Bertrand Russel reminded us “Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” I thought of these words of Russel when I tried to make sense of the call of the African National Congress National Working Committee and the anticipated special NEC meeting in instructing its office bearers to engage President Zuma to resign.
On Sunday night the ANC officials as mandated by the NWC, arrived at Mahlamba Ndlopfu to politely ask its deployed member to self-willingly resign. We are told the officials who came to meet with Zuma excluded the newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. Some playfully claim he was busy working on his State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2018 address. The call to ask President Zuma to resign we are told is anchored in a claim of two centres of power. Closer examination confirms its really anchored in a drummed-up fear of 2019 election loss as foretold by the opposition and uncritically appropriated in belief by the ANC.
I have somewhere else contended the ANC as the ordained political leader of society fails to lead our discourse, it merely responds, reacts and often re-echoes in defeat of surrender. That space is wholly and particularly occupied by the DA as leader of the opposition. The latter has again led the ANC on a Zuma must go campaign and after eight failed motions of no confidence, finally has succeeded to convince the ANC that its SA president must go. Regardless to how the ANC may protest this is not its decision we all know it is not, the ANC is finally conceding to what the opposition has been badgering them with forever. They saying to the opposition you were always right.
I will attempt to argue why this is an irrational call saturated with panic as engineered by an opposition led prophecy of ANC doom come 2019.
Firstly, why was the subject of a SA president resigning not an undeniable priority matter of the 54th Conference? The interest for this subject received no attention at Conference, meaning it could not have been important. Certainly, if the two-centre notion weighs this heavy, Conference should have had the wisdom to foresee this and anticipate the impact of it as well as engage the means to navigate that.
It can’t be that six weeks after Conference the most pressing matter becomes a recall in frame of insistence on resignation as the means for conference to realise its resolutions. What would be the material reasons of justification for such? If not the crafted sustained campaign of the DA based on its known three themes of cadre deployment, corruption and capture.
Secondly, the ANC as an organisation in government has been here before it knows what its irrational decision in September 2008 produced. How does any right-thinking leadership afford the ANC to be subjected again to the same, when it knows the dastard implications such had for the organisation at all levels? Is the ANC hellbent to have history repeat itself the first in a farce the second in tragedy, as Marx warned us of?
The recall of Mbeki in 2008 saw him too not as ANC president and therefore an easy target, yet the repercussions for the organisations from the forming of a COPE to an everlasting divide still plagues the movement till this hour. For some illogic the ANC has in this season again decided to mount that proverbial horse and believes it will attain different results. Insanity we are told is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results, a united ANC. This leadership appears brave on the wrong subjects when we expect it to be less opaque on that which matters, conference resolutions of radical economic transformation.
Thirdly, recalling Zuma in frame of insisting he resigns appears an easy way to claim victory in the 2019 election booth. The crafted believe that Zuma is hated by the South African masses who will turn out to punish the ANC is now believed in the ANC. This conclusion is drawn because some in the ANC have convinced themselves that the sum total of all ANC problems is Jacob Zuma. Unfortunately, the road to organisational renewal cannot have as only gate that of a resigning president. It is rather oversimplified and short-sighted, given the history of the ANC in democratic leading of South Africa.
In the fourth instance, the 54th Conference resolved on unity as the fundamental objective for which it would seek to work. Granted its 54th Conference did not attain unity by itself, it is better to consider it as having created the conditions for an opportunity for unity. Conference unequivocally resolved that it will strive to work for this unity since it is cognisant of the depth of the divisions and admitted factionalised reality of the organisation since Polokwane. The call for unity was its acknowledgment that the ANC was never the same after the irrational decision of its recalling of its SA president in 2008. It readily admits the error of this decision for its lived through ramifications.
Knowing the delicacy and sensitivity of this unity for which Conference really only created the conditions, how can the NWC come to this decision when it knows its decision to call for resignation will only divide instead of unite. To pretend that conference delivered an outright majority is to be deceiving again. The volatility of this unity lays in how its managed because the existing ANC president narrowly won the contest and the ANC’s biggest province is not represented in this new leadership team. Call it tribal or whatever, the illogic of discarding the reality of such a large constituency as nothing more than being tribal is again confirming the irrationality of the choices of the NWC and possibly the NEC for its upcoming Wednesday special sitting.
