– Can those who opine, our analysts, commentators, editors, the ‘intellectual’ Midrand Group, please give us the facts not their personal fictional denial of the reality –
It is time to finally pen my views as a fourth instalment on the Series dubbed ‘Road to Mangaung – Pretenders to the Throne of Presidential Office’. The previous instalments included my opinion on Tokyo Sexwale’s solo campaign ( covered in the New Age of August 18th under Opinion and Analysis), followed by Matthew Phosa the one-legged dark-horse and ultimately the Kgalema Motlanthe, good candidacy marred in vengeance of birth. Today I finally conclude the presidential contest by focussing on the incumbent, Jacob Zuma. What will follow later will be the subject of Secretary General as a position up for grabs.
I am accused of being a Zuma apologist yet those who make the claim selectively engage in this claim for they seldom argue the biased nature and campaign waged by editors, opinion makers, analysts and claimed analysts who have to yet prove objective on what really is happening in the ANC concerning the subject of ANC elections. Those who advance such claim of Zuma fan, equally deny their inadvertent worship of others.
All with the exception of a Karima Brown (I am sure she too stands accused of being a Zuma apologist) who similar to me have consistently expressed the view that Zuma is leading the ANC and will get his deserving second term regardless to who and what is at play or employed as strategy to topple him. Karima and I have nothing in common except for a political history of the early to mid 1980’s Cape Based student uprise, in which both of us interacted and were apart. I have not seen or heard from her in all these years (accept to read her views in the Sunday Independent) till today, yet we share a similar view on Zuma as ANC leader.
The more one reads the opinions of those who claim the canvas of our social and political discourse the more one realises how little these understand the ANC and its internal processes manifested in its ultimate elections.
In the same week that Barack Obama the sitting 44th president of the USA, perhaps had the worst week of what is termed his joyride into a second term in the White-House with his public debate defeat against a boisterous Mitt Romney, Jacob Zuma continues to baffle all and sunder for accruing more support. It appears Jacob Zuma is the proverbial Teflon equivalent of South African political canvas for nothing sticks not even the Constitutional Court ruling on Menzi Simelane or the much-publicised Nkandla Gate saga.
It is fair to conclude the cohort of so called independent editors, journalists, analysts, book-publishers and the vocal Midrand group afforded much leniency and space in media embrace of so called claimed intellectual enclave, fail to prove objective and is intoxicated by an embedded collective zest to have Zuma unseated by any and every means possible. This zest clouds their objectivity for they have wrongly assumed an admittance of fact as that which necessarily implies an agreement with his bid for a second term. All we ask of all those who opine is to give us their objective assessment not their wish list draped in analysis.
I am on record for having long advanced nothing will come of the claimed “Promise of Mangaung Revenge.”
Many in short-sighted snapshot analysis superimpose the proverbial ghost of a Polokwane repeat on a Mangaung 2012, even NEC members blinded by their desire to act as ‘kingmakers’ fall for this baseless claim. A couple of weeks ago Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula perhaps second to Arts & Culture Minister Paul Mashatile the most overrated politicians in the South African political context advanced a view that they will decide on leadership as they have decided before. The Treasurer General of the ANC, Matthew Phosa whom I have dubbed the dark-horse and will remain a dark-horse, advocated a need to have all leadership assessed, yet whilst this on the cuff appears noble we all know it was a direct reference to the president as in danger of losing his position informed by a claim of assessment.
This week Gauteng’s ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile led a delegation to attempt and broker a settlement agreement of power with the ANC’s biggest representative constituency leadership of Kwa – Zulu Natal in what I term a wrongful claim of need for a ‘government of national unity’ evident in power-sharing between a Zuma and Motlanthe as the best option for the ANC.
This completely out of order step on the part of the Gauteng Leadership warrants sanction, condemnation for its arrogance and almost indolence, it is smple work and make Gauteng the biggest ANC representative and trips to KZN will not be needed.
