Part 2:  Zuma the “uneducated“ joins  the people’s campaign, becomes default face of RET and Land Redress!


By   Clyde Ramalaine and Carl Niehaus  

 Will the ANC 2019 January 8th Statement and election manifesto bring clarity, or simply confirm this dialectical tension?

The advent of the Jacob G. Zuma ANC leadership at Polokwane marked the unsuspecting break with the conventional ANC identity of formally “educated”  leadership. It also in a sense became the second time the ANC was forced to lead and identify more unequivocally with a pro-Poor agenda. We say this not here in a narrow sense of representing the poor, we say it at the essential level sense because the poor would increasingly begin to dictate the agenda of the ANC, with the threat of disturbing the equilibrium of elitist DNA.

We have since Polokwane heard countless ANC leaders, in public and private spaces, lament their claims of a different ANC. Some poignantly said they want ‘their’ ANC back in what can be understood as. the more elitist, and less pro-poor driven ANC, that was temporarily lost.  Those who desired its ‘return’ articulated their discomfort of not being able to fit in or be led by a pro-poor agenda.  (A very difficult, if not impossible thing to do, if you have managed, with the privileged preferential treatment bestowed on a few selected elite black business people – under the watchful eye of the White Monopoly Capital captains of industry – to become multi-millionaires and billionaires. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that it is indeed a contradiction in terminus to purport to be a leader of the poor masses from that position of created privileged advantage!). They chose to frame it in claims of their discomfort with corruption which they labelled a Zuma leadership with.  What they as gross beneficiaries of a negotiated settlement at personal level really found uncomfortable was the ANC increasingly evidencing a pro-poor stance which if left unattended poses challenges for the perpetual existence of the elites.

This era would see the emergence of the Jacob Zuma leadership, who by-default represented a break from the elitism up to then entrenched in the ANC, where formal education understood in claims of intellectualism stood central as a pre-requisite, and often the dominant deciding factor, for a claim to elected leadership.

Zuma, while unconventional for his humble origins and sparse formal education, is an ANC member for close on three score and close confidante of OR Tambo; thus, he did not mark a total break with the elitist character of the ANC. In his first term, he was less aggressive to advocate for radical policy shifts that would benefit the poor. In fact, Zuma did very little to augment what his predecessor stood for in engaging the predominantly apartheid and colonial beneficiaries. It is only in his second term that he adopted a much more public, and no holds bar approach, to what is called a pro-black-poor (and especially pro-African poor) rhetoric.

We may all argue if his second term awakening to lead the ANC as non-elitist was premised on sincere conviction, or a basic political move no different to what Robert Mugabe, also an elitist, across the Limpopo River, did for the better part of his almost forty-year reign of Zanu-PF, and Zimbabwe. We will remember Mugabe only became radical on land reform the last ten years of his term in office, and the jury remains out as to the authenticity of his choices, whether it was out of conviction or for the sake of personal political survival.

Perhaps Zuma’s calculated reading of the mood of the masses, who increasingly felt betrayed by the negotiated settlement between the binaries of white and black elites, that resulted in deformed freedom immanent in political but not economic freedom, thrust him as the face of the people’s campaign for economic freedom. He, with his antithetical identity as not your typical elitist ANC president, already frowned upon by those who believe in  ‘education’ as the evidence of intellect led ANC, would now openly begin to campaign on white and black binaries of economic imbalance, and call out the White Monopoly Capitalists (WMC), for their continued control of the South African economy, and continuing exploitation of the black poor, and economically disempowered, masses.

This while the ANC elites were handsomely rewarded from the start to share in the unjust economy, and became the buffer-zone for white privilege. As a consequence, it turned out to be that when the masses challenged the white apartheid-engineered and maintained shaped ongoing control of the economy, they ended up being confronted and opposed by a political leadership it elected who increasingly acted as the insurance policy in protection of white privilege. This consciousness of this elitist and privileged leadership was shaped by their new found material and moneyed comfort, rather than any liberation driven revolutionary consciousness. Proof that Karl Marx was correct when he stated that one’s class consciousness is ultimately determined by the property you own, and your material well-being, or lack thereof.

By the way, this was not an accidental situation, but a meticulously orchestrated and well-executed plan of the apartheid regime negotiators.  We warrant extending them credit for having outfoxed their counterparts at the unequal table of a negotiated settlement.

Zuma for his adopted stance on WMC, therefore, could not go to the same white elites whom Mandela, Mbeki and all others were comfortable with, to support his agenda for economic freedom. He thus became the enemy of white privilege to the extent that they actually marched against him, less for what they confused the masses in claims of corruption or an emptiness of morality, but more so because he was leading the ANC into another direction that militated against the negotiated beneficial settlement of, and for, the elites which threatened  a revolution in which the biggest casualties would be the very elites on both sides of the proverbial railway line.

