We can expect more publicity stunts from opposition parties in the coming months, but South Africa’s future will really be determined by the results of the ANC leadership elections in December.
If Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is elected as new ANC president, Jacob Zuma will probably remain president of the country until his term ends in mid-2019 – unless he relocates to Dubai or Pollsmoor before then.
If Cyril Ramaphosa, Lindiwe Sisulu or Zweli Mkhize gets the nod from the elective conference, Zuma will most likely be redeployed early in 2019, as had happened to Thabo Mbeki.
I don’t think it will really matter whether Zuma himself or Hyphenated-Zuma is president.
In both scenarios the chances are close to zero that the economy will be dragged out of the doldrums and state capture and corruption be rooted out.
NDZ, as Dlamini-Zuma is about to market her campaign on T-shirts and caps, is the fiscal populist Zuma camp’s only candidate – surely Baleka Mbete is not a serious contender?
Ramaphosa, at the moment looking like her strongest opponent, is joined by at least two other serious candidates, Lindiwe Sisulu and Zweli Mkhize, although he has not yet confirmed his desire to stand.
We will soon find out whether these two, and Mathews Phosa, are going to stand on their own or whether they will join Ramaphosa’s campaign to keep the power out of NDZ’s hands.
(Jeff Radebe has declared his candidacy, probably trying to bridge the divide, but I can’t at the moment see him as a threat to either NDZ or Ramaphosa.)
It is hard to imagine that Ramaphosa, now the deputy president of the ANC and of the country, would stay on in the ANC’s structures and accept a demotion if NDZ wins the election.
The plans to prevent a break-up of the party after December, perhaps by reconciling the two camps’ candidate lists so the losing camp also gets a few senior positions, are still on the table but few seem to have any great enthusiasm to go that way right now.
If the ANC does follow that route, it would simply perpetuate the factional battles beyond 2019 and further damage the party’s prospects in 2019.
NDZ has a solid record of struggle and sacrifice leading up to 1990, but her report card as cabinet member over eighteen years and her almost five years as chair of the AU commission is quite mediocre.
But the real issue is that she has planted herself squarely inside the Zuma camp when she returned from the AU and launched her election campaign.
If she walks like them and talks like them, she must be one of them.
Her primary supporters and backers represent the worst elements in the ANC: the Women’s and Youth Leagues, the Premier League, the MK Veterans Association (and one can add the BLF gang) and the most discredited cabinet ministers like Bathabile Dlamini, Faith Muthambi, Des van Rooyen and Mosebenzi Zwane.
To be frank, NDZ is in the heart of the corrupt Zuma-Gupta nest and beholden to them, and is being promoted actively by the Gupta propaganda machinery.
I hope investigative journalists are going to do some digging in the months ahead to find out who pays for what in NDZ’s election campaign. Rumour has it that it is going to cost many millions.
The only real chance South Africa has to get back on the road to progress, accountability and the rule of law is if the heart of the Zuma-Gupta complex were ripped out and most key leaders in the national prosecuting authority, state security, SARS, the Hawks, the intelligence services and the state-owned enterprises are replaced.
Even if she wanted to, NDZ simply won’t be able to do this. She won’t be allowed to.
The reality is that if she wanted to correct the wayward path we’re on now, she’ll have to get rid of those who got her into power.
On top of that, she has already alienated most of the constitutionalists in the ANC.
Zuma has chosen her to be his successor because he believes she would keep him and his wealthy benefactors out of jail.
This is a burden she cannot get rid of.
Even if Ramaphosa, Sisulu or Mkhize becomes our new president, they would have a hard time to clean up the mess because the vested interests are strong and Zuma strongholds like that in KwaZulu-Natal would be tempted to sabotage such efforts.
But such a comprehensive cleansing operation is a precondition for a return to a healthy, capable state and a growing economy.
(Photo credit: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Michael Hammond)