The African National Congress (ANC) turned 105 years old this year and used the occasion of the January 8 Statement to honour one of its giants, Oliver Reginald Tambo. Teacher, lawyer, diplomat, revolutionary, Tambo would have been 100 years old had he been alive today.
Delivering his last January 8th Statement at Orlando Stadium as President of the ANC, Jacob Zuma said the leadership had heard, heeded the calls of ANC faithful and had put in place corrective measures.
He called for unity “against our common enemies”. He identified unemployment, poverty and inequality as the enemy of the people. This has been the scourge against the Africans since 1652.
His call was not heeded however as the ANC continued to eat itself up. Factionalism reached fever pitch with the hatred between the two major factions of ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and Member of Parliament Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma playing itself out in the public space. It simply was too painful to watch.
As the national conference got closer, the contestation became brutally fierce. Smear campaigns in the media by both sides were intensified. At branch level, comrades did everything in their power to ensure delegates who would attend Conference would deliver their candidate. As I’ve reported here, they were willing to break every rule of the ANC and even take lives to ensure their preferred candidate would win.
Given the bullying tactics of some factions – tactics which bordered on unlawful activity it must be said – the opposition (yes, there is in the ANC, the ruling party of the ANC and the opposition to the ruling ANC) did the unthinkable and took matters to courts. All around the country it rained ANCvANC in the courts.
In the week leading upto Conference, the courts were still busy attending to ANC issues. The legitimacy of Provincial Executive Committees (PECs) and Branch General Meetings (BGMs) were being assessed by the courts and most if not all which were contested were found to have violated the ANC Constitution. Provincial leaders whose status had been deemed null and void by the courts swiftly retreated to their branches to get delegate status. Someone like former Free State Premier and now ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule for example, was not even the branch’s first choice for delegate. He was the alternate but ended up at the Conference and became SG in a controversial win. Sixty-three (63) or sixty-eight (68) votes were not counted; the reasons are still vague.
Ultimately however, Ramaphosa appealed to his group not to take the matter to court. His supporters are still furious though and the debate of who won between Senzo Mchunu and Magashule is still raging on WhatsApp groups. Mchunu was on Ramaphosa’s slate for SG and was beaten by about 23 votes although he had more branch nominations.
The Conference delivered an almost 50:50 vote for both factions. Top 6 had three Ramaphosa people and three Dlamini-Zuma people. The National Executive Committee (NEC) depending on who you speak to, beat the other by a few votes.
In essence then, a unity slate has emerged from Conference and a break-away group has been avoided.
A Zuma recall which the Ramaphosa supporters were calling for as early as January is highly unlikely. He has his lieutenants in the NEC and they will fight tooth and nail to ensure he completes his tenure. The question is whether Ramaphosa’s negotiating skills will persuade an early exit for Zuma or whether the courts will intervene. Ramaphosa’s negotiating skills at CODESA have been hailed but there are those like me, who think the ANC was completely beaten by the apartheid regime in those negotiations.
Three key resolutions taken at this conference are fee free education for the poor, nationalisation of the Reserve Bank, establishment of state bank and land expropriation without compensation. Of course there are conditions to the implementation of these – land expropriation without compensation for example, must not hinder economic growth, food security, etc. In short, like most policies it might not happen. But these were Dlamini-Zuma campaign issues.
So the ANC has a billionaire president whose friends have the economic power to implement what the Black majority deserve. Will they do it or was that trip to Orlando East just one of those cleansing of the soul PR exercises the rich undertake each year before leaving for their exotic holiday destinations?
Apart from the mobile companies which must have raked in millions of rand through WhatsApp usage as this was the major tool of mobilisation and communication during this campaign, the ANC won. There is definitely no unity but there isn’t a splinter group either – something the ANC could ill afford going into the 2019 elections.