'Why do white people like Cyril so much?'
This question, by an ANC member, goes to the heart of the new Zuma movement as it tries to win back its kleptocracy
News that a shiny, straight-out-of-the box political formation built around Jacob Zuma is on the cards is actually old hat. Those of us who have watched Zuma's actions over the past few years and months have always known that, as the light of his kleptocratic state dimmed, he would forge a new populist path to defend himself and his cronies from going to jail. The script is unfolding like clockwork.
Last week, Zuma supporters gathered at the symbol of the man's grand and comedic corruption – the grotesque Nkandla and its famed fire pool – to “welcome him back” to KwaZulu-Natal. It was nothing of the sort. They were launching part of their fight-back campaign, as I pointed out here months ago.
What is really of interest now is this: What is their thinking? What holds them together? What are their motives?
In KwaZulu-Natal last week a member of the ANC national executive committee turned around to me and said: “You have to ask yourself, why do white people like Cyril Ramaphosa so much?”At the heart of the new Zuma political movement is this question and their answer to it: that Ramaphosa is a sellout, that he is a stooge of so-called white monopoly capital, that his fight against corruption (at least for now) is really a fight against black advancement.
This is the sort of conspiratorial and nonsensical thinking that was invented and disseminated by the defunct British disinformation machinery of Bell Pottinger as paid for by the Gupta family and Zuma's son Duduzane. On Twitter, sitting on his cash pile in Dubai, these are messages that are still disseminated by the president's son as part of his escape from facing the law in South Africa.
This grouping gained some faux intellectual input from the likes of the discredited, violent and fascist Andile Mngxitama and his Gupta-sponsored Black First Land First cohort of about 20 strident individuals. When Zuma was fired by the ANC in February, it was the BLF that rushed to loudly proclaim its support for him. They swiftly followed up with a forum where Zuma, who in his tenure as president of the republic oversaw the relentless reversal of the land reform and restitution programme of the ANC, held forth about land restitution.
What they are doing is plain: They appropriate legitimate black struggles (from land hunger to transformation to restitution to justice) and use them for their own selfish and criminal ends.
So, then, what we are seeing is a criminal gang disguising itself as a political formation. Think of what ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, a key player within this faction, said on January 28 in KwaZulu-Natal to supporters: “Stay focused, it is just a matter of five years ... Mayibuya i-ANC esiyaziyo (until the ANC that we know returns). It’s a matter of five years comrades. So let’s work hard.”He was saying he wants a return to the ANC of the Guptas, the ANC of the rigged tenders in North West, the ANC of building palaces for leaders, the ANC of Des van Rooyen and Faith Muthambi and Mosebenzi Zwane, the ANC of unemployment and corruption and poor economic growth. Incredible.
How would this political formation do electorally? Two organisations were born out of the ANC in the past 10 years. COPE attracted 7% of the vote in 2009 and proceeded to sink due to infighting. The EFF got 6.3% in 2014 but has not succumbed to major bloodletting among its leaders. Polls show a bigger haul for the EFF in 2019.
The new Zuma crowd faces a problem that the pre-Nasrec ANC faced. You can try to dress up your selfish interests as much as you like, but the truth will out. Zuma's party – or one associated with him – will fail dismally. His only chance at a showing of some sort would be to harness the Zulu king into some sort of alliance around the Ingonyama Trust issue. But that would paint him into a corner: He would basically be a tribal leader of the nature of the bantustans, a Mangosuthu Buthelezi with an extremely poor cause.
The new Zuma party will huff and puff for a short while, and will die soon enough. As it should.