Hlaudi For President?

By Akuba Mokoena

IN a few hours’ time, former COO of South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) will host a gathering at which he will be making a “historical announcement’ according to his invitation to the event. Many of his close allies have suggested that the announcement will be about him throwing his name into the hat for the presidential race next year.

Will he be like the Congress of the People (COPE) where supporters of former President Thabo Mbeki, unhappy with the decision by the ANC to cut short his time in the presidency, decided to start their own party? That party never went far before it was riddled with leadership battles and finally one group left Terror Lekota to take the helm. To be honest it was a disaster from start. The comrade for whom they left the ANC never publicly endorsed them, leaving them severely bruised. Many of the business people who had been beneficiaries of massive tenders and BEE deals as a result of their proximity to Mbeki, couldnt openly come out and endorse the party either. The risk of losing the tenders was too high.

It’s no secret that despite the very unconvincing calls and claims of unity among the party, supporters of former President Jacob Zuma have never been happy with his recall. Even though President Cyril Ramaphosa won by the slimmest of margins at the ANC’s National Elective Conference last year and the ANC adopted policies which were on Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s election ticket, the knives have been out for him.

Some in the ANC will tell you that plots to oust Ramaphosa date back to the elective conference in Mangaung. Others say before conference last year, some were already plotting for his downfall. And so the President’s support in the party hangs by a string. In the Top 6 of the leadership, he certainly cannot rely on one of the most powerful – Secretary General Ace Magashule, nor can he rely on Deputy Secretary General Jesse Duarte.

By January this year, Magashule, a staunch Zuma supporter, was said to have told an ANC group in KZN that they must “take back” the party. Recently, there was talk of a plot against Ramaphosa. All of these were of course denied as the ANC puts up a front of a party trying to unite. To be honest, it is either that or complete implosion – because in truth, the ANC is unravelling.

Zuma himself has not been sitting idly. He’s had huge groups of support at his court appearances where he’s facing charges of fraud. His supporters included members of several lobby groups and political movements, and ANC members who defied the party’s instruction not to support him in ANC regalia.

With many of his supporters questioning the party leadership in defiance and song, “Wenzeni uZuma”, Ramaphosa and the ANC leadership seemed helpless in reigning-in Zuma and his supporters.

Motsoeneng was among Zuma’s supporters at the latter’s first court hearing. Hlaudi’s invitation says those who should attend are “South Africans who demand real transformation” – radical economic transformation (RET), we can only imagine.

But there are many newly formed political movements running on the RET ticket and they are all friends of the former president. The big question therefore is whether the strategy is to have several smaller parties which will each shed the ANC votes. What are we to make of Zuma’s campaigning of the ANC then? We only have a few hours to go before we can hear what Hlaudi holds for the nation and what will unfold in the lead-up to the elections.

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