Editorial: Taking out the biggest hurdle on the path of an ANC victory in 2019
The ruling African National Congress, ANC, the party of Nelson Mandela, has been good to incumbent President Jacob Zuma. Now, it needs him to return the favour!
For several decades, Zuma’s identity has been intertwined with that of the ANC. Barely educated, the ANC has given him everything, including his long-standing position on the National Executive Committee of the party, his rising to the topmost ladder in the national leadership of the party since 2007 and the Presidency of the new South Africa since 2009.
However, on the heels of the fiercely contested elective Conference leadership vote that was concluded in Johannesburg on Monday and where the president’s favoured candidate, his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma lost to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, it is clear that something has indeed given, with even more being required to give.
In a nutshell, the issue at stake presently has to do with who would be the face of the party at this critical time in its history. And determining this has to do also with a proper examination of the core challenges that have to be addressed.
Indeed, given the high-level support that Zuma had invested in Nkosazana’s campaign, there is no escaping the fact that a number of the people who rejected her candidacy were in real terms, voting against Zuma. In the forthcoming nationwide contest, this rejection syndrome would now be targeted even more ferociously at the entirety of the ANC should something not be done now.
Going forward, the acrimony of the past few weeks also has to heal and the party now has to commence the tough job of preparing for the forthcoming General Elections in 2019. But even that is going to be a really tough call without some urgent, surgical activity, particularly given the inroads that rivals like the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters have since made into ANC strongholds.
In the last municipal polls for example, the ANC’s political and electoral strength dimmed to just about 60 percent and this has even worsened on account of the avalanche of troubles that have plagued the embattled President Jacob Zuma.
On the broader pan-African front, there is also the crisis of getting the ANC and South Africa to re-connect with its historic role as one of the leading drivers of accelerated growth and development in South Africa first, and then all across the continent. This is one of the reasons why all of Africa invested so much in the South African emancipation project that the ANC has come to be the prime beneficiary of in the past 23 years. But the struggle was not about raising one or more fat-cats from within the ranks of the 105-year old movement. It was, and still is about building and developing a South Africa that lifts all of its people and goes on to help other Africans to also be lifted.
The way out as we can see it now at the minimum is for the ANC to fully rally around Ramaphosa as a renascent, if not brand new offering of sorts. And that would require Mr Zuma stepping out of office as soon as is possible so that his very large bag of scandals and lawsuits would not get into the party’s way any longer!
The Conference is over. Can Zuma now take a bow and exit the stage?
Protesters in one of the many demonstrations that have beleaguered President Jacob Zuma of South Africa
Pix credit: AFP