Molebatsi Masedi is a Polokwane, Limpopo based proponent of radical socio-economic transformation. Twitter: @MolebatsiMasedi.
President Jacob Zuma has since his ascendance in 2007 been fodder to the hitherto starving opposition parties on the South African political landscape. If he could have stayed on until the end of his term in 2019, the ANC would be caviar and champagne for the opposition with marginal provinces like Gauteng and Northern Cape falling into their lap.
Before the recall of Zuma, he was the opposition’s mantra towards the 2019 elections that they dreamed winning through a coalition led by DA. It was Zuma this, Zuma that and Zuma everything.
Zuma was a victor of the ANC 52nd national conference hosted in a marquee rigged on the grounds of the University of Limpopo’s Oscar Mpetha Stadium. Over a short spell of his ascendance, promised unity fizzled into thin air and loyalty was compensated handsome as patronage became the order of the day until the South African state was captured.
Mosiuoa Lekota, Mbhazima Shilowa, Mluleki George and many others across the country served the ANC with divorce papers and left in a huff and puff to found COPE. From here the ANC bled members profusely. The bleeding continued until it reached crescendo with the loss of the metropolitan municipalities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.
Asked whom he would be voting for during the 2009 elections, Thabo Mbeki said in a straight face that his vote was a secret. The ANC threw tantrums at this, COPE read Mbeki’s cryptic reply as a vote for them. For a long time he was cast as the COPE Dalai Lama. At its inaugural conference in December 2008 in Bloemfontein the new party broke into an Mbeki–worship session in songs, speeches and testimonies.
COPE carved off a large number of leaders and members of the ANC, leaving the latter rattling around like an empty vessel it had reduced itself into. Many of its best leaders and members reached a point where they found neither affinity nor joy in their political home and retreated to concentrate in their personal endevours.
The Cope David didn’t floor the ANC Goliath, but the damage it caused was huge and the latter came out of the encounter heavily bruised. In this disintegration and implosion of the ANC, the DA hovered overhead to pick the morsels from the carcass. With the former going through a rough patch the latter with its resources and organisation cashed in handsomely by increasing its voter support throughout the country winning a couple of municipalities in the process.
Just like it never rains but pours for the ailing and limping party, just when it was recovered from the COPE dilemma, another split occurred. This time it was a bunch of hotheads with a phobia for discipline and principle led by a maverick from Limpopo Julius Sello Malema who formed a new party, Economic Freedom Fighters. Malema had fallen foul of ANC discipline and other protocols, he was shown the door. His expulsion stayed when he took it on appeal. Attempts at reversing the decision at the 53rd ANC national conference in Mangaung never made it to the agenda.
Malema never resigned himself to his fate of disappearing into political oblivion. He assembled a ragtag army of disgruntled ANC members and founded the EFF, an addition to the former’s growing list of breakaways. From its birth the ANC was dismissive of the EFF just they were dismissive of COPE that went on to give them a run for their money.
EFF will suffer the same fate of political oblivion as COPE, the ANC argued confidently.
In its first showing at the polls, EFF performed well. It became the official opposition in a number of provincial legislatures. It continued to gain support in local government elections. Curiously it was the municipal support of the EFF that led the ANC to lose its traditional hinterlands of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay. The DA received a harvest that was not immediately available to it.
The loss of the three metros threw the ANC into a navel gazing mode, going around to consult its members and general stakeholders. Where did it go wrong, why are people turning their backs on it and its glorious history, the party agonised almost tearfully. What are we doing wrong, it was heated at Luthuli and all the offices of the organisation everywhere in the country. It was there to see, even for the blind, that the ANC was facing its own Titanic moment.
Julius Malema had drawn first blood, he got his revenge against the party that threw him to the wolves and wished the chew him to the last morsel.
The new leader of the DA Mmusi Maimane who today fancies himself as Nelson Mandela and tomorrow as Barack Obama had his sights on the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa. According to Maimane, there was no way that the ANC would survive the 2019 general elections. He couldn’t see otherwise, he had all the opposition rallying behind him to avoid peeing against the wind storm.
All the signs where there that the ANC couldn’t even make it to 2019. It would implode at its 54th national conference where there was a battle royal between Cyril Ramaphosa and Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who white monopoly capital and its media cast as a Zuma-proxy. According to the opposition between Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma lied the demise of Africa’s oldest liberation.
But as the oracles would ordain it, not only did the ANC survive certain death at Nasrec, it emerged united behind the leadership of Cyril Ramaphosa. From Nasrec things started to move at breakneck speed with the opposition in particular the DA panting for their breath.
President Zuma was eased out of office and Ramaphosa took over as the new number one. A mini cabinet reshuffle occurred to bring in the new president’s people and discard the dead wood from Zuma era. Indeed a New Dawn was upon the country and Thuma Mina, Send Me, became the rallying point and uniting vision for all citizens.
As Ramaphosa rolled back his shirt sleeves to cleanse the country, the DA prospects of winning one or two provinces diminished with every passing day. Disgruntled ANC voters and supporters returned home to rebuild. Once more members felt proud of their party membership.
To compound Maimane’s diminishing prospects of winning power, his party went through its own rough patch. First there were Helen Zille’s neo-colonial tweets that landed her in lukewarm water for reasons known only by Maimane and his Federal Council. The full might of DA venom was reserved for the well-travelled Patricia de Lille who is on her way out after delivering the coloured vote. Her usefulness is exhausted and she can now be discarded like a used-something.
The EFF has broken away from the Maimane coalitions and returned to its original political home the ANC through which in coalition with the UDM they wrestled Nelson Mandela Metro from the clutches of DA. In Tshwane the Mayor escaped the motion of his removal by a whisker and Mashaba is living on borrow times.
Post-Zuma South Africa is rough and tough for the DA.