* Please note that Lily Gosam is a pseudonym as the author does not wish to be identified

The contestation within the Tripartite Alliance and amongst ANC factions has been interpreted by many to be as a result of Zuma’s Presidency steadily drawing to a close. This, however, is a grave misinterpretation of the situation. The emergence of the Premier League; the seemingly divergent views of the ANCWL and ANCYL over who should be the next President; Zuma’s coyness at naming a successor and the silencing of any succession talk; the side-lining of the SACP and the splitting of Cosatu; the battle for control over ANC positions in KZN; and calls for a woman president — are all calculated moves with a singular mission: To retain Jacob Zuma for a third term as ANC President.

Some may dismiss this claim as preposterous for the following reasons: Firstly, if Zuma retained his position as ANC President, while the SA Constitution prevents him from having a third term as President of the Country, it would mean two centres of power — one in the ANC and one in Government — and such a situation is prohibited by ANC policy; secondly, Zuma has no desire for a third term as ANC President, so the concern is moot; and lastly, even if Zuma wanted a third term, he (like Thabo Mbeki before him) will fail in his attempt. I will deal with each objection in turn.

1. Party policy prevents a third term

Although South Africa’s Constitution limits the president to a maximum of two terms, the ANC’s constitution has no term limits for its president. There was talk in 2007 when Mbeki was seeking a third term as ANC President, to limit the terms to two, and thus synchronise the term limits of the office of the ANC leadership with that of government. However, the ANC’s constitution was not changed, nor was a special (2/3) resolution passed, which disallowed more than two terms for an ANC President. Instead a compromise was made - as Kgalema Motlanthe (ANC secretary-general at the time) announced to the delegates in 2007: “there is a general agreement that the ANC president should preferably be the ANC candidate for the president of the republic”, but that there was a strong view "that this must not be made a principle”[1]. So, the ANC’s two-term limitation is nothing more than a gentleman’s agreement. As such, one should consider the fact that if Zuma captures enough votes to be made ANC President for a third time, he has enough votes to ride roughshod over this so-called “general agreement”.

In 2007, when Zuma was ANC deputy President, he argued for no limits to be placed on the number of terms a party leader can serve[2].

2. Zuma does not want a third term

In October 2015, Zuma made an off the cuff remark at the ANC’s national general council: "Even if they beg me I won't stand [for a third term as ANC President]."[3] However, he then quickly back-peddled that same month, stating that he would be guided by the ruling party on whether to stay on as ANC leader[4] (which is a convenient way of couching one’s personal ambitions behind that of being a humble servant). A month prior to his unequivocal rejection, Zuma stated that, "We have not expressed ourselves yet on the matter [of my 3 term as ANC president], we will discuss that when we get to the discussion of documents at the PGC.” [5] Thus Zuma’s rejection of a third term was a singular moment, in an otherwise consistent stand that a third term was still on the table. ANC insiders aligned with Zuma were said to be “testing the waters” [6] for Zuma’s third term in the lead up to the NGC, and it is conceivable Zuma was doing the same with his flippant rejection declaration at the NGC.  The fact that Zuma withdrew his rejection soon afterwards may allude to the fact that he received the support he was seeking.

Meanwhile, the news media (such as Max du Preez[7]) have reported that those close to Zuma say he wants to be re-elected as ANC president, and his allies have expressed their support for his third term, including the Premier League provinces and executive members of the ANCYL.

As to the subject of succession: In 2008, Zuma said "I would prefer to leave after one term… Even if it is not one term, I think in the second term I should be able to … begin the process of winding down. I would allow open debate, not make people guess what is going to happen in terms of succession. This would allow the organisation to indicate what it wants.”[8] And yet succession talk by ANC members has been muzzled. Zuma himself remains silent on the matter, only expressing support for a “woman” being the next President of the Country. Some have interpreted his remark — incorrectly — to mean that he will therefore not be seeking a third term as ANC President. A case in point: Ranjeni Munusamy in her Daily Maverick article, “Zuma third term or woman president” (16 Sept 2015)[9], found it “puzzling” that the Premier League helped install new leaders in the ANCWL and ANCYL, and yet those organisations had divergent views on who should be elected the next President: The ANCWL is calling for a woman president, while the ANCYL is calling for a third term for Zuma. However, if one qualifies the term “president”, such that the ANCYL wants Zuma to continue being president of the ANC, and the ANCWL wants a woman to be the next president of the country — the contradiction evaporates. The Premier League and Zuma are gunning for two centres of power.

