Eerie feeling hangs over Luthuli House following Zuma’s arrest
Share this article:
Johannesburg - An eerie feeling hung over Luthuli House on Thursday as the ANC digested the arrest of its former president, Jacob Zuma, while some reflected on the realignment of political slates in the party.
The doors of the former Shell House remained half open, while the tall building stood silent. No chanting could be heard and nothing but the cars on Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Street could be seen near the building. The question on everyone’s mind: is this the calm before the storm?
The party released a statement following Zuma’s first night in prison calling for cool heads and asking members to respect his decision to hand himself over to Correctional Services to begin a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court.
Many comrades switched off their phones, trying to find words to say to reporters and those who wanted to know what next.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said it was a nerve-racking time for those who were seen as close to former president Zuma.
Those who were directly or indirectly fingered in the Zondo Commission were also among those who should be worried.
“There are other people that can still face Zuma’s fate in the ANC. This is very deep, this is about survival. This is not the time to talk about unity,” Mathekga said.
Mathekga said power dynamics in the ANC were shifting and this was a crucial time for those seeking to preserve their political lives. He said the focus would now move to planning the fight at the ANC’s elective conference next year.
“What is happening within the ANC is quite complex and unprecedented; we have never seen this. We could be facing a very tough elective conference. It doesn’t mean that if the state institutions functioned in a way that favour one faction, it means that faction will do well. The ANC is hegemonic. There is a shift in the power balance in the ANC,” he said.
Mathekga said the Top Six were not safe from the current sliding of power. Those in the Top Six could easily fall victim to factional battles or to the Zondo Commission’s investigations. It was a look-and-listen moment for the leadership of the governing party.
“A lot of things are happening in a short time and members are trying to comprehend what is happening. There are people displaced and wondering about their futures. Those implicated on a mild scale in state capture are also wondering,” Mathekga said.
On the eve of Zuma’s arrest, the president of the ANC Women’s League, Bathabile Dlamini released a statement lashing out at the Constitutional Court. Mathekga said it was not clear if she would also be disciplined since the ANC was on a “disciplinary spree”.
“Once the excitement is done, people are going to have to think deeply. Members of the NEC are quiet except for the usual supporters. It's unclear if Bathabile is breaking ranks or speaking for the Women’s League,” Mathekga said.