🔒 Dirk Hartford: Zuma’s political revolt – long battle for ANC’s soul finally in the open

In a dramatic turn of events on the symbolic day of South Africa’s Reconciliation Day, former President Jacob Zuma, aged 81, declared open warfare against his successor Cyril Ramaphosa. With the founding of the MK party, named after the original armed wing of the ANC, Zuma aims to contest the upcoming elections. This move exposes the deep-seated divisions within the ANC, pitting Ramaphosa’s faction against the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) advocates. Zuma’s strategy involves unleashing the RET faction to damage Ramaphosa’s standing within the ANC and the electorate while seeking to form a “Patriotic Front” for a potential coalition government post-election. The battle lines are drawn, and the future of the ANC hangs in the balance.

By Dirk Hartford

Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionizing themselves and things, in creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis, they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language. – Karl Marx

On a day packed with the symbolism of war and peace in South Africa, doddering 81-year-old ex-President Jacob Zuma declared war on his “sell-out, apartheid collaborator, a proxy of white monopoly capital” successor Cyril Ramaphosa by declaring his leadership of the newly formed MK party to contest next year’s elections.


December 16th is both the anniversary of the founding in 1961 of the original armed wing of the ANC Umkhonto We Sizwe and its Reconciliation Day, a public holiday since 1995 for commemorating the ending of apartheid and peace.

In a statement littered with spurious references to the ANC’s glorious past and Zuma’s role in it (pray tell us who really poisoned Thami Zulu in exile comrade Jacob?), he said there was a “plot to kill the ANC” and that “drastic action was required” to rescue it.

“We need to rescue our organisation from this un-ANC behaviour,” he said while declaring that he was “ready to die if need be” to rescue the ANC from the “foreign behaviour” of its “infiltrated and failed leadership”.

He invoked the name of his erstwhile nemesis, ex-President Thabo Mbeki, to declare that “it would be a betrayal to campaign for the ANC of Ramaphosa”.

The struggle for the heart and soul of the ANC has been going on since the Mandela days and this move of Zuma’s has finally taken it out into the open. His essential challenge is – will the real ANC please stand up?

It is a division between the sell-out “blatant white monopoly capturers of the ANC” Ramaphosa’ites and the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction who want “total liberation and the return of the land to its rightful owners”.

In his trademark paranoid and conspiratorial style, he referred to the “toxic atmosphere caused by our captured media, judiciary and the other arms of the state” to justify the need to conduct the discussions to form the MK party “underground”. 

When the enemy is defined as the “captured media and judiciary” you get an idea of what this battle will be about. For many democrats and constitutionalists in SA, the media and the judiciary are currently the last things standing between some constitutional order and the rule of law or some kind of anarchic chaos.

Add to that “the battle for land, justice and radical transformation towards economic freedom” where “there can never be reconciliation without socio-economic justice and equality”, and the stage is set for the fight back. 

By brazenly appropriating the very name and symbol of Umkhonto We Sizwe for his new political party and invoking its founding statement (“The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices: submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means within our power in defence of our future and our freedom.”) as its battle cry, Zuma has indeed declared war on Ramaphosa and his allies.

What is the plan? In the first instance to set the RET dogs of war loose in the already haemorrhaging ANC to cause as much damage as they can to the Ramaphosa’ites in the run-up to the election.

Secondly, Zuma and his soon-to-be-announced interim leadership of the MK party to do the same among the electorate.

Thirdly, to simultaneously seek to create a “Patriotic Front” among all those hostile to the Ramaphosa leadership on the “left” – including the likes of the resurgent EFF, the UDM and the PAC – to form a coalition government post next year’s election.

Lastly, to develop a 10-point programme for the Patriotic Front “to steer the ship of total liberation from colonialism back on course by uniting Africans across the country, the African continent and the African diaspora behind the battle”.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen of the SA electorate who have been hoping for the fall of the ANC. 

The ANC is bound to fall quicker, and further than one could previously have imagined under the impetus of Zuma’s MK party. 

Especially in the ANC’s most significant region, which is Zuma’s heartland and stronghold, the Zulu kingdom and province of KZN, where Zuma has long ago demonstrated that he is the strongman among strong men.

As the comrades always said – you ANC nothing yet.

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