Zuma speaks of “president” and “third term”, without specifying if he is referring to the ANC or SA government positions, and he lets Journalists fill in the blanks for him, which only assists him in his subterfuge (I’m guilty of doing the same above, to make my point). The media has to get Zuma to say what he means, precisely. And hopefully he will mean what he says; that is, if he says anything at all.

And lastly, one can expose Zuma’s third term aspirations by asking one simple question: Can Zuma afford not to be ANC president? Consider — Guptas, lucrative tenders, fraud and corruption charges, household expenses, Nkandla upkeep…  So Zuma has everything to lose if his powers as ANC president are removed (including possibly his freedom, due to jail-time), and everything to gain by remaining. This makes him exceedingly dangerous, and determined.

3. Zuma will fail to achieve a third term

So, Zuma can be, wants to be, and has to be ANC president for a third time (and will then rule — to use his phrase — until Jesus comes back[10]). This then raises the question — Will Zuma secure enough votes in 2017 to win a third term as ANC President? According to City Press, the ANC branches were most likely to reject a third term campaign[11] and journalist Max du Preez believed it was “highly improbable” that Zuma would win[12]. However, politicians win elections by promising to deliver what people want, and Zuma has to appease just 2 000 delegates in order to hold 54 million South Africans to ransom.

Thus far: Zuma has won over the ANCYL, with the help of the Premier League, and so secured their support for his third term ambitions; he has won the ANCWL by promising to install a woman as SA president; and, he has the support of the Premier League and their respective provinces (of the North West, Mpumalanga, and Free State) by promising them (and other provinces e.g. 40% of EC) retention of their positions, power, and lucrative deals. Political analyst and researcher Elvis Masoga described the situation as, “…the premier league, ANCYL and ANCWL are President Jacob Zuma’s ‘power brokers and storm troopers’.”[13]

In addition, Zuma’s slate will mostly likely win +50% support of the largest delegate province of KZN by promising a Zulu for ANC president (himself), a Zulu SA president (Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma), and a Zulu deputy president (Baleka Mbete) (Their biggest rival, Cyril Ramaphosa is not a Zulu) [14] [15]  Zuma is further helped by the fact that his ally Sihle Zikalala won as Head of the KZN Administration in Nov 2015 [16]; and lastly, his slate provides the remainder of the delegates with a credible candidate of Dlamini-Zuma as SA President.

Having extrapolated the ANC membership numbers for 2017, and taking into account the above, including the use of slates — Zuma will have, at an absolute minimum, 41.7% of the votes for ANC President going into the 2017 National Conference (see charts below).  The findings are based on the following assumptions:

  • Forecasted 2017 Membership Numbers are based on 2007 to 2015 data (excluding 2012  data, as it consists of too many outliers), with the use of a simple linear regression model;
  • 4 500 Total Delegate Votes, and 4 103 Total Delegate Votes for Provinces (i.e. same as 2012);
  • 3 977 Total No. of Delegate Votes for ANC President position (i.e. same as 2012);
  • No adjustments to the Membership-Delegate voting conversion for the Provinces. (In 2012 slight adjustments were made to try counteract the outliers);
  • Grouped with-me-or-against-me voting patterns (which is consistent with slate-voting practises; and
  • A Zuma slate of: Zuma (ANC President) — Dlamini-Zuma (SA President) — Baleka Mbete (SA Deputy President).

It should be noted that people’s loyalties are kept close to their chests, and are non-static, therefore the Zuma/Rival support-bases are rough estimates only, and based on current journalistic reports and internal ANC election results.

It’s important to note that Zuma’s 41.7% forecasted support figure exclude spikes in membership numbers, which was the case in 2012 when Zuma was elected for a 2nd term, e.g. Comparing 2010 and 2012 Membership numbers, Pro-Zuma Provinces of Mpumalanga had an 186% membership increase, Free State 190.9%, and KZN 72.3%, while Pro-Motlanthe Gauteng responded with a 91.9% increase and Limpopo 58.7%[17] [18] [19] [20].