Both white as well as black elitist groups feared the personal impact it would have on their economic well-being and opted to resist to such an extent that high-heeled pseudo-NGO’s, like SAVE–SA, emerged as created and heavily sponsored specifically for the purpose to get rid of Zuma.  The struggling to be relevant South African Council of Churches (SACC) was enlisted to re-echo this message until Anglican Bishop Makgoba could abuse the most significant day of Christian Faith celebration to prognosticate his personal political preferences of Zuma removal in an instruction to the Ramaphosa leadership. This SAVE-SA agenda would also be joined by various ‘foundations’, that represent white privilege interest as fulcrum realities. Not missing out on this was the SACP and COSATU.

Jacob Zuma thus in a sense accidentally became the face of RET and the by-default face of RET the same some till this moment regard him. It also appears Zuma in his post-presidential life continues to seek to define this as his real legacy and reading the trajectory of the current ANC leadership knows that there is a still a vacuum. From the bedrock of that awareness he has decided to stay in touch and active in the daily politics and discourse with his more recent entrance of the Twitter social media platforms.

For the record, our support of Jacob Zuma was predicated on the axis of four cornerstones. Firstly we were and remain convinced he was disrespected by the elitist essentially for his lack of formal education, the same who until Zuma‘s emergence had never treated any ANC president with such disdain for his lack of education. Secondly, it remains our conviction that Zuma was served a grave injustice with an NPA bungling and political meddling in apparent charges against him. Thirdly his calculated reading of the masses in demand of a RET and land redress and a willingness to associate with it. Lastly throughout our commitment to a liberation struggle which we also in democracy voted for we have always believed the ANC as the vehicle for true change, not an uncommon hope if the measurement of disillusionment of many with the ANC is used as a barometer.

We inadvertently were labelled Zuma people, in defence of corruption looting and therefore needed to be avoided at all costs. Where necessary our economic livelihood needs to be crippled to teach us lessons for associating with Zuma. To prove that we supported Zuma without any intent of personal benefit, we can categorically state that we never benefitted from even him something we both told him in jest when we had independent meetings with him.  Some in  ignorance consider us fools because we did not benefit from Zuma, yet they fail to appreciate we were never surrendered to Zuma the person but identified with his association of the pro-poor people’s agenda for RET and Land redress, in that sense he is the ANC president that ventured the closest to a pro-poor agenda hence his popularity with the masses to this day. In a sense, he was SA‘s first domestic president and will continue to be remembered as the father of RET,  Land redress and free tertiary education.  A year after his forced resignation he remains popular because the masses do not appear to trust his successor to drive the same agenda.

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine  He is a writer and political commentator whose work has appeared in most major SA newspapers. including The Thinker Pan African Journal among others. He is the Founder-Chairperson of TMoSA Foundation – The Thinking Masses of SA. Ramalaine in 2017 consciously supported the NDZ campaign with his incisive public commentaries and writings

Carl Niehaus was actively involved in the NDZ17 Campaign. Niehaus is an ANC veteran with40 years of uninterrupted ANC membership, and a former member of the NEC of the ANC, ANC MP, He also served as the SA Ambassador to The Netherlands. He is currently a member of the NEC of MKMVA, and the National Spokesperson of MKMVA. Carl contributed to this article in his personal capacity.






Will the ANC 2019 January 8th Statement and election manifesto bring clarity, or simply confirm this dialectical tension?

 By Clyde Ramalaine and Carl Niehaus

On the eve of the ANC’s annual January Statement in a year of the national ballot, to be delivered on January 12th, it becomes imperative to look at and clear up some shibboleths, anomalies and misconceptions that keep our public discourse hostage. To this extent we have decided to write a series of articles to assist discussions on what is emerging as an ANC leadership of a people’s campaign for radical economic transformation and land redress that presents waves of discomfort within the identity of the ANC as historically an elitist organization if its ontology is considered the yardstick.

The parts that make up the musing are respectively: Part 1: The ANC attests a history of elitismPart 2Jacob Zuma the ‘uneducated’ identifies with the people’s campaign and becomes the by-default face of RETPart 3: Why we supported an elitist Nkosazana Dlamini-Zumas campaignPart 4:Urban Foundation groomed Ramaphosa the test of a People’s Campaign mandate versus an ANC elitist agenda

Part 1The ANC attests a history of elitism

It is exactly a year since the 54th National Conference where the leadership that emerged was mandated to carry out a set of pro-Radical Economic Transformation (RET) Resolutions. that for many outside the ANC, and even some in the ANC, was never palatable for the far-reaching and fundamental revolutionary change that it envisaged. In order to appreciate this notion of discomfort from within the ANC on its own adopted Resolutions, we warrant first to appreciate who the ANC is from inception. A cursory look at its history will prove that the ANC from the start was an organisation led by elites. It was not a mass mobilisation movement, led by the groundswell support of the poor, landless and the uneducated. It was not a worker’s formation either.

Few historians will dispute that the ANC in its genesis evidences a leadership that unequivocally assimilated as African elites, who no longer wanted to be sidelined and subjugated by white colonial masters, but who were not averse to making deals with the colonial powers in order to achieve their objectives. Thus, some of the most important activities of the early leadership of the ANC was to dispatch delegations to petition the British monarch and parliament for fairer treatment and recognition.

