Zuma's scheming the sign of a trapped, desperate man
With the possibility of jail looming, the former president might have revolt and rebellion on his mind
What is Jacob Zuma up to?
Everything he has done since his rambling, mad and dangerous interview with the SA Broadcasting Corporation on the afternoon of February 14 points to a man who is either brewing a revolt within the ANC, planning a breakaway party or trying to instigate violence in the land.
For a man who has always portrayed himself as a servant of the ANC, Zuma seems to be preparing to destroy the very organisation he professes to love.
Worse, he seems to be prepared to push the country he once led back into the violence of the late 1980s and early 1990s in KwaZulu-Natal.
On Friday, surrounded by supporters after his court appearance on corruption charges in Durban, Zuma broke into song and led the crowd in a rendition of Sengimanxebanxeba (I am full of wounds), a famous Zulu song which the City Press has described as being associated with regiments and which talks of betrayal by one’s own comrades.Zuma told the adoring crowd that he would defend himself. “He said several times, to loud cheers, that it was a pity that beating up people was no longer allowed otherwise he would have resorted to that,” said the City Press.
These are the words of the former president of the Republic of South Africa. What do they mean? Of course we will be told that this is a figure of speech, that he didn’t imply any violence. But Zuma knows that those are potent words in KZN, a place where political killings are back with a vengeance.
Casting a pall
So what exactly is the man’s game?
First, he is trying to shore up support within the ANC and discredit his new party leader, Cyril Ramaphosa. Over the past three months Zuma has been behaving a bit like a stalker, appearing wherever Ramaphosa appears and trying to outdo him or cast a pall over events by his mere presence.
On Friday, straight after his court appearance in Durban, he hopped on a plane and hot-footed it to Tzaneen in Limpopo to hover over Ramaphosa’s visit to Queen Modjadji. What was he doing there?A few weeks ago he arrived at the ANC national executive committee meeting. Weeks before he pitched up at an ANC election planning meeting. At Easter he arrived at a church where Ramaphosa had visited just a few days earlier, saying it was all coincidence. In early February he rushed off to meet the Zulu king just a few days after a Ramaphosa visit.
All these appearances are to insinuate himself within the ANC and help unseat Ramaphosa through a mini internal revolt.
Rumour is rife within the party that the KZN ANC is pushing for an early national general council – usually a half-term assessment meeting – at which a motion of no confidence would be passed against Ramaphosa.
Zuma knows that stratagem might fail. So there’s a Plan B. Look at those who surrounded him on Friday. They are all associates of the notorious Gupta family. There was Hlaudi Motsoeneng in all his glory. There was Faith Muthambi, Des van Rooyen and Andile Mngxitama. One needed only Ace Magashule and Supra Mahumapelo to complete the dirty pack. Those “leaders” form the core of what may be a future breakaway party that will be populated with some ANC KwaZulu-Natal leaders.Already the ANC Youth League in KZN and some of the party’s regional leaders – particularly in eThekwini – are murmuring about being an independent formation. These are the first flutters of that breakaway.
Zuma’s final hand would be to threaten or to foment violence. We know that the man is no constitutionalist. We know that he has over the past 10 years gone out of his way to keep a hard grip on the security establishment. Fearing that he may go to jail, he may try to encourage some sort of rebellion against the centre.
He won’t succeed, though. If he tries to unseat Ramaphosa, he will find that his support within the ANC has waned and he would lose. If he tries to break away from the ANC, he will learn, as he has advised others, that it is cold outside the ANC. If he continues to try and foment violence the might of the law must and will come down hard on him.
He is trapped, desperate and about to go to jail. He is a desperate man who is lashing out at everything around him.