Where to for Zuma and the ANC?

    By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

    At the back of it’s worst electoral decline since South Africa became a democracy in 1994, the ANC is this year entering a year that could see this once proud liberation movement tearing itself apart.

    That is if the ANC fails to rise to the occasion in its election year and allow the forces of division to overwhelm it.

    For some veterans of the ANC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) , there’s one common problem facing a brighter future for the party and the country. That problem is Jacob Zuma.

    These cadres all believe that Zuma is a liability. They blame him for the decline in the electoral vote in the national elections of 2014 and last year’s municipal elections.

    However, in the interest of fairness it needs to be mentioned that history shows that elected municipal officials have robbed many communities of a better life since South Africa became a democracy in 1994 and since the first local government elections in 1996.
    Reasons for these vary of course. Other people have complained that the majority of the candidates are chosen by parties, a lot of the time they are not necessarily known in the wards they seek to lead.
    Or that they lack the right struggle credentials and leadership capacity to turn things around in their constituencies.
    Even the independent candidates, some people have complained are not people who have clarified what they would do differently if they were to be elected to be Councillors.
    And are  also either not know in-terms of their Struggle credentials, or their capacity to develop their area.

    It has also emerged by residents in various communities, that since the first local government elections in 1996, they have never seen the Councillors they elected or that they have never been invited to a ward meeting or any related event to engage their Councillor and the ward committee.

    But when it’s election time then they are only prioritized before the vote and after the vote then nothing happens.

    And to attest to their unhappiness, the street protests that intensified in 2003 and turned violent have been on the increase.
    In the build up to the August 3 poll, the number of ANC  candidates and Councillors killed became the hallmark of these elections. Most of the killings have taken place in President Jacob Zuma’s home province of Kwazulu-Natal and others in the Eastern Cape and other provinces.
    On a regular basis some form of violence related to service deliver failures turns to occur in South Africa. These have become on the country’s ‘Achilles’ heel’. Even on election day in certain areas violence broke out.
    These were caused by residents opposing the polls because of local government failures.
    However, before it can be declared that the ANC is losing support it also needs to be remembered that historically municipal elections have attracted fewer voters that national election since the dawn of democracy.
    Speculations aside, the ANC still controls 8 of the 9 provinces that make up South Africa.
    Another important aspect to note is that none of the other political parties contesting elections have yet to even reach above the 30% mark of the national vote either in national or municipal elections since 1994.
    Through the numerous so-called scandals associated with Zuma, the talk is that Zuma’s troubles , are costing the ANC support and his detractors within and outside the ANC, have been calling for his removal from office.
    A good example of this is the so-called ‘NKandlagate’, where President Zuma is accused of unduly benefiting from the upgrades at his homestead in Inkandla in the Kwazulu-Natal province.
    Although Zuma has agreed to pay back some of the money, the effects of this saga can still be felt, hence the ANC’s poor performance in the last local government elections, say the anti Zuma sentiments within the movement.
    Zuma still maintains that he personally, did nothing wrong as he didn’t take any money unlawfully for the upgradings at his ‘Nkandla’ home.

    This statement has found support by a leading constitutional expert Pierre de Vos would last year said “Zuma may have a solid Constitutional case to challenge former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s instruction that he set up a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.”

    De Vos has argued, in this case, the powers of the Public Protector as enshrined in the Constitution come in direct conflict with the powers of the president.

    According to de Vos, Madonsela’s report into allegations of state capture made no findings against those implicated within the report – including Zuma, the Gupta family and several ministers; however, it did contain a directive that the president set up a commission of inquiry, with an order the chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng be in charge of establishing it.

    However, president Zuma has since announced that he will take the report on review, saying that the entire report was unfair and had procedural issues. Pertinently, Zuma told Parliament that the Public Protector had no right to tell him what to do or how to do it. And Constitutionally speaking, he may be right, de Vos says.

    For the ANC, the party of Nelson Mandela, the voters are crying for unity, quality leadership and service delivery.

    And what could rescue the ANC from the current quagmire? 

    The solution could come from monthly to weekly meetings organised by elected representatives and their constituencies. This is what many people have been calling for has the service delivery protests.
    If the ANC fails to listen and engage its voters, it must be assured that it will even sink further in decline. in any election, be it national or municipal.
    Notably, is that in the worse case scenario for the ANC, the party could tear itself apart if the Zuma detractors within the ANC up their voice on Zuma’s removal. While on the other hand Zuma supporters would do all it can to defend him and ensure he completes him term of the party in December 2017 and that of the country in 2019.
    In short, the ANC needs to go back to the people, connect and be vocal and visible all the time.

    The ANC has to ask itself that if removing Zuma who has a lot of political muscle, will be a wise move on their part.

    With Zuma as its president, South Africa has become a member of the fastest and biggest growing economies of the world, the BRICS blog; former cabinet minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has just return from heading the African Union Commission as its Chairperson; at least 20 global awards won by cabinet ministers under Zuma’s government; in 2016 Zuma was appointed by UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon to co-chair the United Nations commission on health employment and economic growth alongside his French counterpart, François Hollande.
    Other Zuma achievements and honours since he took office include the King Hintsa Bravery Award in 2012; Jose Marti Award in 2010, Cuba’s highest award; African President of the Year by the African Consciousness Media and the Kenneth Kaunda Foundation in 2009; and many others before he became president.
    South Africa a plan. The National Development Plan (NDP) is a Vision 2030 programme,  offers a long-term perspective. It also defines a desired destination and identifies the role different sectors of society need to play in reaching that goal.

    The NDP further aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.

    Not to forget his many foundations that have helped more thousands of people and students; and Zuma’s appeal to the rank and file of the ANC and the country.
    The ratings agencies are independent groups, which have no legitimacy or authority to be taken seriously. Investors continue to flock to South Africa, particularly from the BRICS bloc.
    Even the rest of Africa is attracting a lot of in investments from the BRICS countries more so that an African chapter of the BRICS bank operates in the continent.
    The best thing for the ANC to do now is to allow the organisation process to continue uninterrupted, while finding a way of making the organisation a fully mass based grassroots movement.
    This, the ANC can achieve easier with Zuma still at the helm.
    In other the current deputy president much succeed Zuma in the ANC elective conference this December and later succeed Zuma as the country’s president after the 2019 national polls.
    Failure to do so, will result into the end of the ‘Party’  as we know it.
    For South Africa, the 2016 elections signaled the coming of age of the country’s democracy. 
    The ANC as the party of liberation can no longer take for granted the black vote as it has accused of doing before. 
    It has to fight for it.

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