ANC president Jacob Zuma and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema at the height of their associaiton in 2009. File picture: Matthews Baloyi
ANC president Jacob Zuma and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema at the height of their associaiton in 2009. File picture: Matthews Baloyi

Where has the love gone?

By Noni Mokati Time of article published Feb 15, 2021

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Johannesburg - Despite mounting speculation around the formation of a new leftist party or political alliance, the ANC, SACP and Cosatu have laughed off threats to destabilise the Tripartite Alliance or the ruling party.

Since the advent of democracy in 1994, the marriage between the three, which has its roots in the struggle for liberation, has often hit the rocks over policy direction, leadership tussles, corruption, lack of good governance and the neglect of the working class.

But the ANC insists that the alliance is intact and its relationship with its alliance partners remains stronger than ever.

The recent meeting between former president Jacob Zuma and EFF leader Julius Malema in Nkandla, some have argued, has sought to undermine the alliance, causing further ructions and opening the possibility of a new leftist political party or alliance entering the South African political scene.

As pressure mounts on Zuma to account for a slew of corruption allegations levelled against him and close allies like ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, many within the alliance believe that the former president’s latest actions are aimed at influencing the outcomes of the ruling Party’s upcoming National General Council (NGC) and to possibly extract some form of political settlement or pardon which will remove the cloud hanging over his head.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has, however, poured cold water over speculation that Zuma might launch a new party in opposition to ANC and its alliance partners.

“We have regular meetings of the secretariat. That never used to happen in the past.

“There were years in the ANC where the alliance didn’t even meet but it’s not like that any longer. So, you have a very robust alliance secretariat at a national level and in the provinces as well,” said Duarte last week.

She said the meetings of the alliance comprise all the general secretaries of the alliance, and over the past couple of months, the movement had seen a much more integrated approach when it came to tackling matters of national importance.

The SACP and Cosatu believe no amount of tea parties can usurp the alliance.

“What (former) president Zuma and Malema do is their own business,” said SACP first deputy secretary Solly Mapaila.

“We are not worried about that. The issue is that for as long as it (the meeting) is not meant to bring about chaos and disrupt the supremacy of our Constitution and the rule of democratic law, then we have no problem.

“They can have as many meetings. But to the extent that their engagement seeks to penetrate the unity of the ANC and therefore of the alliance, then we will certainly be concerned about it.”

Regarding speculation on the emergence of a new leftist party, he added: “Our movement, as you know, is broadly characterised as the movement of the Left.

“The conception of the movement of the Left derives from a fixed economic policy which seeks to embrace the well-being of the masses and shuns the notions that the market resolves everything in society.

“We are fully embedded in the movement of the Left. The ANC also characterises itself as the disciplined force of the Left. Therefore, there is no threat in this regard.”

He further highlighted that the SACP had not seen the leftist party referred to by the media, adding that over the past few years, a few leftist organisations had been formed and contested elections but that had not troubled the movement.

Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi, meanwhile, is adamant that Cosatu is “not concerned by people having tea”.

“This is a democracy, people can have tea with whomever they want if they have nothing to do. At least the local tea industry can benefit and jobs will be created.”

She further maintained that there was no need to magnify the meeting between Zuma and Malema.

“Malema is a leader of an opposition party and Zuma is a former leader. While we acknowledge that Zuma still has support in the ANC, that support is overestimated sometimes, and we are not interested in the activities of former ANC leaders.

“The ANC needs to focus on leading the country during a time of crisis and delivering the services and an economic solution, and not on the activities of its former leaders.

“We are a constitutional democracy, and we have confidence that the judicial system has the ability to handle the Zuma issue without any political interference.”

Despite the united front proffered by the ANC and its alliance partners, the threat posed by Zuma is being taken seriously in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Commenting last week on the possibility of Zuma facing arrest for his refusal to appear before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, the party’s KZN provincial secretary, Mdumiseni Ntuli, said the ANC should be ready for some backlash and there were people within the ANC and outside who sympathised with Zuma.

Some of those who sympathised with him, Ntuli said, had come out into the open while others were doing it quietly.

“If he gets arrested, it’s perfectly clear that society will be divided into two groups.

“There will be those who believe his arrest is a travesty of justice; others would be convinced that he deserves to be arrested because he violated the decision of the highest court in the land.

“That may not be an issue for him because… he has been in prison for 10 years and this may be an arrest that is less than that.

“But the implications to the unity and the cohesion of the ANC are going to be profound,” Ntuli said.

In his State of the Nation Address on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa indicated the revelations that had emanated from the Zondo commission had laid bare the extent of state capture and corruption.

“Testimony at the commission has shown how the criminal justice system was compromised and weakened,” said the President.

“It is, therefore, vital that we sustain the momentum of the rebuilding effort that we began three years ago.”

Ramaphosa’s stand on corruption is yet another indication that the ruling party, under his leadership, will not offer Zuma preferential treatment.

Against this background, it remains to be seen who will blink first.

* This article was firs published in Insider, Independent Media’s new weekend supplement.

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