There is no crises in the ANC immanent in anybody having to deny the branches their constitutional democratic right to vote like they have done in time past for the ANC and ultimately SA leaders. Equally in whose interests is this horse-trading taking place, but those who aspire to be rewarded for having made others kings. The Gauteng ANC Leadership should consider disciplinary action against its chairperson and those who have deemed it their inalienable right to obfuscate the rights of branches by dictating the meridian of what should happen at Mangaung.
I have said this to ask why is it this difficult for anyone to appreciate that unlike what is communicated in our print media; President Zuma remains the preferred president uncontested if truth is told. Until now, no one has lifted his/her hand in contest, and even if Motlanthe is forced by circumstances less by his personal conviction to accept, he remains entangled in the web of a marred candidacy if those who want him stand constitute expelled Malema’s ANCYL members. On the other hand, if he is forced to drink from a poisoned chalice of discomfort slate defined lists.
Motlanthe we all know is not comfortable with the presented Gauteng led slates that forces him to be deputised by essentially Sexwale and or a fading Phosa. As much as this makes Motlanthe uncomfortable, he in himself does not have that outright endorsement to claim an outright constituency that could carry him to a potential victory against an incumbent who remains popular to take it if the ANC and not those outside of ANC prove the barometer. It will become increasingly difficult for Motlanthe to accept this nomination though he has no choice but to do so, for it is a matter of political suicide if he falls out at Mangaung. He has tough personal choices to make and has to navigate his way out of a landmine ridden field, for until Mangaung he dabbles with political suicide, though he has less to worry if a salary is the issue, for he receives his presidential salary for life, with all its perks. Suicide because if he completely falls out whilst still accomodated by those who want a Zuma second term, will send him into early retirement for the ANC may have its first women president after 2017.
I have gone this way to argue why a Zuma presidency will triumph at Mangaung and will now cite some critical reasons for such as Mantashe puts “Mangaung will be a walk in the park”.
1. Zuma has not lost the ANC centre. He has consistently remained the ANC president and not the president of a faction as much as some want to create this factionalist dimension. Zuma regardless to what campaign and resource were unleashed against him led by whomever, wherever and whenever. He has somehow found it possible to keep the centre together despite the wild claims of a fading centre.
2. Zuma understood that the ANC is more important than SA, for those who take their personal political futures serious. This means unlike Mbeki, who for a variety of reasons lost the favour and centre of the ANC but had the country sentiment, before Polokwane, Zuma kept placing the organisation at the centre of his power-charge and refused to be moved from focussing on the organisation first. This could be made out by some as self-serving yet it can also be argued that he clearly understands how SA presidents are made, that being less of public but of ANC making.
3. Zuma, organisational discipline dared to go where angels feared to tread. The issue of organisational discipline as advanced by him at the 2010 NGC, when many as usual wrote him off, as a rudderless leader lacking decisiveness has come full circle. In his political report at the 2010 NGC, the president surprised his detractors inside and outside the ANC when he warned the party will act against i’ll-discipline. It is history now Malema and his bandits are expelled and suspended and nobody who loves the ANC genuinely cannot claim that Malema spelled trouble with his uncouth and arrogant attitude. Hence, the president proved decisive on discipline and led from the front on it.
4. This president will go down in history of post-apartheid context as the first president to prove decisive on corruption. It is amazing that at some stage, many sought to define him as the maximum symbol of corruption, yet no president has ever been this decisive and acted without fear of reprisal on the subject matter. This president got rid of Siphiwe Nyanda, touted as a big-hitter in ANC context when his communications ministry were caught up in all kinds of shenanigans and claims and counter claims of tenders etc. He fired ministers like the ate Sicelo Shiceka and others, he relieved beloved General Bheki Cele from his job as Police Commissioner. He acted against even MEC’s. So whilst his detractors and those who claim an intellect argue him corrupt they prove silent on this claim of his decisiveness.
5. Zuma understood and kept the unity of the ANC as the paramount issue of his presidency. Notwithstanding the fact that his leadership in this centenary year comes at a critical and torrid period he ensembles one ANC and denounces a factionalist mind-set, fully understanding his mandate is to unite the party even if the proverbial clouds are thick with uncertainties, it takes a special kind of leader to appreciate what his task is when there are so many things that could hoodwink you of your course.
