The useful idiot Manyi is right, the ANC is limping into oblivion
Broken by the Zuma years, the party looks beyond rescue and will continue to fracture - even if it wins the elections
Whenever I feel like depressing myself with a bit of mindless twaddle I google the name Mzwanele Manyi. Without fail the man who once shocked the nation by saying there is an “over-supply of coloureds” in the Western Cape and who, two years ago, became an instant “media mogul” as part of the Gupta money-laundering scheme, will have said something moronic in the week past. He is the political idiot that keeps giving.
Manyi, on his speedy journey towards political oblivion, has stopped several times this year to tell us that he has started yet another nonsensical political party. The aptly named ATM party – for there is nothing that our Manyi enjoys more than a bit of patronage from the Guptas – is his second political home in as many months.
Fancy a bet? He will not succeed. He is no political operative. He doesn’t have the smarts. He is just a desperate, confused lackey of the Guptas trying to find a new way to make a few bob. He is a useful idiot who lends the Gupta family his faux Black Consciousness credentials so they can evade the law and deflect accountability.
Anyway, I was punishing myself with some Manyi twaddle last week when the man said something that is perhaps worth paying two cents for. Asked why he left the ANC, Manyi declared that “the ANC has done all it could do and is now very tired and fatigued”.
He is sadly right. The ANC is exhausted – and it now has a seemingly unsolvable conundrum and contradiction at its very core. The reformist “Thuma Mina” brigade sits cheek by jowl with the corrupt Zupta gang in the party with no separation or divorce in sight. Such a toxic embrace can only lead to death.
Nothing illustrates this more than the events of the past week as the party once again went into overdrive to celebrate its 107th birthday.
There was Jacob Zuma, sitting on stage alongside National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete, ANC KZN chairperson Sihle Zikalala and ANC eThekwini chairperson Zandile Gumede, as party president Cyril Ramaphosa spoke at the Ohlange Institute outside Durban. It is just amazing, really. Here is a man who has made the ANC the laughing stock of the world, who has divided the party more than anyone else in its 107-year history, and yet he was being hailed and feted as a hero.
News reports say that the large crowd broke into applause several times as Ramaphosa mentioned Zuma. Ramaphosa himself was effusive: “Thank you to the former president for showing a real face of unity that both of us are committed to.”
Ho hum. Ramaphosa knows that Zuma has been destabilising the ANC from within since his preferred candidate, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, lost the party leadership contest in December 2017. Ask ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule – he told a Zuma-supporting crowd in February 2018 that it was only five years to go before they got “their ANC back”.
These are mere digressions, though. The value of Manyi’s assessment that the ANC is fatigued lies in the fact that people like him and Zuma can still be regarded as useful by a party that speaks of integrity as a core value.
Ramaphosa told the Ohlange rally: “Where necessary, we have taken measures to deal with cadres who have undermined the integrity of the movement and the ethical standards expected of public representatives and ANC leaders. This is among the most difficult of organisational tasks, but we remain resolute in our efforts to stamp out deviant and abhorrent practices.”
One must wish Ramaphosa luck in his endeavours. It is indeed a mammoth task. Yet the truth of the matter is that the ANC looks now increasingly beyond rescue. The Zuma years have broken it. It is not a political party. It is a conglomeration of factions – one of which is trying to loot as much as possible before the lights go out. Ramaphosa’s attempts to fix the party are falling on deaf ears within the party itself. That is why there were plans to boo him in KZN.
This year’s election will give the ANC yet another win at national level. If the increasingly hapless Democratic Alliance was more focused there was a possibility of eating into the contradiction-riddled ANC’s base, but the DA is itself pretty rudderless at present. The EFF is just another faction of the ANC – see how two of those factions looted VBS Mutual Bank.
Yet, even if it wins the 2019 elections the ANC’s internal contradictions and factions will continue. The desperation of the likes of Zuma to evade trial will drive these factions. The party will continue to limp. In the run-up to the 2024 elections it will splinter (with a KwaZulu-Natal-led faction built around Zuma walking out). The weaker, splintered party will then lose elections.