🔒 Hartford: Emergence of Zuma’s MK sparks political turmoil in SA

The political landscape in South Africa has been rocked by the sudden emergence of Zuma’s MK party, shaking the foundations of the country’s 30-year democratic experiment. Against the backdrop of Karl Marx’s prophetic words, the ANC faces a massive internal split, with Zuma’s faction challenging Ramaphosa’s leadership. As the country braces for elections, the binaries of capitalism versus socialism, constitutionalism versus traditionalism, and good versus bad come to the fore. With Zuma’s charismatic appeal and narrative of victimhood gaining traction, the ANC’s alliance with SACP, Cosatu and Sanco hangs in the balance. The stage is set for a high-stakes political showdown with far-reaching consequences.

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By Dirk Hartford

The political party that is going to make or break SA’s national election on May 29 has only visibly been in existence for three months. But already Zuma’s MK party is sending shockwaves through the political firmament, upending relations so far established in a 30 year democratic experiment. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

As Karl Marx said, in times like these, “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

MK is not a COPE or PA or EFF or ATM breakaway from the ANC. All these parties, including rats and mice like Carl Niehaus, Mzwaneli Manyi and Ace Magashule, were once ANC.

MK is the real deal – a massive split of the ANC happening in front of our eyes and whose reverberations are only beginning to be felt. In time, we should expect these divisions to crack the ANC’s alliance with the SACP, Cosatu and Sanco. 

There are those who have—fairly—warned of the dangers of splitting the ANC, saying it could open up gateways to something unforeseen and much less desirable. We are about to see whether those warnings were warranted. 

The binaries currently underpinning the narratives unleashed by MK are Ramaphosa vs. Zuma, capitalism vis socialism, good vs. bad, white vs. black, and constitutionalism vs. traditionalism. 

It matters little who owns what trademark, or what law forbids Zuma and MK’s participation in the elections when the forces pitched against each other through the “split” in the ANC are this formidable.

Zuma is SA’s Donald Trump. They sing off the same hymn sheet. MK is already threatening what it will do if and when the elections are rigged. Zuma wants a two thirds majority with his allies after the election. Fasten your seat-belts.

Zuma’s MK party is making all the running at the moment. Nothing seems to go wrong for it – every obstacle it encounters becomes grist to the anti-Ramaphosa’s ANC mill.

MK is clearly well-financed. MK and Zuma’s contacts on the ground, combined with its marketing and social media presence, is widespread, expanding and apparently well-organised.

Evidently Ramaphosa and Zuma recently polled more or less equal as the most popular politicians in the country at the moment. Malema can only look on for now, despite the EFF’s huge and hitherto seemingly successful election campaign.

The “Zuma” phenomenon and the way it is manifesting through MK is the “spirit” affecting these elections. It is the voice of the RET faction inside the ANC since the dawn of democracy which had power under Zuma and which led to State Capture. 

Mbeki, who was joined at the hip with Zuma while they were in exile (the intellectual and the peasant were great foils for each other), says: “I think there were certain people in the country who deliberately set out to destroy this democratic state and therefore it was not everybody that celebrated in 1994. To some of our fellow citizens 1994 represented a defeat, and they did not accept that it was going to be a defeat, and so, it was a temporary defeat for them, and they knew that in time, ‘We will win.’

And then, 

“And, of course, we know who the president was; it says so in black and white that Jacob Zuma was part of it. That’s a bit of a conundrum that you would have the president of South Africa participating in a process to destroy the institution that gives it the means to govern. That’s a contradiction that raises a question.” 

These contradictions and questions, once the preserve of the ANC, we now face openly as a country with MK’s arrival. One can feel sympathy for Ramaphosa when one knows what he is truly up against. 

Zuma, the only non-professional ever in the leadership of the ANC, is a master of political intrigue and parallel structures.

In exile, before and during his State Capture years as President, and now, the leitmotif running through all his incarnations has been his parallel “grip” on intelligence and the military. This remains the case.

In the State Capture years this “grip” extended into the civil service and state owned enterprises and right up into cabinet. And this is also still fundamentally the case now. 

In addition to the RET layer, Zuma has many powerful friends in high places worldwide, including and especially Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Zuma had been dealing and working with the KGB even before Putin came to power. 

Andre Pienaar, co-founder of the Scorpios, lifted the lid on these deep and enduring relations in a recent interview with BizNews (click here). 

When Zuma hit the hustings, he did not speak to any manifesto or script like other politicians. He does not even have an elected organisational structure behind him, nor any familiar politicians doing the campaigning bar Magashule.

But MK does appear to be well organised and many of the people charged with inciting the 2021 KZN/Gauteng uprising are MK people.

Zuma weaves his personal story of being an innocent victim of Ramaphosa’s ANC into the generalised dissatisfaction of the RET types and the masses in general.

He speaks of the time before the whites came and tells a story of black suffering and struggle from then till now. 

He talks about what the effects of colonialism have been on the African psyche with stories about alcoholism, drugs and teenage pregnancy.

He affirms his belief in God, saying his politics itself is a spiritual calling in the numerous church congregations he addressed nationwide.

He reiterates his distrust of the constitutional mindset and laws while extolling traditional African values and justice.

He blames these things, which Ramaphosa’s ANC is now the guardians of, for his and the people’s misfortune.

He feels victimised by Ramaphosa, who, the narrative goes, only defeated him in the ANC for President by bribing DD Mabuza with a billion rand from white monopoly capital to cross over to Ramaphosa’s slate

Zuma’s trademark singing and dancing, his genial man of the people style, and his shameless Trump-like fake news-driven fight-back style seem to be galvanising significant support, especially in KZN but also elsewhere.

If Ramaphosa’s ANC are indeed the guardians of the constitution and the rule of law then MK and the EFF are hardly the people to form an alliance with post the election. 

Only the opposition parties in and outside the DA’s MPC can provide the bulwark needed for Ramaphosa’s ANC to survive the onslaught against it and constitutionalism unleashed by Zuma’s MK.

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