By Pinky Khoabane
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa sharing a light moment
THE ANC presidential race is on! At the beginning of the year some of us said it would be bloody as the battle for the soul of South Africa’s economy takes centre stage. And boy is this contestation delivering – way more than we could have ever expected.
The year started off with the continuation of last year’s series of regime-change protest marches staged by several NGOs supported by some of the comrades of former President Thabo Mbeki’s era, who have benefited immensely from their collaboration with White Monopoly Capital (WMC) through Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deals – so much so that they now seek to remove from ANC and other liberation struggle literature the words WMC. http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/thabo-mbeki-outstanding-intellectual-almost-left-legacy/
We’ve also had the #GuptaLeaks with explosive information allegedly showing the extent of the Gupta influence on the President Jacob Zuma’s presidency. These of course lent credence to allegations of corruption by Zuma and the Guptas and assisted immensely, to the calls for Zuma to vacate his job.
Unlike the DC Leaks and Wiki Leaks which were dumped onto websites of the respective institutions (hackers) for everyone to access, the #GuptaLeaks have been carefully managed. Access to the documents has been opened only to a select group of media outlets and individuals within those institutions to ensure the narrative of state capture remains within specific individuals who had already been identified through the media as Zuma/Gupta people. It is no coincidence that emails between the Guptas and the DA and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, despite having accepted donations running into hundreds of thousands from the Guptas and visiting them at the infamous Saxonwold home, have not been published. While emails by the Bell Pottinger team are said to include Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama, nothing has been forthcoming on communication between Justice Malala’s agent’s interaction with the PR firm. Nothing has been published of Stephen Grootes’s interview of one of the Gupta brothers, Ajay, which he conducted under the PR agency’s terms and conditions – something extremely abominable for a “journalist” to do. Grootes only released details of this interview nine months or so after it was done and only because the Guptas released it on social media site YouTube. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2016-11-21-op-ed-ajay-gupta-and-the-interview-that-supposedly-never-happened/#.WZVbUOlLFSU
In between that we’ve had a series of events from both sides of the aisle in the battle to ensure the realisation of economic justice for the Black majority on one hand or the continuation of the slow pace of transformation of the economy – a situation which has seen whites remain at the helm of the economy and being the biggest beneficiaries of BEE.
The President’s address at this year’s ANC’s January 8 anniversary set the stage for the demand for radical economic transformation and expropriation of land without compensation. He repeated these critical issues on several platforms including the State of the Nations Address (SONA) and thereby setting alight renewed hope for the majority of people in this country.
But the other side would not roll over and allow their ill-gotten wealth to be shared among their fellow citizens and indigenous land owners. There’s been economic warfare on an unprecedented level. Assisted by an accompanying media war, the Rand has of late become human – with eyes and ears – and responding either negatively or positively, depending on who was talking or what they were doing.
It didn’t help that Zuma fired former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas. South Africa was sent to junk status, several court cases against both the state and the President have been ongoing and calls by the opposition parties for a motion of no confidence in the President, which culminated in a secret vote recently, were part of the backlash. The ANC defeated the opposition in the motion but 26 members of the ANC joined the opposition in the attempt to remove the President – a major blow to the ANC.
The two names touted for ANC presidency had for a while been those of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Her candidacy gave people hope that South Africa had for the first time, a chance to elect a woman president. Her candidacy was endorsed by the ANC Women’s League which suggested the women were united behind a woman candidate at last. This was not to be as Minister Lindiwe Sisulu suddenly announced her candidacy almost a month ago. Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete is said to also be vying for the top job of the ANC.
Lindiwe Sisulu at the launch of her presidential campaign in Kliptown
Ramaphosa who declared his “readiness to lead if called to do so” almost a year ago has been quietly campaigning and by virtue of being in government and in the ANC’s Top 6, he’s had ample platforms from which to table his views and bash Zuma and Gupta association, albeit indirectly. “We know how some have paid for their weddings,” he was quoted as saying on one of his campaign trails – with reference to allegations that the Guptas looted money out of a farming project in the Free State and used it to pay for their lavish wedding.
Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign has been lethargic to say the least but she suddenly sprung into action in the past week following a sudden and rousing song – “We are Ready for Nkosazana – On your Marks, Get Set, We are Ready for Nkosazana” – from the Galeshewe women in Kimberly who were attending Women’s Day celebrations on 9 August. She has since been attending various events: Progressive Professional Forum (PPF) on Thursday; Youth Dialogue in Alexander on Saturday; Umembezo with the ANCWL on Sunday; together with People Opposed to Women Abuse (POWA) launched a gender-based violence app and today she’s launched a book which documents the progress recorded during her tenure at the African Union. She’s also been on various radio stations and posting messages on her Twitter Account.
The Deputy President hasn’t been sitting on his laurels either. His activities are publicised from Luthuli House, with media alerts from the communications team constantly updating and inviting the media to attend his appearances. On the same day Dlamini-Zuma attended umembezo, he was delivering the Oliver Tambo Memorial Lecture in Tembisa, not too far from where she was. Talk about disunity when the ANC could have ensured they spread the events on different dates or they each made an appearance at the other’s event – to at least show sincerity in the much talked about quest for unity in the ANC.
Political Smear Campaigns
The tactic to undermine opponents in politics using smear campaigns has been around since time immemorial and the ANC presidential campaign was never going to be immune.
In an interview with the Sunday Times published this past Sunday, the ANCWL President Bathabile Dlamini reportedly said there were men in the ANC who had committed worse abuse on their wives than what the disgraced Deputy President Mduduzi Manana had done. The ANCWL has since refuted these claims but it was enough to prompt EFF leader Julius Malema to take to the airwaves and tell listeners that the man Dlamini was referring to is Ramaphosa who he said used to abuse his former wife.
The Ramaphosa campaign management was swift, issuing denials and asking the media to ignore the false rumours. Ironically, the media did despite having taken Malema’s word on other non-substantiated issues. The following morning, the Deputy President’s ex-wife, Hope Ramaphosa, took to the airwaves in a rebuttal saying he had never laid a hand on her. It wasn’t enough to appease the opponents as some took to Twitter questioning her decision to speak on behalf of his ex-wives when he had another ex-wife, Nomazizi Mtshotshisa, who died several years ago.
That it was the Marikana anniversary in the same week as the abuse allegations surfaced, couldn’t have helped the DPs campaign. But he’s out in Tshwane today addressing the Cadres Forum under the theme: “Radical Economic Transformation for the Empowerment of Women”.
Dlamini-Zuma hasn’t had it easy either. Her association with Zuma is seen as an extension to the Guptas and is being used, without any evidence being provided, to tarnish her name. In that heap of hacked Gupta emails, White Monopoly Capital owned and controlled media will be doing everything to find any and every little correspondence to justify why she should not be the next president of the ANC.
It’s going to be interesting and brutal times ahead – for the candidates and the ANC and one cannot but think how the much talked about unity in the organisation will be achieved when the Party is at its most divided.