ANALYSIS: Zuma's desperate claims open new front in battle between ANC factions

2019-07-17 05:11
Jacob Zuma confers with his legal team.

Jacob Zuma confers with his legal team. (Felix Dlangamandla)

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The desperate claims by former president Jacob Zuma about a multi-decade plot to "remove" him from society and the infiltration of spies in the ANC has opened a new front in the internecine battle inside the governing party.

On Monday Zuma – without providing evidence in the form of corroborating events, dates, documents or affidavits – alleged that three intelligence agencies were responsible for running a campaign against him for almost 30 years. The same agencies (two foreign, one local) parachuted collaborators into the ANC, with some even being "nurtured" to "perhaps lead" the party, he said.

These claims span the leaderships of Nelson Mandela to Cyril Ramaphosa, with the national executive committees of both those leaders directly fingered by Zuma.

Former president Jacob Zuma.
Former president Jacob Zuma testifies at the Zondo commission. (News24)

They have been dismissed by everyone involved, including alleged askari Ngoako Ramathlodi, former SANDF chief Siphiwe Nyanda and others.

On Tuesday Sydney Mufamadi joined in, telling 702 Zuma has "an exagegrated sense of self importance" and that Ramathlodi and Nyanda were both critical of Zuma's "lack of capacity".

And on Wednesday former ANC NEC member Jeremy Cronin wrote in his his column on News24: "At least from the late-1980s there was a general perception within the ANC leadership that Zuma was an unsuitable person to be entrusted with security and intelligence related activity."

This is happening at a time when Ramaphosa is facing an assault on various fronts:

·         Public Protector, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has become a political player with her relentless assault on Pravin Gordhan, Ramaphosa’s right-hand man in his efforts to clean up the state.

·         She’s also at the ready to unleash her report into Ramaphosa’s dealings with Bosasa, with Mkhwebane expected to order the harshest sanction against Ramaphosa that she can muster under law.

·         Inside Luthuli House the party's secretary general, Ace Magashule, seems to be constructing a parallel organisation, with his defiance over the South African Reserve Bank matter a case in point.

·         In the broader party there also seems to be an effort to mobilise support ahead of the party’s mid-term national general council next year, with the narrative emerging that Ramaphosa’s leadership collective has not adhered to the ANC's conference resolutions taken in 2017.

·         The EFF, a party that needs every bit of constitutional drama it can lay its hands on to deflect from its own woes involving alleged corruption related to the looting of VBS Mutual Bank, is frothing at the mouth to attack Ramaphosa in the same way they have laid into Gordhan.

·         The return of a Bell Pottinger inspired disinformation campaign, infesting social media and with the connivance of established media titles who publish regardless of evidence or relevance, is muddying the waters.

And now Zuma has made his flimsy but dramatic claims of spies inside the ANC, following it up on Tuesday with the one-two punch of alleging death threats against himself and his family (there was no mention that those threats, like the poisoning and assassination plot in Durban) was reported to the authorities for investigation.

On Tuesday, during a break in proceedings, Magashule gave an impromptu press conference where the party's secretary general, with furrowed brow, agreed that Zuma's claims must be investigated "because they are very serious".

ace magashule
ANC secretary general Ace Magashule. (Felix Dlangamandla)

Behind the scenes, however, there is real concern that Zuma's testimony could very well cause deep and lasting damage to the ANC.

Some close to the leadership feel that Zuma, his lack of evidence on Monday notwithstanding, can wreak havoc with what he does know about some individuals in the leadership.

Some tigers you leave alone and you don't pull at their tails after they retire, is the metaphor being used. Like former intelligence chiefs and former presidents. Zuma should have been left alone, seems to be the sentiment.

Magashule knows this very well. And he also knows that beyond the rancour about Gordhan, the anticipated adverse finding against Ramaphosa and the emerging disinformation campaign, an ochestrated witchhunt against askaris would be most helpful in the offensive to take back the ANC.

The holding room on the fourth floor of the Hill on Empire office building in Parktown, Johannesburg where the commission is sitting, has over the past two days been a hive of activity as ANC heavies have gone to meet Zuma.

Some have met him behind closed doors, like Magashule and Faith Muthambi, while others have awaited him in the corridor, exchanging words of support and pleasantries, like Malusi Gigaba and Supra Mahumapelo did.

Earlier on Tuesday Mayihlome Tshwete, son of Steve Tshwete, former minister of sport as well as safety and security, tweeted he's happy his father isn’t alive to see the ANC "implode".

That process could gather pace thanks to Zuma’s performance at Zondo.


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