The Zuma moment

2012-12-23 10:02

Second term will be about unification, implementation

More Mr Fix It, less Umshini Wam.

That’s what President Jacob Zuma’s second term in office will be about,according to those close to him.

City Press interviewed eight sources involved in Zuma’s campaign in the wake of his overwhelming victory in Mangaung this week, which saw senior ANC leaders opposing Zuma being booted out.

On Friday, Zuma said it was not up to him how he would be remembered.

At a business breakfast, he said: ­“People must decide how they want to ­remember me.”

But those who helped the president triumph in Mangaung said his second term would be about unifying the ANC and implementing government policy.

Unshackled by the need to keep an eye on re-election, his backers insist Zuma’s second term will be better.

With Cyril Ramaphosa, who co-wrote the National Development Plan (NDP), as his deputy, Zuma will use this document as his blueprint to fix government in his second term.

His international relations adviser and national executive committee member, Lindiwe Zulu, told City Press it was a great relief when the plan was finally adopted by the party, so it is now placed at the epicentre of policy.

She said the NDP would be Zuma’s main focus.

“It is something he had to get everybody to believe in and now it’s been adopted, it’s his number one priority.”

The NDP’s central philosophy is active citizenship – working together as government and civil society to grow the economy, fix the education system, secure an energy-efficient future and halve unemployment over the medium term.

A provincial ANC leader, who preferred not to be named, said: “The issue now for the president is to finish the second term on a high note, to be remembered as a person who implemented ANC policy and who unified the party.

“The framework is there. It’s now about implementing the NDP, the national health insurance (scheme), the infrastructure roll-out. It’s about fixing the security cluster and education. It’s about unifying the party again.

“Mandela did two terms (from 1991 to 1997) and left the ANC unified.

This is what Zuma needs to do to leave a lasting legacy,” the leader said.

A KwaZulu-Natal Zuma lobbyist said term two was about implementing policy.

“The president’s legacy will be implementing that and making sure that there is continuity at the end of his term. This is not about intellectualism. This is about implementing policy of the ANC.

“There is a need for a renewed social compact, where government, the private sector and civil society all play their role in implementing the NDP under the president’s leadership. We are likely to see this being done to pull all sectors together.”

While speculation about an early Cabinet reshuffle is rife (the names of ­Housing Minister Tokyo Sexwale, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile have been mentioned as possible casualties), some of Zuma’s backers believe this would be “problematic”.

The Mangaung conference ended with Zuma and other top ANC leaders preaching messages of unity, with ousted deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe being appointed head of the party’s political school.

Zuma also insisted that Motlanthe would remain deputy president of the country until the 2014 general election.

A pro-Zuma ANC leader said: “There are very good, very capable comrades who have lost. This is part of politics. It would be a shame to lose their skills.”

Zulu said the problems identified in the run-up to Mangaung in branches also need serious attention.

“We realised the people were only interested in positions and what they call projects. This is where a person is elected knowing he will have access to resources which are called projects. He gives this then to his family and friends,” she said, adding that the ANC needed to work on its legitimacy and reputation.

“We must work to make it an organisation ­respected by society overall. We must get the trust of all South Africans.”

Western Cape provincial chairman and Deputy International Relations Minister Marius Fransman says Zuma will work to give clarity on policy issues.

“There was such incoherent messaging on policy issues and the president tried to explain, but people were still in doubt. Now he’ll have clarity,” he said.

Discipline will also be a priority for Zuma.

“He was extremely worried about how things were eroding in terms of discipline and will want to leave a better ANC structure behind. You’ll see a president who is much more direct,” Fransman added, referring to how Zuma will deal with ill-discipline.

– Additional reporting by Carien du Plessis

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