is the reaction to the increasing calls for a judicial commission of inquiry into ‘state capture,’ as recommended by the previous Public Protector.

While the ANC itself has now declared support for such a commission, there are indications that not all factions in the ANC, its alliance partners and organisational structures have the same aims in mind with regards to the outcomes from the commission.

The first round of developments on this battle front to watch, will be the composition and terms of reference of the commission. While the PP recommended, the South African Communist Party (SACP), Cosatu, and various civil society organisation have called for the appointment of a commission totally independent of a compromised President Zuma, he and his faction has something different in mind. 

Judged by the ANC’s official response to the matter, utterances, and legal actions by Mr Zuma, indicate a different approach.

They are clearly looking at something similar to the Seriti-commission into the infamous weapons deal – aiming for buying time and a cover-up. Looking at their punted brief for the commission, there will be an attempt to create diversions, fracturing of focus and deflections.

They want to extend the scope of the inquiry to include ‘white minority capital,’ and to include the period before the first democratic elections of 1994, probably hoping to dilute the attention to the relationship between the Guptas and the Zuma-administration, while creating a ‘sub judice sheild’ to hide behind while the inquiry is ongoing.

This might buy enough time for Zuma to get a proxy leader as his successor to protect him, or in the extreme, to retire to a location where he is out of the reach of South African legal authorities.

ANC-risks of strategy 

However, there are serious risks for the ANC in this developing strategy. With the spreading contamination by thousands of leaked Gupta linked e-mails, the need for present key political players in the ANC, to put distance between themselves and what has become known as the “mafia-state,’ might just become too big.

There is a real danger that a point might be reached, where ‘fractioning’ might morph into a splitting-up. And, don’t expect it to be as mild an affair as when it first happened almost a decade ago.

 The impact of what is happening on the voter’s in the country is difficult the judge or predict, but the danger that the ANC can lose the election in 2019 is certainly increasing. And with it, the possibility that within a decade the party can be reduced to a mere mention on the pages of history books.

by Intelligence Bulletin Team

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