Is Zuma creating a KZN-led ANC to retain control?

2013-09-09 00:00

I NEVER really wanted to entertain the fears by some sectors of our society that President Jacob Zuma is being “tribal” in his running of the country, turning it into a Kwa-Zulu-Natal affair, until the new appointments of the heads of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

Many of the people I interacted with after last week’s appointments, believe he is consolidating his power and placing his people in pole positions to ensure the success of a “20-year plan”, allegedly drafted by the ANC leadership in KZN.

This plan is reportedly to ensure that the ANC’s next four presidents, and by extension, if it continues to win elections, presidents of the country, are from KZN.

The plan, according to media reports and those close to the fire where these stories are told, is to ensure as many people from KZN as possible are packed into the ruling ANC and cabinet, and other strategic places such as the NPA, to ensure that they are best positioned to move into leadership positions when the time comes.

But most importantly, it is believed that it’s to ensure that Zuma continues to have a hold on power even after he’s no longer president, and to ensure he doesn’t have his day in court for corruption.

The head of the NPA, Mxolisi Nxasana, and the head of the SIU, Vasantrai Soni, are from KZN. Nxasana used to be the chairperson of the KZN Law Society.

Here is a list of cabinet ministers after the recent reshuffle, who are from KZN.

• Justice: J.T. Radebe.

• Police: N. Mthethwa.

• Intelligence: S. Cwele.

• Public Enterprise: M. Gigaba.

• Social Development: B. Dlamini.

• Communications: Y. Carrim.

• Correctional Services: S. Ndebele.

• Finance: P. Gordhan .

• Higher Education: B. Nzimande.

• Labour: N.M. Olifant.

• Home Affairs: M.N. Pandor.

When one tries to look at tribal politics, as some call them, one cannot say they started with Zuma.

But I was in Polokwane when he was ushered in with the hope that he would help deal with the “Xhosa-Nostra” that was starting to rule the roost in Thabo Mbeki’s government. Zuma was seen as a unifier, different from Mbeki.

I remember the words of ANC elder Zola Skweyiya when he warned against tribal politics that characterised the political terrain prior to Polokwane.

Uncomfortable with the trend developing in the movement, Skweyiya said: “The demon of tribalism is rising … and we ignore it at our peril. I was dreaming when I thought we had moved away from ethnicity. Many issues still centre on it.”

How prophetic.

It has been said that most of the values that have held the ANC together over the past 100 years have broken down under Zuma.

Some of the things happening under Zuma are regarded as foreign to the movement and at the rate it’s going, the party may disintegrate under his watch, leaving only the “KZANC” in his hands.

The “demon of tribalism” Skweyiya is referring to may come to haunt us one day.

Already the effects are being felt within Cosatu.

It is believed that SACP head Blade Nzimande, who is very much behind Zuma, is leading the onslaught against those within the federation who are sympathetic to suspended Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi, most of whom are Xhosas.

Nzimande is accused of sowing divisions within the workers’ movement in a bid to weaken it, thereby ensuring that the federation only has leaders who will say yebo to Zuma, and not question him or his policies.

Vavi, who has been vocal against corruption and Zuma, was the first to fall. Sadtu president Thobile Ntola (a Xhosa), was next.

He was suspended after he gave Vavi a platform from which to apologise for having sex with a junior staffer. Bheki Ntshalintshali, Nzimande’s homeboy from KZN, is acting in Vavi’s position and tipped to replace him, not if, but when Vavi is fired.

Next would be Numsa secretary-general Irvin Jim, if his organisation doesn’t break away from Cosatu before the axe falls.

This, and the pattern Zuma is following in appointing people, fuels suspicions created after the Mail & Guardian’s article about the “20-year plan” by a caucus of Zuma’s supporters who want to ensure that ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa does not replace him as president.

Instead, the group wants Zuma’s ex-wife and AU Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, also from KZN, to replace Msholozi.

The same supporters would like to see former KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize, who was appointed party treasurer in Mangaung, take over the party’s deputy presidency, while lobbying for Gigaba to replace Gwede Mantashe, (a Xhosa), as ANC secretary-general.

Zuma must be careful not to confirm the fears of those who have long bemoaned the fact that his core support is regional or ethnic.

It’s becoming obvious that he is paying for loyalty, and this may give rise to a strong anti-Zuma counter-reaction from other provinces, whose leaders feel ignored.

• Mangena waga Makgoba is a

communicator and former journalist.

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