Next year is approaching fast and furiously.
Political clouds are raging ferociously over major political protagonists who are expected to slug it out in what promises to be a watershed post-Jacob Zuma election.
The ruling ANC is struggling to shave off Zuma’s rotten relics which remain menacingly hanging above the ruling party’s head.
The official opposition DA is battling to shake off distrust that its dominant old guard is more obsessed with protecting white interests and perhaps privileges, too.
With the old guard stamping its authority over the hapless Mmusi Maimane, the party’s black members are gradually becoming weary of being viewed as mere voting fodders expected to paint marches and rallies blue, while white-suited males occupy the majority of DA seats in the legislatures – from national to local governance.
The moment the ANC unceremoniously shipped Zuma out of office early this year became the moment the red berets of Julius Malema were stripped of their major election campaign tool – the folly of Jacob Zuma.
Even their anti-corruption posture has been heavily dented by their perceived link to the VBS shenanigans and their toenadering with scandal-ridden political crooks, such as Tom Moyane, and their misguided hostility towards anti-corruption crusaders, such as Pravin Gordhan.
The trust deficit between political parties and the voters has indeed widened as South Africa gears up to next year’s poll.
Zuma’s departure has left incumbent Cyril Ramaphosa with a task of gargantuan proportions to restore public trust in the ANC as more skeletons continue to tumble out of Zuma’s cupboard – long after he was shown the door.
If anything, years of Zuma’s mischief have left Ramaphosa in a fix.
Internally he is battling to contain a subtle pro-Zuma rebellion.
Among its ranks, this mutiny includes the following: Party secretary-general Ace Magashule and several of his political appointees who still occupy powerful government positions in the Free State and wield enormous state resources to undermine Ramaphosa’s new dawn.
Others include ousted North West strongman Supra Mahumapelo who has roped in Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) chairperson Dali Mpofu (in his capacity as a legal mind) to help him in his battles against Ramaphosa; several officials from the ANC Youth League and the Women’s League; as well as many other “wounded” former Cabinet ministers and Gupta associates – both within the party and government – whose role in state capture is unfolding now.
In the little more than 10 months he has been in power, Ramaphosa has been a busy man, trying to undo the harm inflicted on both the ANC and the public.
He is making good on his promise of tackling corruption. Moyane, the man widely credited with running down a once-fine SA Revenue Service has been sent packing.
Several Gupta acolytes such as Faith Muthambi, Des van Rooyen and Mosebenzi Zwane were the first to be shown the door as the “Luthuli House Buffalo” finally found the courage he was much short of when he used to deputise for the Nkandla prankster.
As he prepares for elections, it remains to be seen how he plans to deal with some of the loudest Zuma-era noise makers, such as Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane.
At least Malusi Gigaba is gone.
The Zondo Commission into State Capture might prove to be an albatross around Ramaphosa’s neck as more evidence shows party bigwigs enabling state capture.
More evidence of how Magashule, for instance, allowed the Guptas to capture the Free State province is expected to come to light and those in the know predict this former Free State strongman will be a dead man walking long before Judge Raymond Zondo wraps up his investigations.
As he grapples with the threat of opposition at next year’s polls, it also does not cover Ramaphosa in glory among his ANC supporters that he is failing to deal decisively with internal dissent and threat which is silently championed by Magashule and Zuma.
Magashule has proved to be unafraid to do Zuma’s dirty work.
Magashule appointees, such as Mayor Lindiwe Makhalema of Dihlabeng in Bethlehem (in the Free State) as well as Premier Sisi Ntombela are known to be among a cabal of a Women’s League faction still surreptitiously pursuing the anti-Ramaphosa campaign.
Zuma is also rumoured to be criss-crossing that province under the guise of giving lectures on free education.
Ramaphosa faces a formidable challenge.
He appears to have quelled the opposition storm in Parliament, though. He has mustered the exceptional skill of handling opposition during parliamentary questions.
The EFF appear to have been stripped of its main weapon: Zuma corruption.
Without Zuma, the EFF lacks enough ammunition to advance its cause as the land debate has also been snatched under its nose by the ANC.
Its strategy to single out Gordhan for attacks while embracing Moyane is destined to be self-defeating.
Even its post-municipal election dalliance with the DA has crumbled since Ramaphosa’s rise to power. Relations between the two parties have taken a downward spiral.
The DA’s cold-hearted treatment of Patricia de Lille, opposition to land reform and its attitude towards affirmative action has effectively undermined the DA’s black support base.
For the first time black DA supporters have begun to see it as a party of white privilege and interest.
Even Maimane appears to be a man who is wrestling with an unspoken political problem. He is clearly dealing with a deep-seated struggle which he himself feels he is losing.
Amid these contradictions, it is all going to be left to the electorate to exercise its discretion appropriately. And it is going to prove a heavy choice to make.
Mdakane is a social commentator, researcher and content creator
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