In the fifth instance the call for a resignation flies in the face of the utterances of the ANC president Ramaphosa, who told us all that the transition from the 5th to 6th administration is happening smoothly since the two leaders are talking and have agreed to weekly Tuesday meetings. Clearly, very few if any of these meetings have taken place. This call for a resignation in double edge sward fashion calls to question in doubt the Ramaphosa leadership as not trustworthy, for his public word, if not easily influenced to move from what he commits to in public space. It will become increasingly difficult to take the ANC president serious when he can vacillate and in south Africans sense mantashed so suddenly from what he shares as gospel.
In the sixth instance, there is a convenient peddled claim of major differences the Ramaphosa immediate take over marks. At times some are deceived to assume the incoming president of the ANC is from Mars in newness of ideas, ethic, political praxis, freshness of views etc and singularity of power to wield authority like none before.
It is only true until you realize Deputy President Ramaphosa is part of this Zuma administration, he is in charge of government business. To remotely pretend in his position of SA deputy president he firstly is exempted from the good, bad and ugly of an administration he earns his salary from is to be deceiving the public. Secondly to assume he can act outside the space of his exacted mandate as articulated in resolutions is to fail to appreciate that ANC presidents are custodians and servants of the conferences that delivered them. I ask what is it that he will do now before May 2019 when we assume the 6th Administration will take effect?
In the seventh instance what is it that the current SA president did that this NWC can categorically ask him to resign? This question as simple as it may appear is a fundamental one, beyond the easily bandied claims what did Zuma do that he must resign. As a deployed member of the ANC there is no evidence that he has been in opposite to the resolutions that the 54th Conference adopted. When we ask what did Jacob Zuma do that he must resign, we do so conscious of the fact that he has appointed the Justice Zondo’s Judicial Commission to investigate the claims of state of capture is under way. Parliament has its own process on SOE’s and the Hawks and NPA are active in their investigations on the same score. He has announced the amended education policy.
Lastly, the ANC NWC may tell us it is concerned for a loss come 2019. The facts are the ANC’s campaign will not have Zuma as its face. The campaigning of the ANC will be led and driven by the team of leadership that was produced by the recent conference. That leadership’s task was made easy when Zuma announced he will not run for a third term. It would appear the ANC in this season has determined that Zuma is the fulcrum reason for its current challenges and its losses in August 2016 Municipal Elections. This may be the case if we accept that under his watch this took place yet it fails to recognise the ANC’s own research and analysis that confirmed collective responsibility for its poor performance and bad decisions in particular the Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay choice of mayors.
Alas’ I must conclude the ANC believes so much in the opposition that it can act in irrational sense regardless to how much more damage it may inflict upon itself as it derails its own unity and renewal calls. The ANC is an organisation in panic mode led by the opposition who predetermined that SONA 2018 will be in the state it is 48hours before it. The ANC has as usual succumb to the pressure of outside forces and trust them more. These forces told the ANC if you want to have any chance of winning come 2019, you must now offload the SA president. This is an irrational decision, pressed ripe by panic and driven by a CR 17 hardliner campaigning group, that refuse to take off its CR Siyavuma attire as we saw with the vile actions of a Thabang Setona, secretary of branch 62 of in the inner city.
Perhaps the ANC will count the true costs when those whom they underestimate in support of the SA president do what the clever blacks did in the municipal elections of 2016, stay away and deliver the elections into coalition forces and powers. Maybe then this repeated history will evidence the tragedy that an emotional NWC today craft in irrationality.
As we await the NEC to sit and decide to recall Zuma, we know the ANC is about to hand early Christmas gifts to the DA – a delayed SONA 2018 with a newly elected president as they dictated on one hand. On the other hand a motion of no confidence engineered February 22.
I ask myself how can a governing party entrusted to lead by the masses succumb to the dictates of the opposition, be trusted to lead come 2019? It seems more rational easier to let the opposition be trusted to lead, after all they direct the ANC in its core decisions.
Will it do the same when the DA and EFF Opposition begin to turn the heat on the ANC President as they already have promised?
Asking Zuma to resign is not a remains an irrational decision or it is not congruent to any resolution of the conference. Russel told us what fear does for decision making, it simply leads to irrationality.
Clyde N. Ramalaine
Political Commentator & Writer
Chairperson of TMoSA Foundation (The Thinking Masses of SA)