In addition, the forecast excludes: gate-keeping to reduce membership numbers in strategic areas; ghost members and ghost delegates[21]; patronage promises (including positions held currently by SACP members, who find themselves with critics in Cosatu, being neutralised by “kingmakers” [22] [23] [24]i.e. The Premier League); protection from prosecution for illegal dealings; threats and assassinations of uncooperative delegates and members; the manipulation of delegate credentials[25]; tampering with the formula that converts Membership votes to Delegate votes; cash or tenders for votes; and a biased pre-programmed electronic voting system. All of the above have occurred at one time or the other in previous ANC elective conferences, and were used in 2012 to help Zuma defeat Kgalema Motlanthe as ANC/SA President. These tactics are already evident now in the lead up to 2017 National Conference.

According to News24, a highly placed source within the Tripartite Alliance said that money is being thrown around by the Premier League to buy votes and patronage. The Alliance insider also stated that 2017 was going to be a “big, big battle.”[26] [Comment: Is the money that was laundered through Nkandla being used as Zuma’s war chest for the buying of ANC votes? If one follows the money trail from Government, to Nkandla/Zuma, to the builders and architects, to the Premier League, to the buying of ANC votes, then the house of cards would fall, creating such a firestorm it would overwhelm the fire-pool.]

Currently, all indications are that the ANC is not capable of holding free and fair election within its elective conferences; a situation which favours Zuma. It should also be kept in mind, that if the elections within the majority party are undemocratic, it’s only a matter of time for the rot to infect the Country’s electoral system.

And finally — if Zuma’s dismissive and jovial mood in Parliament’s November 2015 Q&A session is anything to go by, he believes he is well on his way to winning the war and being anointed king. Which would mean that the opposition, the judiciary, his enemies, and the general public are all redundant; they just don’t know it yet.

Zuma’s plan for a third term, step-by-step:

  1. In 2017, after insisting he won't run for a third term as ANC President, Zuma will be "persuaded" at the last moment by his well-trained sycophants to accept the nomination, like a reluctant hero (a role he played in 2008 when he said "...if it was me deciding, if the ANC had made me president of the country (I would prefer one term)"[27]. In the same vain, he stated in Oct 2015 “Even the president has no right to take his own decision. We don’t act as individuals, the ANC guides us,” he said. “When the time comes the ANC will direct us. To begin to raise a debate about it now does not help the ANC.”[28]

  2. In 2017 — as part of the Zuma slate — Dlamini-Zuma will be elected by ANC delegates to be the next SA President, and Baleka Mbete as SA deputy president. (There may be the possibility that Zuma will resign as SA President in 2017, thus allowing Dlamini-Zuma and Co to take their positions early in Government. This is based on Zuma’s statement in 2014 that South Africa is ready for a woman president and that it could happen sooner than expected.[29]

  3. Whether in 2019 (after the ANC has won the General Election), or in 2017, Dlamini-Zuma will be sworn in as SA President, but Zuma as ANC President will be the power behind the throne, with none of the checks and balances built into the Country’s constitutional system. As Pierre de Vos (Constitutional Expert) states: "…where the President of the majority party does not serve as President of the country..., the authority of the President and his or her executive may well be fatally compromised and the constitutional system may well take severe strain. In such a situation, the danger is that very little real power will be exercised within the formal constitutional structures like the Presidency and the executive."[30]

  4. Dlamini-Zuma will be a dead-duck President (“lame-duck” would be an underestimation of her lowly position). Since, if she does not do as her ex-husband dictates, she can be forced to resign or be fired/recalled by the ANC, and Baleka Mbete (Zuma’s puppet extraordinaire) becomes acting-President. Alternatively, due to a major flaw in SA’s Constitution (namely a sub-clause contained in section 88(2)), Zuma can be elected by the majority party as SA's acting-President for the remainder of Dlamini-Zuma’s term, as it is not considered by the Constitution to be a “third term” [31]  [32].

Zuma’s support for a woman as the next President of the Country is contrary to his sexist, patriarchal views of women. And as for the Premier League, “Their personal histories do not suggest in any way that they are great gender equality activists.”[33] So then why do they support Dlamini-Zuma as President of the Country, despite her being a woman, and the fact that - because of her past history - he and the Premier League are said not to trust her, and that Zuma prefers Mbete to be the next SA President[34] [35] [36]? For one, Dlamini-Zuma is a viable candidate against their biggest rival, Ramaphosa. But for Zuma to just hand over the reins of power to his ex-wife Dlamini-Zuma, it only makes sense if he has some hold over her; namely the ANC Presidency. Zuma has never said that he wants a woman to be the next “President of the ANC”, only the Country. And as Zuma has stated repeatedly, the ANC comes first before the Country.

