Editorials 23.9.2016 06:18 pm

Are Gwede and co about to quit the ANC en masse?

 Gwede Mantashe talks to members of the media,12 July 2016, at Luthuli House, Johanneburg, during a press conference where he touched on recent issues relating to Zimbabwe and the SABC. Picture: Alaister Russell

Gwede Mantashe talks to members of the media,12 July 2016, at Luthuli House, Johanneburg, during a press conference where he touched on recent issues relating to Zimbabwe and the SABC. Picture: Alaister Russell

Talk in ANC circles reportedly indicates that ANC leaders frustrated with President Zuma may be about to abandon ship.

Perhaps the most extraordinary bit of reporting from today’s lead story in the Mail & Guardian is a near minor detail about ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe “wanting out”. And he’s supposedly not alone, since ANC national executive committee members “frustrated with the president are planning to resign en masse”, according to the paper.

This was in relation to the fact that the ruling party is doing all it can to avoid further damaging and costly splits in its ranks. Some analysts have said that there may be as many as three or four major factions within the ruling party, and heaven only knows how many smaller ones. When it comes to the leadership succession battle, however, it has come down to a choice between President Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

According to the M&G, “there has been talk in several ANC structures that secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has told Zuma and alliance leaders that he wants out”.

The real likelihood of so many politicians quitting their lucrative lives is probably not high. Mantashe will also, of course, reveal nothing of the sort if asked, and will probably mumble yet another tired denial about all of this at the next press conference. He may even find the energy to fish out an old line from his bag of cliches about the media being counter-revolutionary.

But who could blame him and others for being sick and tired of the current state of South African politics?

The wrecking ball that is Zuma just keeps bashing on, and anyone with half a conscience must be feeling pretty nauseated by it all.

If Mantashe and a number of others (whoever they are, but we could probably guess) up and quit, it will be an extraordinary political statement, but it will leave Zuma with an ANC that’s even more heavily packed with loyalists and Zuma supporters. In the short term, that is likely to help the president and his cabal, but it will be very damaging to the ruling party in the long run, and national elections will be upon us all in 2019, where no one can take an ANC victory for granted any more.

Whether Zuma and his pals even care about that is moot. They’re likely to feel that there will still be plenty of meat to pick off the bones of the ANC’s corpse should they finally find a way to kill their “beloved” African National Congress once and for all.

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