6. Under a Zuma led leadership the ANC swelled its ranks to and encroaching almost 1.3million membership. There will be those who will seek to confuse us in putting a tribal Zulu spin on this, therefore denigrating the reality of this growth. Yet they must tell us where it is stated the party must grow equally in all provincial and all tribal definitions. It therefore is a farcical argument to invoke the issue of tribalism only because the KZN province has shown unparalleled growth. Can we deal with the truth of this growth and quit proving vengeful to find an opaque justification for an illogical and cheap argument?
7. Under Zuma the subject of HIV/AIDS, a hushed theme in days gone by, is dealt with in honesty, and became an almost peripheral issue. In that sense, he fixed the mess of his predecessor on the subject in the interest of the ANC. It no longer is used as a political football to attack the ANC. I am not sure, when last I saw Zackie Achmat on TV, his deputy has now found a new focus in Limpopo Books scandal, because the issue of HIV &AIDS is a serious issue for this president. His definitive and decisive leadership increased the chances of many more to earlier benefit from the anti-retroviral rollouts. He led from the front in subjecting himself to multiple testing.
He showed clear leadership in recognising the need to improve the strategy for a renewed campaign immanent in a rising of the cd 4 acceptance.
8. The Zuma presidency initially accused of lacking any direction on foreign relations, has made a unique contribution to the panaplea if our evolving international relations domain is the yardstick. Firstly fumbling on the infamous UN Resolution 1973 on Libya, he proved matured to admit his error and quickly moved to amend this condemned action by embracing an African Union defence as his mantra.
- His work particularly on the BRICS front proves leadership, and he will go be remembered as the first president to commit resources in access of R2bn, to the collective plan of the BRICS. This was never done before. Some are arguing SA is boxig outside of its weight definition, yet what cannot be disputed is that SA under Zuma is taken serious.
- If South Africa is active in peace initiatives in Africa, Madagascar, Myanmar it is to this president’s credit that such is still happening and he participates through DIRCO actively in these processes. He has exually comprised a team of competent people to assist the process. He therefore builds on the legacy of his predecessor and equally affords the predecesssor space to execute the mandate of and African Renaissance.
- He is accredited for having delivered the Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma chairpersonship at AU level, through his careful manoeuvring and campaigning targeted at critical constituencies. Whilst the skills and reputation of the AU Chairperson speaks for itself, we cannot deny the role and critical leadership of Zuma on this front, those who seek to afford him no credit failed to understand the campaign in its totality. While his predecessor rightly warns us all today not to set Dlamini-Zuma up for failure, she is serving as chairperson and that matters.
- His equal role in UN representation has earned him the respect he deserves as a powerhouse in this epoch.
- He equally took the former Colonialists and erstwhile superpowers to task on their selfish and selfserving own interest based approach to global politics.
- Zuma is seen as a bridgebuilder who seeks consensus of the African World, and is in his own right a unique soul making his own contribution.
- It is my conviction that under Zuma we will in his second term see a transition from Political International Relations Diplomacy to a more Economic based diplomacy for the question is do we get value for the resources we have thus spend.
9. Zuma has moved in the right direction concerning the relevance of the Khoisan- People’s claim of rights and legitimate acknowledgment of RSA land claim as dictated to by the UN resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which still need to be taken serious in parliamentary discourse and open debate by the ANC.
While President Mandela was aware and President Mbeki in foreverness artistically eulogised this subject in his much-celebrated speech I AM AN AFRICAN, no ANC president has yet officially pronounced and set the tone for a much-needed discourse particularly in open Parliament setting on the subject. Yet Zuma has made the right noises albeit from his Traditional understanding and therefore has paved the way for a hope to have this issue as lobbied by some of us tabled in Parliament once and for all in his second term. This subject equally is a dynamic one for the race group defined wrongly as Coloured in SA today.
10. The Zuma presidency, understood that the religious canvas of South Africa is an evolving and dynamic one. One in which the SACC of yesteryear cannot today claim its relevance as representative of the Christian religious platform. Hence, he decisively opted early on for the ever-increasing Pentecostal Church expression as the church and faith based groups that would define his political life as President of the ANC and RSA. He had foresight and understood the signs of the times and proved brave to move away from the romantic association of a SACC Religious definition.