There is, however, a caveat to all of the above. The Premier League and other Zuma allies may find between now and the 2017 ANC Elective Conference (which is a lifetime in politics) that Zuma’s third term bid has become too much of a liability, due to: resistance from within the ANC; Zuma’s woes with the Courts (including Nkandla in three courts, Spy-tape hearings, NPA appointments); the removal of Zuma’s Cadre Appointees in Government (eg. Hlaudi Motsoeneng (?); the Premier’s overestimation of their own powers and influence of ANC delegates (which occurred at the 2015 NGC while trying to prevent the formation of an Integrity Commission[37]); more stringent enforcement against internal ANC election tampering; growing unpopularity by the public against Zuma; serious economic upheavals; and, a significant drop in ANC voter support in the Country’s Local Government elections. Under these circumstances, the League may decide to dump Zuma in favour of Dlamini-Zuma as ANC President and as SA President — despite mistrusting her — since she is the only credible candidate to challenge Ramaphosa[38].  And thus Zuma will find himself as the fall guy. As Winston Churchill once said (1937), “Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount.”

Conspiracy Theory vs Real Conspiracy

For those who dismiss what I’ve said as being nothing more than a dreamed-up “conspiracy theory” — they fail to recognise the very real conspiracy of Zuma and his cabal.  Whereas a conspiracy theory provides a misguided and improbable solution to explain a past event — I describe a highly probable future outcome, taking into account the players involved, their behaviour and statements, and how they will benefit if they succeed. Whereas a conspiracy theory uses an unqualified thumb-suck to justify its findings — the implications of what I’ve said are based on legal fact, as well as reputable journalist and media house reports. And, whereas a conspiracy theory is a convoluted scheme that requires superhuman abilities — I have laid out Zuma’s sinister plan, which is simple and straightforward. To quote Noam Chomsky in this regard:  “The phrase "conspiracy theory" is one of those that's constantly brought up, and I think its effect simply is to discourage institutional analysis.”

Whether Ramaphosa, Dlamini-Zuma, or whoever wishes to contest for the presidency of the ANC and the country, is not the issue. The issue is that the contest be free, fair, transparent, and democratic. This is in direct contradiction with Zuma’s third term efforts — the outcome of which would spell the termination of South Africa’s Democracy and hard fought-for Freedoms. Forewarned is forearmed.

Anti-corruption not anti-ANC

All that I have stated above should not be interpreted as being anti-ANC rhetoric. South Africans need to stop dividing one another into us-and-them camps of For-ANC or Against-ANC, and instead we must define those who are For-Corruption and those who are Against-Corruption, and then those “Against” must unite. That way, the corrupt will have nowhere to hide.

Those who display a genuine abhorrence of corruption and ethical decay — irrespective of the organisation they belong to — must be supported. This is especially true for ANC members and supporters who speak up and speak out against corruption and maladministration in their own ranks — for they will be displaying a great strength of character and loyalty to the ideals of a free, democratic society, for which the ANC helped establish. By dismissing and attacking such ANC members and supporters on the basis that they are guilty by association, only isolates and silences them.

Likewise, ANC members and supporters must not view an attack on Zuma and his cronies as an attack on the ANC and so jump to his defence. As much as Zuma has brought the Office of the South African Presidency into disrepute, he has done the very same to the ANC. Zuma places the ANC ahead of the Country, but he also places himself and his ambitions ahead of the ANC. Zuma must be shown the respect he deserves, namely none.

As Justice Malala (political analyst) said: “The Zuma bus is taking us over the cliff. And if we stay quiet, if we don’t point out the sharp decline that he has brought about, both in the quality of the ANC’s leadership of society and in the quality of leadership in government, then we are laughing with the bus driver, the thief-in-chief from Nkandla.”[39]

Going forward — for ANC members who genuinely hold dear the ideals of the ANC, they face a stark choice because the situation is so dire. Zuma and his cronies have to be recalled immediately, before their plan gathers any more momentum (as well as instituting profound electoral reforms within the Party) [40]. If that attempt fails, then those members must leave en masse and make a new political home, which is better constructed and democratic, but that retains the ideals and aspirations of the former ANC. If you build it, the people of SA will come. [41]

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