Its later association, with the Worker’s Cause at several historical intersections, left it dishevelled, out of kilt and struggling to maintain its elitist identity. This was evident in the elitist ANC leadership’s initial discomfort with communism. It can be argued that the eventual rapprochement between the traditional elitist, and initially pro-capitalist ANC leadership, was based on the fact that the Soviet Union and other East-Bloc communist countries were more prepared to recognize the ANC leadership and treat them on an equal footing than the elitist and racist insults, and disdainful disregard, that they had to endure from the British, and other European colonial powers.

The material support that the communists were also prepared to provide the ANC, which was cash-strapped and had hardly any resources, also played a huge role in forging a closer relationship.

Arguably this material support channelled through the South African Communist Party was initially the main foundation for the growing relationship, rather than ideological affinity. Initially the elitist, and traditional leadership of the ANC felt a far closer cultural and ideological affinity with the Western European colonial powers, which in no small measure also influenced western orientated colonial missionary education. But the arrogant disdain with which they were none-the-less treated the Western Europeans, and the need for material resources to keep the ANC afloat, drove them to the communists East-Bloc.

It was more a case of being driven into the arms of the communists by the arrogance and racism of the Western European colonial powers than feeling a natural affinity with the more equalitarian worldview of communism, and of a working class led society.

The modern identity of the ANC attests ambivalent because it is a movement that purports to represent the masses, but for almost all of its history it was and continues to be, led by a black traditional, intellectual and business leadership elite. That identity was upheld for the better part of its 107 years. Even in the darkest days of apartheid, also during the years of banishment and exile, the ANC represented that paradigm.

Interestingly enough this was not changed by the pro-African radicalism of the ANC Youth League when it was formed under the leadership of the Anton Lembede, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu among others. In fact, these pro-Africanist young radical leaders were initially even more anti-communist than their older counterparts in the Mother body and NEC of the ANC. They launched harsh verbal, and even physical, attacks on the communists. Nelson Mandela acknowledged that he once attacked Dr. Yusuf Dadoo of the SACP with a chair in an attempt to literally to beat him off the stage, during a communist party meeting in the Krugersdorp City Hall.


Evidently, although more radical in the acknowledgement of their Pan-African identity the young lions of the ANC Youth League were no less elitist in their overall political approach. They also saw themselves as an elitist vanguard, empowered by their mainly western missionary education, with the right to lead.


It was only when Umkhonto we Sizwe was finally formed on the 16th of December 1961, and it was only through the South African Communist Party and their links with the Soviet Union, and other East-Bloc communist countries that guns and other weapons and military training could become available, that Mandela’s attitude to the South African communists and communism in general softened.


However, it can be argued that it was more a utilitarian association of need rather than a deep ideological commitment. This was confirmed by OR Tambo who often narrated that the ANC’s association with communism and the especially the Soviet Union was necessitated by the fact that the West was not prepared to support the anti-apartheid struggle of the ANC in general, and specifically not the armed struggle. The only source of support for years came from the USSR, and other East-Bloc communist countries, later further supplemented by support from Cuba.


For the first time in its history, in the 1980’s the ANC became forced to associate itself with the internal groundswell of the masses that were mobilised not as ANC per se. This was personified by the student revolt of 1976 and beyond, and the emergence of a strong civics-based country-wide resistance movement against apartheid. Initially the ANC did not lead this period, but eventually, it agreed to lead because it was assisted by the internal activities of people that were not formal ANC members, but who often identified with thosemore progressive pro-people liberation pronouncements of the ANC, such as contained in the Freedom Charter.


Many of the leadership collective elite in the ANC was, however, never comfortable with leaders like Winnie Mandela, Harry Gwala, Allan Boesak and even Chris Hani, whom they considered populists.


Let us not forget for an elongated period populism, inside the ANC had a negative connotation, and was considered the antithesis of intellectualism and pragmatism. While in exile ANC leadership battled to fully identify with internal leaders who were very popular, and plausibly a threat in their own rights for the prevailing leadership of the ANC.


In order to appreciate the elitist character of the ANC’s leadership throughout time, we must look back and ask where were ANC leaders were trained for their primary and basic education? It is on record that an early group of ANC leadership were educated at white mission schools like Lovedale, Adams College and Institutions like Fort Hare etc. Meaning the prism of their education was that of the coloniser and the missionary–colonizer. Thus, the education of the ANC’s leadership in its prism and epistemology was essentially borrowed from that umwelt, and it can never escape that reality for its undeniable influence on the panoply of their thought and struggle convictions. We may, therefore, accept that the elitism of the ANC is a borrowed one from the colonisers who intrinsically shaped the ANC leadership since 1912, up to at least 2007.


The ANC appears suspended between the mandate to lead a people’s campaign and its fundamental identity of elitist which wrestles for its future existence.