Plot behind the #ZumaMustFall campaign

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THE choreography has been perfected. The lynch mob comprising the usual suspects — the mainstream media, captains of industry, leaders of banking institutions, false prophets masquerading as members of the cloth, hate-filled and revenge-seeking ANC veterans, opposition parties, civil society groupings preoccupied with sustenance of economic inequalities, racial bigots, talk show hosts – stand ready for the final crucifixion of Jacob Zuma.
These have been corralled under one roof to give an impression that theirs is a representative voice. But, in truth, it represents a small group of elites whose sole existence is to protect their material interests.

The biggest anti-Zuma march organised could draw no more than 10000 compared with the 60000 to 80000-strong members of the EFF and the ANC Youth League separately.

Perched at the top of this lynch mob are some members of the judiciary. These have been carefully selected to give a judicial stamp to the ZumaMustFall campaign. So as to be counted in the history-making endeavour, some unions have also jumped on the bandwagon.

They have encouraged workers to suspend all workers’ struggles and club together with bosses who exploit them on a daily basis. President Zuma has become a bigger threat to their livelihood than the apartheid-spawned socio-economic inequalities.

The mob has long made a determination that the constitution it routinely swears by does not apply to the person of Jacob Zuma. By definition, Zuma is guilty of any charge that can be preferred against him. After all, he has had ample opportunity to prove his innocence.

So goes the argument that upends our very constitution.

But the anti-Zuma campaign is a diversion. Indeed, it would be a serious political miscalculation to reduce this to simply the person of Jacob Zuma and the purported discontent with the president’s administration.

Such a reading would amount to either a display of political naiveté, ideological bankruptcy, or just blatant dishonesty.

What is it that binds the group together? Just look at the main protagonists – captains of industry, mining bosses, the mainstream media, veterans that have an axe to grind, and union leaders prepared to commit ideological and class suicide.

For white monopoly capital, there is no better time for the ANC to be captured. It has ensured that it recruits mainly so-called tried and tested leaders of the ANC to serve on boards of financial institutions. Make no mistake, these are not recruited to advance any revolution. If anything, they are co-opted precisely to frustrate and to disrupt it. And Jacob Zuma has proved to be a serious stumbling block.

Within the party, the recall of President Zuma is meant to be a test or show of strength by its protagonists.

It is an attempt to rebalance and consolidate contemporary political forces. But such a move is bound to lead to infighting never seen in the ANC. The victory of the supposedly winning group at the ANC elective conference was paper-thin. If the removal of an unpopular president of the ANC in Thabo Mbeki was traumatic, this would be the most divisive move of an already weakened and fractured ANC.

It is precisely for this reason that this move is welcomed not only by the mainstream media looking for blood on the floor but also by forces that are historically hostile to the ANC and to the advancement of the Struggle.

There is also a fear that the resolutions adopted at the party’s 54th conference, if implemented, are likely to force the party to reclaim its revolutionary status.

A divided ANC is necessary to ensure that these resolutions do not see the light of day.

The real objective is to defer the realisation of radical economic transformation.

So a diversion that garners a wall of sympathy and support in the media, both locally and internationally, in order to create the impression of mass support must be created.

This is orchestrated carefully to manufacture collective outrage against a president who has never adhered to the Western caricature of what a head of state should be. There are also personal interests involved. It does not come as a surprise that land without expropriation does not sit comfortably with members of the ANC whose families are beneficiaries of what the ANC now bravely calls land theft.

For those who suffered political humiliation in Polokwane, the recall of President Zuma would be a welcome revenge.

They have invested everything possible, time, effort and resources to make Zuma pay for this humiliation. It had been their sole mission in life.

Carefully read, all of the above are calculated efforts to ensure that the ANC is defeated in the 2019 polls.

A united ANC is a threat to white interests and white monopoly capital. Any party that will implement policies that reverse apartheid inequalities to the benefit of a majority is likely to be in power for a long time.

This would include giving material expression to radical economic transformation by ensuring the transfer of land to its rightful owners, provision of free higher education and the rest.

Interestingly, traditional enemies of the ANC are now in the forefront of advising the ANC that should it not recall Zuma, the party is destined for political defeat. In the final analysis, any party that takes heed of the advice of its political foes is not worth saving.

It is also not an accident that the mainstream media has not warmed to the resolutions adopted at the 54th elective conference of the ANC. Its strategy has been to carefully select, sponsor and promote individuals known for their hatred of Zuma and parade these as if they are representative of a majority of ANC members.

What it also seeks to hide is that the notion of recalling Zuma was mooted by some in the conference but was quickly buried as it had no chance in hell of succeeding.

But too much has been invested in this campaign, and the sponsors are looking for a return.

Finally, it is necessary to debunk the common refrain that the outcome of the municipal elections that led to the decline in the ANC’s electoral fortune is a result of one person.

If truth be told, the ANC’s poor performance in the municipal elections had more to do with infighting, political complacency and sheer incompetence.

In Nelson Mandela Bay, the ANC’s preferred candidate, Danny Jordaan, received little support as he was considered an imposition by Luthuli House. And, in its display of growing complacency, the ANC woke up to the challenge of campaigning less than three months before the election.

Its main rival, the DA, had a full-year head start. While the DA was feverishly on the campaign trail, the ANC was embroiled in infighting relating to the misappropriation of funds and tenders.

Finally, the ANC had become too internally focused and as result failed to pay attention to the daily concerns of the electorate.

The current obsession with the recall of President Zuma is likely to lead to the same behaviour.

The same reasons with regard to poor electoral outcomes apply in the case of Gauteng.

First, the Gauteng leadership had also spent an inordinate amount of time focusing on its anti-Zuma campaign, thus neglecting to mobilise the ANC’s traditional voters on the ground. As a matter of fact, Gauteng was engulfed in service delivery protests. These protests continued almost daily with the last service delivery protest taking place a week before the municipal elections.

These protests had nothing to do with Zuma. It was precisely for this reason that the then ANC national executive committee took collective responsibility for the municipal electoral decline.

As if that was not enough, the ANC refused to heed the warning from residents after they rejected Luthuli House’s preferred candidate. It is a matter of historical record that this decision of the ANC sparked widespread violent protest in the city of Tshwane.

As the ANC embarks on its new trajectory, it would need to take heed of lessons from its recent history and make a sober assessment of where it went wrong. Repeating mistakes that cost it dearly is certainly not the way to go.

This includes giving too much attention to advice from its political and ideological foes.

It needs to realise that Zuma will eventually go, but the historical challenges will remain. Our challenges are bigger than any individual. Any country looking for a Messiah will fail. Cyril Ramaphosa must not fall into this trap.

* Seepe is a political analyst.

Sunday Independent

 

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