Adriaan Basson

President Dlamini-Zuma’s four headaches

2017-01-10 10:29
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (AFP)

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Get used to calling her President Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

I have little reason to doubt that if the ANC held its national elective conference today, the former minister of home affairs and health, current chairperson of the AU Commission and ex-wife of President Jacob Zuma would emerge victorious.

(A side note: yes, it is relevant to note that she is Zuma's ex-wife. She is obviously not only that, but to omit this from her résumé would be an attempt at altering history and denying the bond that exists between two adults who have children together).

The endorsement of Dlamini-Zuma by the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) to take over from her ex-husband as ANC president in December is formal confirmation that she is the Zuma camp's candidate.

Who is in the Zuma camp? At this stage we can comfortably count the delegates from the Free State, Mpumalanga, North West, a large chunk of KwaZulu-Natal, the ANCWL and the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in Dlamini-Zuma's corner.

These are the people who have safeguarded Zuma against 2016's gruelling blows dealt by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, the Constitutional Court, a litany of NGO's, opposition parties, ANC veterans and even members of his own Cabinet.

The Zuma camp is led by the so-called "premier league" consisting of Ace Magashule (Free State), DD Mabuza (Mpumalanga), Supra Mahumapelo (North West) and Sihle Zikalala (KwaZulu-Natal), as well as league leaders Bathabile Dlamini (ANCWL) and Collen Maine (ANCYL).

All indications are that Dlamini-Zuma will be challenged by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for the party's top spot. Cosatu, which has no voting powers in the ANC, has formally endorsed him as their candidate.

To beat Dlamini-Zuma, Ramaphosa will need more votes than she does. This sounds simple, but Zuma's opponents got it badly wrong at the party's last national conference in Mangaung in 2012.

I simply see no indication at this stage that Zuma's core supporters won't back his choice of successor: Dlamini-Zuma.

The maths is simple: even if Ramaphosa was to get all the votes from the remaining provinces' delegates (including a slice of KwaZulu-Natal), he would lose. For Ramaphosa to win, he would need to split the premier league or secure the majority of KwaZulu-Natal behind him.

I struggle to see this happening, but stranger things have happened in politics and it's still early in the year. Ramaphosa is known as a masterful strategist and behind-the-scenes player, but as the year progresses he will have to battle more openly to create the perception of a winning candidate.

This is hugely important in the ANC. Nobody wants to back a loser (as we saw in Polokwane a decade ago).

But it will not be all smooth sailing for Dlamini-Zuma. She has at least four headaches to deal with:

1. The premier league

How will she balance the claims and demands by her supporters with her own ideas and ambitions?

Let's say, for example, if she wanted to retain Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, but Magashule and co told her to appoint Des van Rooyen, would she be in a position to tell them off? Or would she be beholden to the wishes and demands of the premier league, the leagues and the Saxonwold Shebeen?

I understand that Dlamini-Zuma is aware of and concerned about the risk of being seen as the premier league's candidate, mainly because of the big and small skeletons and baggage they have. There is strong evidence to suggest that Magashule, Mabuza and Mahumapelo have long "captured" their provinces.

She does not want be seen as being "captured" by the "bad guys" in the ANC. So what to do? Dlamini-Zuma's campaign needs a serious injection of moral authority; being the Trojan Horse for Zuma's sycophants might get her the job, but will seriously jeopardise her efforts to save the ANC from more electoral defeats.

2. Elections 2019

A victory by the Zuma camp may further alienate disenfranchised ANC voters who didn't vote in last year's local government elections or those who made their crosses next to the DA or EFF.

Julius Malema and Mmusi Maimane will have a field day painting a Dlamini-Zuma-led ANC as merely more of what we got used to under Zuma: corrupt, inefficient government. And they might be right if Dlamini-Zuma is beholden to the likes of Magashule and Mabuza, who have already put up their hands for senior ANC positions in return for their support.

This is a serious quagmire for Dlamini-Zuma. She will have to be seen to be "fixing" the ANC's problems to get back unhappy voters, particularly in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. How can she do this if their problem is Jacob Zuma and his legacy?

There is a very real chance the ANC could lose Gauteng in 2019 if her election is perceived as "more of the same". Dlamini-Zuma wouldn't want to preside over the party's slide into a rural political movement with little urban support outside KwaZulu-Natal.

3. What to do with Ramaphosa?

I've heard rumours of exploratory talks between Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa to agree on a strategy that will unify, rather than divide the ANC. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this, but it would make sense for two sensible, senior ANC leaders to try and save the party. It would also make sense for both of them to want the top job and reject being the other's deputy.

Ramaphosa can rightfully say he's had his turn as deputy and should, according to ANC tradition, be Zuma's obvious successor. Dlamini-Zuma can rightfully say she is the most senior woman ANC politician with continental experience and that after 105 years the ANC should act on its word and elect its first female president.

If there is a race and Ramaphosa loses, Dlamini-Zuma can hardly afford to lose him and his supporters. The possibility of a Ramaphosa-led split should send shivers down the spine of any right-thinking ANC supporter.

4. What to do with Zuma?

It's been said so many times that it's now almost become a political truth: Jacob Zuma wants his ex-wife to succeed him to keep him out of jail. The truth is obviously much more complicated.

Firstly, Dlamini-Zuma can never promise Zuma that she will protect him from prosecution. The best she can do is to appoint a politically pliable national director of public prosecutions and hope that he or she will not go after the former president.

Our legal system doesn't allow for amnesty to be given to sitting or former presidents against criminal prosecution. Dlamini-Zuma will have to change the law if that is the route she and the ANC want to go.

Although it is probably true that she would prefer not to see the father of her children being subjected to lengthy prosecutions and possible prison time, Dlamini-Zuma will have limited leeway to protect her ex-husband and will be watched with an eagle eye for any possible attempts at influencing the criminal justice system.

- Adriaan Basson is Editor of News24. Follow him on Twitter: @adriaanbasson.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    nkosazana dlamini-zuma
X
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
44 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.