Ralph Mathekga

ANC finally getting its 'Lula moment', but it's not what they hoped for

2018-04-09 10:17
A woman carries a poster that reads in Portuguese "Lula is Innocent," during a protest in support of the Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in Brasilia, Brazil. (Eraldo Peres, AP)

A woman carries a poster that reads in Portuguese "Lula is Innocent," during a protest in support of the Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in Brasilia, Brazil. (Eraldo Peres, AP)

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

Brazil's once revered revolutionary president Lula da Silva has begun serving a 12-year jail sentence following a corruption conviction last year.

I've been following the developments in Brazil with keen interest because their story could not be closer to that of South Africa on many levels. Lula has been one of the few South American presidents who struck a strong solidarity with leftist formations in South Africa, namely the ANC, Cosatu and SACP. It is Cosatu's fascination with Lula's economic progress that got the federation talking about a "Lula moment" for South Africa.

Lula's interventionist policies were credited for lifting a significant number of Brazilians out of poverty. Given what has happened with the total collapse of the economy in Brazil, I wonder if Cosatu still hold Lula in high regard. 

Towards the ANC's national conference in Mangaung in 2012, talks within the tripartite alliance were that South Africa needed to capture its "Lula moment". That ignited thoughts of radical interventionist policies within the tripartite alliance. Alliance members debated the idea of a "radical second phase" of the transition. The confusion was palpable. Luckily, nothing came out of the discussions on this, until recently when the ANC adopted radical interventionist policy resolutions at the Nasrec conference.

It took a long time for the ANC-led government to begin to sink its teeth into the "Lula moment" by voting for a parliamentary motion to expropriate land without compensation.

The "Lula moment" is here, but in stranger ways than we could imagine.

Lula is fighting to stay out of jail, and he argues that the corruption conviction against him is a neoliberal vendetta to undermine his progressive (leftist) legacy and prevent his political comeback.

The script perfectly fits the one that is being written in South Africa against Lula's admirer, former president Jacob Zuma.

Zuma has reignited his political life as he is fighting to stay out of court, and possibly jail. He successfully defied the ANC's call that no party members should go and support him in his first court appearance. Not only did supporters go out to support him in court, but they also identified themselves as ANC members defending their comrade.

Zuma also likes to portray himself as a revolutionary who is being castigated by those who are aligned to the markets.

Back to the Brazilian script, Lula's supporters are mobilising against his incarceration in such a way that the issue has become a defence of the progressive agenda, an agenda that Lula has identified with throughout his presidency. To put it simply, the neoliberals want Lula off the street in the same manner that they want Zuma off the sidewalk.

The ANC is in a difficult position in the sense that if the Zuma project gains momentum and brings about instabilities within the party, it would raise doubts about the ANC's willingness to walk away from Zuma legacy. This spells bad news for the party in the 2019 elections, and it will get the opposition parties to regain lost grounds against them.

With mixed messages such as its initial willingness to use the state's money to pay for Zuma's legal fees, the ANC is clearly leading from behind on the matter. Zuma must be watching the developments around Lula very closely. Brazil is at crossroads because of the Lula issue, and so is South Africa due to the Zuma standoff.

The two cases show how the former presidents have to keep crawling back to power, not because they have an agenda to implement, but because that is the only condition on which they can stay out of jail.

- Ralph Mathekga is a Fellow at the SARChI Chair: African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at the University of Johannesburg and author of When Zuma Goes

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:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  brazil
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
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
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.