Zuma is lighting a fire with his sinister words

Vladimir Putin shakes hands with President Jacob Zuma during their meeting in Moscow in 2010. Picture: Misha Japaridze/Reuters
Vladimir Putin shakes hands with President Jacob Zuma during their meeting in Moscow in 2010. Picture: Misha Japaridze/Reuters

Jacob Zuma of Nkandla, who so loves the ANC, has declared war on the 106-year-old organisation and the irony is his party handed him the smoking gun.

But first a recap.

“Wenzen’ u Zuma? Wenzen’ u Zuma? Khawuphendule/Wen’ ulawulwa, wen’ ulawulwa yi Propaganda/ Awu sitshele ukuth’ u Zuma wenzeni...”

A song best sung by Sihle Zikalala. He used to be the chairperson of the ANC in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal until a court of law found that the conference which elected him was null and void.

Others who used to love to sing this song include Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association and other cheerleaders.

It was sung with great conviction.

In the last two months or so, however, the rallying question which paints Zuma as a victim has gotten quieter. In fact it is now non-existent.

I was reminded of this song during ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s first litmus test of leadership – he failed dismally – where he was tasked with announcing the outcomes of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting which decided that Zuma must go.

Looking to be in excruciating pain, Magashule waffled his way through questions around the future of Zuma.

Did he refuse to resign?

“I don’t know what will happen but let’s leave it to President Jacob Zuma,” Magashule said.

Has he been given a deadline?

“I am sure the president will respond tomorrow, there is no deadline. Tomorrow the president will respond. I don’t know whether you call it a deadline, but I know the president will respond tomorrow.”

And the key question, what has Zuma done?

“When we took this decision we did not take this decision because comrade Jacob Zuma has done anything wrong,” he said.

It’s not his links to the Gupta family and it is not perceptions that he is corrupt which led to voters giving the ANC the middle finger in three major metros in 2016.

It is not a Constitutional Court judgment which found that he violated his oath of office, it is not that he has been implicated in state capture, it is not midnight reshuffles which send the very fickle and factional rand into a tailspin.

If Magashule’s briefing is anything to go by, recalling Zuma is just for the ambience.

Magashule’s failure to articulate what Zuma had done wrong was all the ammunition Zuma needed to start a war.

It paved the way for Zuma to reach deep into where he still has pockets of support and to suggest to those who still love him that now was the time to fight for him.

It’s like when you get into trouble with your mother and then rally support from your father to get her to leave you alone.

Zuma has come out swinging; it’s a different kind of battle for now, a psychological one, but the man is planting the seeds for something more sinister.

“The whole of 2017 this matter was being raised. In the NEC itself we had two major discussions on the same request that had come and I don’t see anything new that has been brought. I asked at that time as well what it is I have done but speaker after speaker never came to say what it is that I have done,” Zuma said in an interview on Wednesday.

“I need to be furnished on what I have done. No one has been able to provide what it is I have done,” he said again.

“I found it very unfair in a sense, very unfair to me that this issue must be raised all the time.”

If at this stage you were not altogether convinced that this is a man under attack, he revisited the Nasrec conference.

“Whilst within the conference, I heard via the grapevine that in fact Zuma must not give the state of the nation address. The second one, when he leaves in December he must never come back, while the conference was going on. Then there was ‘no, Zuma must go in this conference’, there were preparations being made and I did indicate this to the top six. I was indicating that this to me is not an innocent discussion because people have been talking about it.”

In recounting the events of the past two weeks, Zuma spoke out on the violence which erupted at Luthuli House last Monday when the #HandsOffZuma brigade clashed with the #DefendLuthuli brigade.

It turned out a number of the #HandsOffZuma group were people who had been lied to and told to head to the ANC’s headquarters to call for services to be delivered to them.

But you can read this as Zuma supporters taking on Ramaphosa supporters.

“This touched me very seriously because I said to myself, ‘this is a problem’. Because of this matter that is being discussed all over already, the comrades on the ground are now clashing. In fact the clip shocked me because one male comrade was kicking another on the ground. This touched me because I thought we are likely to have violence in this country of the ANC members and this will be done in our name.”

What he is telling the ANC is that people will not hesitate to take up arms for him.

He is over-estimating his position in society which is nothing like when he came in.

The likes of Blade Nzimande, Julius Malema, Zwelinzima Vavi and Kgalema Motlanthe are all indicators of this.

Still the man has set alight the kindling with the hopes that it will start a bonfire. And if South Africans – read the Zulus – do not heed his call, there is always Brics – read Vladimir Putin and his toys – and even the African Union – read dictators who are in the same Whatsapp group – who will come to his rescue.

“This country this year is chairing Brics and is also chairing SADC,” Zuma said.

“And also the people outside when they see what is happening here they have a particular perception of what is happening,” he said, confirming that he did in fact ask to remain in office for a further six months to oversee these two bodies.

“When the summit comes, the Brics, I should be in a position to introduce to you (Cyril Ramaphosa) to other leaders to say this is the comrade who is taking over from me. So also to remove the perception out there that Zuma is being elbowed out,” he said.

It’s the first we’ve heard of these perceptions but as he often reminds us, Zuma is an intelligence person so he would have the scoop.

The part about introducing Ramaphosa was both absurd and chilling.

Firstly, Mbeki did not introduce Zuma and, secondly, because it reminds me of accounts of how the Inkatha Freedom Party’s Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and former president Nelson Mandela wanted to make a show of appearing alongside each other while KZN burnt and narrowly avoided a civil war.

“So that they will work with you because some of them are my colleagues and friends,” he said.

I suspect Putin is the friend here.

He even went as far as to say that many African presidents had spoken to him after seeing Ramaphosa in Davos and they all told him not to push Zuma out before the end of his term.

And so this is the JZ conundrum which the ANC has created for itself.

If you are feeling depressed round about now, a good drinking game is watching this entire “interview” and taking a drink every time Zuma asks what he has done.

He is right about one thing though – the ANC has discussed the matter for many months and each time had opted to close ranks around him.

Staring down the barrel of an EFF sponsored motion of no confidence on Thursday – which the ANC has no choice but to support – Zuma is now on the clock with the ANC hoping that common sense will prevail and that he will cut the cord himself and resign.

In the words of a young Malema – who was once ready to kill for Zuma and will now lead a motion against him – the ANC created this mess and it is “their baby to feed Maltabella.”

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