12. President Zuma has given birth to the National Planning Commission under the leadership of its Minister Trevor Manual it is primarily aimed at casting a long-term vision for South Africa’s future informed by proper research planning mechanism and systems.
13. President Zuma managed to keep our opinion makers guessing and in proverbial sixes and sevens on the appointment of a Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng who wrongly was castigated by a constituency who believe it their inalienable right to dictate to the president who is best for this country as Chief Justice. He showed his own mind, Chief Justice Mogoeng, who was emotionally and wrongly feared a stooge by some ( like Pierre De Vos) as one who will pander to the whims of an ANC president for wrong reasons is occupying the seat with dignity. His rulings major or minor have proven consistent with a jurisprudence informed by an independent mind and in the interest of law as directed by our constitution. Again, those who murmured, complained, proved insulting, and denigrated this choice of a Chief Justice has yet to admit the error of their ways. Knowing them they will never, for their mission remains fuelled by the need to dictate to this president for he does not have the education that presidents ought to have at least in the minds of those who claim to know.
I read with much interest how one commentator reminds us that thus far the sitting Chief Justice’s decisions and rulings were independent if the record attests.
14. Zuma as president appointed the ‘visible’ and ever-pervasive Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela. Madonsela in her own right has in my assessment given this Chapter 9 institution a political face and presence perhaps so wrongly. Yet she has equally done sterling work in many cases, and is embraced by the constituency who are not necessarily ANC President fans. The foresight to appoint someone like Madonsela who in my assessment has her own ambitions, still must go down as a major plus for a Zuma leadership. Whilst Zuma and the ANC at times personally may regret her appointment when it appears she is media hogging, and bias in favour of the DA opposition Party, what cannot be denied is her visibility and high ratings among those who would love to dislike the ANC and Zuma?
15. Zuma, did not allow sentiment or his emotions to overtake or cloud his actions on dealing with a Sexwale, Mbalula and Mashatile who serve at his pleasure in his cabinet, he could have offloaded them because they are on record for questioning his leadership capacity yet serve in his cabinet. He understood that in political leadership 101 you cannot create victims for if you do, you would have failed to understand that South Africa’s political canvas is susceptible for the victim-villain status in which victims can become heroes overnight. So he proved astute to allow these to vent their misguided and perhaps self-serving views without showing any overt reaction to their campaign of unseating him.
16. He has managed to maintain a great relationship with his Secretary General, any sitting president who has any aspirations knows the importance of having good relations with his secretary general, who is the de-factor CEO of the organisation and proves instrumental in the future of presidents if the concomitant issues of branch vetting, communications, internal synapses is understood. The top 6 appears divided in the middle with Zuma, Mantashe, and Mbete as in agreement and Motlanthe, Phosa and Modise as seemingly in agreement on some issues. Yet the unity of the collective is lodged in the secretary general who in time past openly rebuked the treasurer general for his divisive actions.
17. Zuma has heard the cry for economic redress and under his leadership, the last Policy Conference in preparation for Mangaung adopted this, though an ANCYL advanced campaign as the ANC campaign. The sentiment second phase or second transition is a peripheral issue, what is critical is that when the delegates gather at Mangaung it will be to engage this proposed policy item which will lead the ANC into the next century. It takes leadership to recognise others could be right and you wrong.
18. Zuma has managed to firstly divide the power of those who claim to lead organised labour and then he managed to secure the organised labour entities like COSATU with its vocal anti- Zuma sentiment led campaign of its Secretary Vavi, to change his tune. COSATU was told, stay out of ANC elections campaign pronouncements for the ANC respects its Tri-Partite partners as independent constituencies not to be conflated into one. As things stand now organised labour need consistency to prevail in ANC leadership especially because it is key union federations as if NUM is suffering haemorrhage with the Marikana and subsequent strikes in specific sectors. In fact, perhaps it is time for COSATU to focus on worker issues for it strayed in to the political freeway when it needed to be in the yellow line mobilising workers and lobbying the political freeway to accommodate labour constituency. At least Vavi is silent and the campaign of unseating Zuma as a COSATU led initiative has died a natural death, perhaps rightly so. COSATU has to contend with what I called ‘The Business of Unionism in a post – apartheid context, a blatant hypocrisy’ (penned in 2010).
