... don't expect Cyril to choose between fact and faction ...
Corruption and in-fighting still rule the ANC, and Ramaphosa doesn't know who his allies are
The outcome of the ANC elective conferences in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal has been regarded as a win for President Cyril Ramaphosa and his faction, whoever that might be at this point.
The weekend conferences led to the election of officials from both sides of the Nasrec factional divide, meaning that the two most populous provinces followed the example of the ANC’s 54th national conference.
This new trend of “zebra lists” seems to be a shift from winner-takes-all factional slates forcing people from opposing camps to work together.
Just like with the ANC leadership that was elected in December, a mixed bag does not necessarily mean the outcome will foster unity and eliminate factions. What it means is that all factions have their interests represented in the top structures of the party and will continue wrestling for influence and control.This will be most evident when the ANC begins compiling its election lists and new battles erupt over who features where on the national and provincial line-ups.
There is also no indication that Ramaphosa is consolidating power in the ANC post Nasrec, and it still remains unclear who his enforcers and main allies are.
Who defends Ramaphosa when he is under attack from opposition leaders? Who in the ANC steps up to support and defend his decisions, such as with his battle with South African Revenue Services commissioner Tom Moyane?
Who are Ramaphosa’s surrogates to do groundwork, and detect dissent and tackle mischief-makers?
While Ramaphosa was able to eventually secure the ejection of Supra Mahumapelo as premier of North West, he was not able to install an ally to replace him, mostly because it is not clear who that would be.He continues to trade on the long-overdue “Ramaphoria” in the country while the ANC has settled into a holding pattern.
The governing party is still unable to lead the national discourse. It has latched onto Ramaphosa’s “Thuma Mina” ditty while emotions continue to be churned over the land issue and the security situation progressively deteriorates.
What does work in Ramaphosa’s favour, however, is that former president Jacob Zuma’s leverage in the ANC is dissipating. Zuma’s main supporters in the ANC, such as Nomvula Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini, have taken a dive, while others like Nathi Mthethwa and Fikile Mbalula have fallen in line with the new leadership.
While some of Zuma’s allies continue working on his comeback campaign, they do not want to be seen with him, certainly not at his court appearances.
His visible support comes from a rag-tag army of disgraced leaders, who are hoping Zuma’s fightback campaign will succeed so that they might return to gainful employment.But there is a growing realisation among those who remain in ANC structures that carrying a torch for Zuma serves no purpose.
In KwaZulu-Natal, certainly, it was instructive that Zuma did not show up at the provincial conference at the weekend. While he was still able to wield his influence behind the scenes before the stalled KwaZulu-Natal conference in June, he was unable to secure the election of one of his chief mobilisers, Super Zuma, as provincial secretary.The uncontested election of Sihle Zikalala as the provincial chair was due to the fact that nobody was strong enough to take him on and win. Zikalala’s fierce loyalty to Zuma works in the ANC’s favour in that he is able to marshal the former president’s supporters to remain within the party fold.While his new deputy, Mike Mabuyakhulu, who currently faces corruption charges, was from an opposite camp, he is not necessarily Ramaphosa’s guy. Neither is the new provincial secretary, Mdumiseni Ntuli.
So while the new KwaZulu-Natal leadership has the potential to stabilise the ANC ahead of next year’s elections, Ramaphosa still does not yet have a proper foothold in the province. This means it could again swing against him down the line.
In Gauteng, the election of Panyaza Lesufi and Parks Tau served to strengthen the ANC, and the Ramaphosa camp in particular. But the possible goodwill around the election of two capable and credible leaders as officials was immediately undone when it emerged that disgraced members Qedani Mahlangu and Brian Hlongwa were on the new provincial executive committee.The big question is whether the new leadership in the two provinces will be able to ensure that the ANC keeps control of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng next year.
The ANC has not yet been able to restore trust and credibility, and the fact that it retains people with clouds over their heads in leadership structures means that its members do not fully appreciate the extent of the reputational damage.
The ANC is still balancing interests and factions, and the propensity for corruption remains the ever-present danger. It still has to come up with a good enough reason for people to vote ANC and not live to regret it.