It is more than a little rich that the limping ANC presidential campaign of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (NDZ) is being aided and abetted by a vile smear campaign directed at her chief rival Cyril Ramaphosa, who comfortably leads her according to some polls.
The CR17 campaign does not need to become bogged down in expending energy on countering the tired old tricks that have the commentators abuzz with excitement at having something new to dissect in the most minute detail. Rather keep the eye on the ball.
The trouble is that identifying the ball is a tricky exercise in the current sorry state of affairs within the ANC and to a lesser extent the country. The polls are irrelevant at the December ANC conference; what does count is the voting of the branches and structures. Many of those cadres, who formerly supported the Jacob Zuma candidacy, not only at Polokwane in 2007 but also in Mangaung in 2012, have lived to regret having given their support to him.
Loud and long lamentation by the SACP, Cosatu, Julius Malema and Zwelinzima Vavi all bear witness to this admission of error. Presumably those still within the ANC tent will have learned from their mistaken votes which gave birth to and succoured the Zuptoids. Hopefully they will cast them more wisely come December.
The widespread calls for renewal and integrity in the ANC are all very well and good. But how to achieve these worthy aims is a problem if the voting in December is as ill-advised as it surely was when the Polokwane and Mangaung disasters (Vavi’s description) took place.
CR17 is well advised to stick to the issues and ignore the smears. The amount of energy required to win has to be expended in the branches and the structures, not in the media and the courts putting out the smallanyana short-lived fires that the smears ignite.
It is not as though NDZ has led a blameless and pure life herself. The Sarafina II corruption debacle was her responsibility. She was in the Cabinet when the arms deals were perpetrated upon the unsuspecting public of SA. Her time in foreign affairs, as it was then called, was particularly undistinguished, as was the tour of duty in Addis Ababa as head of the African Union, a job she gave up at half time to heed the call of her former spouse, who is the father of her four children.
Perhaps the biggest question mark over the NDZ candidacy is that it is supported by the Zuptoid faction of state capturing brigands who have emerged as a direct result of the lawless excesses of her ex-husband. He has not chosen his friends wisely. He has no appreciation of the requirements of constitutionalism and he has led the country rapidly downhill to grand corruption, state capture, joblessness, poverty and to the brink of failure as a modern state.
All of these flaws in the Zuma make-up are surely going to be perpetuated during an NDZ presidency in which she will, in effect, become the surrogate mugger of the Zuptoid controlled and long suffering nation. The opportunity of effecting renewal and securing integrity in the ANC and in government (should it win the elections in 2019) will surely be lost if NDZ wins in December at the ANC electoral conference.
Perhaps revealing his leftward leaning, Professor Richard Calland of the University of Cape Town in his appropriately titled 2016 book Make or Break, observes that:
“Under Zuma, it just became easier to plunder. Almost by definition the right-wing nationalists are unconcerned by this because they are part of the rot. There is no crisis of conscience about the harm that has been done – to the ANC, to the government and to the country.
“On the left, however, there is a wailing and gnashing of teeth. There is angst and fretfulness, and, yes, at least in some quarters, a crisis of conscience. Some feel guilty that they were accomplices to this project of ‘state capture’ and the deepening of a culture of impunity and corruption in and around the ANC’s control of governmental power. Others grit their teeth and close their eyes and construct in their mind’s eye a narrative that justifies not only their original support for Zuma, but their continued presence in his Cabinet.”
“South Africans should not turn their backs on politics. They must engage and get involved. The choice is simple: be a bystander and, thereby, an accomplice to the downward spiral or, rather, be a protagonist, a contestant, one of those who rolled up their sleeves and stood in the path of history. That is the choice for individual South Africans and for the country.”
Those reported by Calland to be “wailing and gnashing their teeth” can’t say they were not warned. In the 2007 biography of Thabo Mbeki, The Dream Deferred, Mark Gevisser writes, well before the first occasion on which Zuma was elected president:
“[Mbeki] was deeply distressed by the possibility of being succeeded by Zuma … he believed his deputy’s play for the presidency to be part of a strategy to avoid prosecution … Mbeki allegedly worried that Zuma and his backers had no respect for the rule of law, and would be unaccountable to the constitutional dispensation … There was also the worry of a resurgence of ethnic politics, and – given his support from the left – that Zuma’s leftist advisers would undo all the meticulous stitching of South Africa into the global economy that Mbeki and his economic managers had undertaken over 15 years … [T]he possibility of a Zuma presidency was a scenario far worse than a dream deferred. It would be, in effect, a dream shattered, irrevocably, as South Africa turned into yet another post-colonial kleptocracy; another ‘footprint of despair’ in the path of destruction away from the promises of uhuru.”
The success of the NDZ campaign to lead the ANC will ensure that the destructive tendencies of the Zuma years are simply continued and perhaps intensified. All hope of renewal and integrity will be lost and the downward spiral towards failure as a state will continue.
The correct response of CR17 to the dirt being dished to shore up the flagging fortunes of the Zuptoids, including, perhaps even especially, NDZ is to keep the eye on the renewal and integrity ball. This strategy will focus attention on the real issues, rather than on the private affairs of the candidate.
The mere fact that NDZ has an endorsement from her ex-husband, who has many jail-fearing ulterior motives to support her candidacy, ought to have ANC cadres scattering in panic. The fact that it does not have this effect is an indication of how deeply corrupted the organisation has become during the Zuma years.
Renewal of the ANC obviously involves a resounding rejection of the Zuptoids and their candidate NDZ. Restoring integrity is a little more tricky; given the size of the patronage networks involved, the power of the premier league of corrupt rural provinces and the Gupta factor. There is also the question of the capture of media such as Independent Newspapers, TNA and ANN7 by those partial to the projects of the Zuptoids. It can be no coincidence that the (probably illegally) leaked Ramaphosa emails found their way to the Sunday Independent.
CR17 needs to take a firm position on integrity in governance to counter the essentially irrelevant, and partially admitted, allegations of his lack of integrity in the bedroom. Mouthing platitudes and excuses won’t do. Public anger at the looting and stealing of public funds needs to be harnessed by CR17.
The most obvious way to do this is to seek a best practice solution to the issues of rampant corruption in the land. The idea of establishing an Integrity Commission, the Eagles, as the appropriate successor to the Scorpions, so precipitously disbanded by the Zuptoids, is one which CR17 ought to embrace and make a central feature of its campaign. An urgent resolution of conference reversing the damage done by the Polokwane resolution to dissolve the Scorpions is required: may the Eagles rise from the ashes of the Scorpions. Without Eagles we are all doomed to an increasingly corrupt future, whether NDZ or CR17 or indeed anyone else who does not embrace the Eagles is able to succeed both in December 2017 at the ANC electoral conference and in the general elections to come by 2019. Opposition parties should take note. DM
Paul Hoffman SC is a director of Accountability Now and the author of Confronting the Corrupt.