19. Zuma has remained the preferred candidate for the SACP; whose leadership rallies at all times around the President in defence of him when the Malema’s of this world became personal in their attacks. The SACP Leadership at all fronts defended this ANC president even when some of his own Top- 6 colleagues proved silent and bias against him.
20. Zuma has managed to divide the ANCYL on the subject matter of his second term. While the acting leader Ronald Lamola has pronounced recently their 2 year – long campaign of replacing Zuma with Motlanthe. It is not a done deal that all 45 votes of the ANCYL will be against Zuma at Mangaung. Primary reason for that is that the ANCYL is a much weaker and wounded league and we already are seeing letters of complaint in which the claim of an official position is challenged by members of the ANCYL accusing the current leadership of moving unilaterally on this subject and loyal to Malema who is expelled. It is very possible that Zuma will garner more support in the up-run to Mangaung and ultimately even get this very constituency to vote for him.
21. Zuma has the support of the consistent, Women’s League. The Women’s League remains the most consistent and balanced league of the ANC, balanced for it always manages to be clear and unambiguous in its support for a candidate. We are told they are for consistency and would want the existing leadership to remain as is in Top- 6 shape.
22. Zuma remains supported by the Veterans league notwithstanding its vocal member Sejake, who castigated a Zuma leadership and called for a change of leadership, remains in support of Zuma.
23. The Zuma presidency adopted an open door policy in which members and the public are encouraged to engage. This engagement though for some interpreted as that which is born of incapacity yet the ANC culture if robust and Frank engagement
24. Zuma has delivered on the Polokwane resolutions mandate, and since the ANC as a collective decides it is difficult to judge him an individual on such, however without citing these resolutions here for that can be done, the ANC under Zuma has kept to the resolutions and equally have kept focus of its Manifesto 5 key items.
25. This president is leading the ANC in organisational renewal context, without fear or reprise and has made organisational discipline his campaign theme.
Hence, the President goes into Mangaung reasonably secured of his quest for a second term with very little chance of defeat. The progenitors of leadership change in a wrongful ABZ, campaign that has lost steam, never really had support and came funded failed to understand the ANC and equally failed to understand the place Zuma holds in the ANC as its sitting president. You can run campaigns on sentiment but at some point in time, you must sober up and admit that which is less palatable. The Zuma second term train has support and less by those who are wrongly accused of being apologists but by facts herewith contained, we cannot argue such. Those who accuse me of being an apologist do not comment when we critique this president as my open letter on Nkandla recently did.
When I opine here that he will get a second term with least challenge, it is by no means a blank cheque of him not having made a ton of mistakes. It is by no means and advocacy that he is squeaky clean and a saint, it equally is not to admit he took wrong advice and has many personal challenges, yet in the greater scheme of things his good in facts outweighs the embellished claims advanced by those who are blinded by their lust for his power and opportunity.
He remains contrary to the views of others very popular as a president with charisma, simplicity and one who is more than seasoned in ANC organisational setting. Perhaps it is this aspect that his detractors and even our learned analysts cannot grasp yet equally cannot deny.
I think he easily holds a double PHD in Political Leadership and his epistemology on the ANC its history, present and future remains admirable.
I will not be surprised if he delivers at his conclusion of his term as ANC President in 2017, the ANC’s first Women President for he has the aptitude to make that kind of history. A maverick indeed, often not given enough credit, his only sin not having a degree in University sense for if he had that he would have been given the green lights by those who claim an intellectual description, hence my hope to complete the book ‘Jacob Zuma, Political Leadership 101 – I did it my way’ earmarked for May 2013.
Clyde N. S. Ramalaine
Courtesy of ‘Road to Mangaung : Pretenders to the Throne’
Due : December 8th, 2012