The #AmINext protests of the past two weeks were a game-changer for South Africa, writes Adriaan Basson.
High level clouds. Mild.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (Sharlene Rood, News24)
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Recent developments in the ANC seem to
suggest that it is destination Union Buildings for Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Reports suggest that she is to be sworn in
as a member of Parliament. It was also suggested that she will likely be joining Cabinet.
It would require a Cabinet reshuffle for a
position to be available for Dlamini-Zuma. Given that President Jacob Zuma’s
last Cabinet reshuffle is currently still the subject of court adjudication, one
wonders whether it’s strategic for him to undertake another reshuffle.
If the president fires a Cabinet minister
with the clear intention of creating a position for Dlamini-Zuma, it might
spark a serious mutiny by his detractors, especially those who believe he is preparing
to steal the December elective conference in order to install his preferred
While conditions are such that Zuma should
not be too adventurous, the reality is that he is working in a very tight
timeframe and things need to get done, no matter what.
Among some of the things that are on Mr.
Zuma’s to-do list is to start working towards a point where Dlamini-Zuma is
accepted by the general public as president of the country. It’s all about
planting an idea and waiting for it to flourish.
This work is carried out at the same time
that Zuma’s allies are working hard to convince ANC members of the viability of
Dlamini-Zuma as a leader of the party. Upon her return from the African Union
(AU) she did not join government, which afforded her some time to spend on the
road building a rapport with ANC members.
Of course, some are saying that during her
tenure as the AU chair, Dlamini-Zuma spent much of her time in South Africa
instead of Addis Ababa. I thought it was strategic to keep her out of government
at first so she could focus on her campaign.
By serving in Cabinet, Dlamini-Zuma will be
taking on the fight on her own. She will be confronting another frontrunner in Cyril
Ramaphosa, who is also using his position as deputy president of the country to
show how he will carry himself if he is elected to lead the ANC, and
subsequently the country.
Ramaphosa is gaining more legitimacy as a
potential president. The surge in his legitimacy – despite scandals about
extra-marital affairs – might have worried Zuma’s camp to a point where an
urgent intervention became necessary.
If Dlamini-Zuma wins the ANC leadership
contest in December, Zuma will happily bid everyone goodbye after the
conference. There will be no need for him to subject himself to further
humiliation in Parliament.
If Ramaphosa wins, Zuma will also have to
leave. One way or another, he must be thinking of different departure
The reason he will be willing to take the
risk and reshuffle his Cabinet is because he himself will be reshuffled if he
leaves too much to chance at the elective conference. He has to act now and
consolidate his position, or else a decision will be made for him regarding how
he leaves office.
If Dlamini-Zuma is sworn in as a member of
Parliament, and subsequently as a Cabinet minister, she will face off with a growing
number of ANC mutineers stationed in the legislature.
Quite a number of ANC MPs have had it with
their party and they are not willing to stay quiet about their misgivings on Zuma’s
These are the people that Dlamini-Zuma can
count on to give her a tough time when she visits Parliament as a member of Cabinet.
Appointing her to Cabinet is a very risky but worthy move in that it could
further increase her fortunes to lead the country, unless a serious revolt
within the ANC breaks out.
The stakes are high. Zuma wants a smooth
transition amidst turbulence in his party. He has limited moves left, and it is
clear that he will make those moves.
- 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.* Only comments that contribute to a constructive debate will be approved by moderators.
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