Zuma’s legacy gridlock

2018-01-14 06:06
President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

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Aren’t spin doctors wonderful? Imagine the ANC talking about “unity” when the self-evident truth is the opposite.

The score is tied.

In the media coverage since the ANC’s elective conference, the language used has varied – poisoned chalice, booby-trap, toxic mix, hung jury and mythical unity.

Speaking of spin doctors, Cyril Ramaphosa referred to the diverse opposition as Mickey Mouse parties.

That reminded me of an old joke: “Did you hear what Mickey Mouse got for his birthday this year? He got an ANC watch!”

Starting with the way the ANC counts the votes of its own party delegates, this is the Mickey Mouse party!

Not to mention the vote buying each side accused the other of ahead of the elective conference.

The gridlock is here to stay.

But it may come off like the layers of an onion. First, we have the “two centres of power” conundrum.

Jacob Zuma stated in 2016 on a radio talk show that the president of the party should also be the state president. Now he is back-tracking.

The truth is that, in most countries, a distinction is made between the two roles.

The DA has James Selfe and Mmusi Maimane. South Africa is a constitutional democracy, so letting one person occupy both posts is like having two accelerators and no brakes.

No wonder we end up with a president with a bloated Cabinet, Parliament on a leash and a runaway train called state capture.

We need two centres of power.

But we can’t escape now because, even if Zuma leaves, you have his cronies David Mabuza, Ace Magashule and Jessie Duarte in the top six.

You can’t change a leopard’s spots. This is the latest manifestation of the Premier League. Brought to you by Zuma.

That is a split.

It happens in democracies – like when the Democrats won the White House (executive branch), but the Republicans won both the House and the Senate.

Just ask Barack Obama. Did they call that unity?

No, that is the way voters apply the brakes on their politicians.

Another manifestation of voters “hedging their bets” is to vote one party in at national level and other parties in at municipal level.

"This is happening because voters are not just cannon fodder for the ANC.

"They know about deployment and how it is abused by the crony capitalists, who then invent slogans like “radical economic transformation”.

We saw this already in Venezuela – socialist rhetoric being the mask for looting and plundering by crony capitalists. Once bitten, twice shy.

The voters are aware, thanks to the media and the “lawfare” of civil society.

The real gridlock (AKA unity) is coming next year.

When the voters punish the ANC and coalition forces take over government, you are going to see the blue DA, the United Democratic Movement (UDM), the Congress of the People, African Democratic Change and Agang join hands with the red Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the SA Communist Party, the National Union of Mineworkers, Cosatu and the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) in a show of unity.

If a split top six can make it work, why can’t the reds and the blues also call it unity?

If the Zuma “triumphalists” can get along with the Ramaphosa “reformers”, even the Cosatu-sheviks could reconcile with the Saftu-sheviks.

There is talk that the Nelson Mandela magic has fallen on UDM leader Bantu Holomisa to preside over this new unity project with two deputy presidents – Maimane and the EFF’s Julius Malema.

Just think of the Cabinet potential for such a coalition that includes Terror Lekota, Blade Nzimande, Makhosi Khoza, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Mamphela Ramphele, Floyd Shivambu, Herman Mashaba, Irvin Jim, Solly Msimanga, Zwelinzima Vavi, Athol Trollip, Solly Mapaila, Helen Zille and Bheki Ntshalintshali.

Now there is a vision of unity if there ever was one.

Portfolios such as finance, trade and industry, and small business development would go to the DA.Portfolios such as land and agriculture would go to the EFF.

Labour, social development and higher education would go to the other reds.

If you really think this red and blue coalition could work, then believe the ANC spin doctors when they talk about unity.

Stephens is executive director at the Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership

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Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  cyril ramaphosa

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