Sunday’s City Press newspaper carried a headline that claimed there were calls for the ANC to “axe” former president Jacob Zuma and current secretary general Ace Magashule.
The report alleged a faction in KZN, purportedly aligned to President Cyril Ramaphosa, wants them gone on grounds of ill-discipline.
Their argument hinges on the much-contested NEC decision that said all those implicated in wrongdoing should step aside while investigations and court cases proceed.
The report admitted this moribund decision hadn’t found favour among the organisation’s rank and file.
It mentioned the names of embattled KZN chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu and MP Bongani Bongo as examples of non-adherence to this decision.
In the past, it was claimed Mabuyakhulu was part of the CR faction in KZN.
So, the decision by the provincial executive committee to reinstate him puts a spanner in the works.
It kills the debate on the likes of ex-eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and others who have been subject of an internal tug-of-war since the elective conference in 2017.
The City Press article, however, does not recognise new developments within the ANC which aren’t really following the traditional factionalism of Jacob Zuma versus CR. The outdated mode of analysis fails to recognise that in politics everything is about interests, and these interests aren’t static.
Nonetheless, the battle decider in the ANC isn’t firing Zuma and Magashule, but the melting point will come with the bank statements that detail the names of those who were paid during the last elective conference.
It is alleged influential individuals, judges and others were paid large sums that were contributed by “faceless” Good Samaritans.
The crux of the matter in this whole debacle is there are allegations that the donors are already reaping huge returns from their “investments” as the much-talked about reforms and restructuring in the state’s composition take shape. Thus, the risk at the moment is in those who are facilitating this in the rules governing public procurement to refute the growing discontent.
The tipping point is close.
The fallout between the former MK veterans and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula is just the tip of the iceberg. Mbalula’s rant on Twitter signalled he could be cornered because others are aware of what’s going on in the transportation sector.
Explosive information on the beneficiaries of irregularities could soon make the front pages of newspapers. Again, these beneficiaries could be the same people and companies in the “buried” financial statements from 2017.
The likes of Zuma and Magashule could be among the privileged few who are in possession of these financial statements.
What many people don’t realise is these documents have the potential to create an unprecedented crisis for the three arms of the state, and beyond. If anyone thought the Bell Pottinger moment was key in determining the extent of state capture, he or she has to think again.
The group that has always been said to have their backs against the wall at the Zondo Commission could be having the upper hand.
They have the power to decide who can become a hated devil overnight. Their wild card lies in the vaulted bank statements that they have had since day zero.
This means that there is no one who will have guts to arrest Magashule, and let alone removing him from his position. He has the information that could change the country’s political scenery overnight.
While the focus is on millions misappropriated in the Estina and asbestos projects in the Free State, Magashule carries a dossier that could expose billions of rand of graft.
Moeletsi Mbeki calls Zuma “the Godfather of South African politics”. Zuma is waiting for a good moment to embarrass everyone, and this is something that he is more than capable of doing. It is a matter of time before he plays his ace of spades.
As such, there are many ways that have been tried to force him to pull back, but he knows he is under attack from all fronts.
The Zuma-Magashule story is a story within a bigger story, however.
The pre-occupation with Zuma (and Magashule for that matter) in the media makes journalists blind to new power battles that are likely to shape the ANC at the national level and in provinces such as Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KZN and the Eastern Cape. Gauteng is already engaged in succession battles that will hog the headlines in upcoming months.
This assertion is not discounting the impending showdowns that are likely to occur in the biggest and influential regions, including Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, eThekwini, AmaThole, Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay, etc. The battle for the soul of the ANC resembles ping-pong. This war will not end with either suspensions or the firing of Zuma and Magashule.
South African media and analysts fail to understand that every hurricane is preceded by a storm, and the Godfather of South African politics could have a final say.
* Hadebe is an independent political writer and analyst.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.