🔒 How world sees SA: Can Cyril exorcise the Zuptoids?

LONDON — Opinionistas are having a field day before the May elections as each tries to give a picture of what South Africa will look like in the period thereafter. What many focus on is the influence of the Zuma-Magashule faction in the ANC, who have become very vocal in the period before the elections as they try to hold on to their positions. The faction became more desperate with the release of the Gangster State book on their leader, ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule, resorting to the burning of books and intimidating journalists, while another faction, the Ramaphosa-supporters tried to douse the flames and assure voters that they can still rely on the ANC. Opposition parties like to highlight this dichotomy in an effort to lure support away from the ANC, telling voters that a vote for the ANC is also a vote for its corrupt faction. In an article in the Financial Times, William Gumede, the chair of Democracy Works says the ANC is “being run like two parties” and he believes that if Ramaphosa gets a big mandate it is over for the corrupt elements in the ANC. – Linda van Tilburg

By Thulasizwe Sithole

As South Africa gears up for the election on 8 May it will celebrate 25 years of democracy. For President Cyril Ramaphosa the problem does not sit in other parties opposing him, but “within his own African National  Congress” where the Zuma-Magashule faction is working against him. The book Gangster State has exposed the activities of the ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule as the man who “looted and entire Provence”. Described as a “Mr Ten Per Cent” kingpin, Magashule has dismissed the allegations as fake news and tried to portray the book as an attack on the entire ANC.

This disruption of the launch of Gangster State and a threat to burn scores of the books and the subsequent rebuke from Ramaphosa who said that respect should be earned “through the strength of their argument…not through their capacity to intimidate or any form of thuggery” revealed the rift in the party. The burning of the books was only called off after pressure from the ANC. The chairperson of Democracy Works, William Gumede remarked that “the ANC is almost being run like two parties”, which is unprecedented and “extraordinary.”

The Financial Times quotes analysts who believe that the ANC is likely to retain “a majority of more than 55%” in May which would be lower than previous elections, but it would mean that the slide in the Zuma years would have been halted. Opposition parties, including the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema believes Ramaphosa would not be able to remove the Magashule faction within the ANC, saying “his old comrades were organising at the ANC’s grassroots level” to replace Ramaphosa.

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Read also: The ANC has never enjoyed the overwhelming “support of the people” – Jeffery

The ANC Parliamentary lists contain many Zuma loyalists, accused of “perjury, corruption and other wrongdoing”, who will be elected if the ANC manages to get the majority of votes. Ramaphosa has acknowledged that the list has a negative impact on the image of the ANC, but that he is not capable of overturning ANC decisions. The results of the party leadership election in December 2017 forced him to “share power with Zuma acolytes.”

Ramaphosa supporters hope that the wheels of justice will turn quicker to force corrupt elements out of the party, but it has happened a lot slower than many expected as it is taking the President long to renew “prosecutorial bodies under Zuma.” Gumede believes that Ramaphosa can’t “fight politically in the party”… but points to the “legal machinery that the president, a lawyer by training has put in place to rebuild the ability to prosecute state corruption.”

The Zuma faction see the election as a “last realistic chance of halting Mr Ramaphosa’s anti-corruption drive.” Should Ramaphosa get a mandate of over 55%, he will have the authority to act against the corrupt faction, “there is no way they can do anything. He will have all the power.” It will depend how voters view the ANC and whether they think the ANC can get rid of “a culture of rot.” Voters in KwaZulu-Natal that the FT spoke to said, “this is not the ANC we fought for”, while another described the ANC where the Magashule faction still has power as “a mafia.” This is why Malema’s EFF is making inroads in Zuma’s KZN power base.