During one of the countless motions of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, Floyd Shivambu of the Economic Freedom Fighters said in parliament: “… Jacob Zuma will turn around and kill you. That’s what kleptocrats do.”
He was of course shouted down, and even charged for uttering those words. His words were directed at the ANC caucus in parliament, the one body that has done just as much as the national executive committee to keep the president in power.
Of course, history has not proven Shivambu right, but only the very naive would call his words far-fetched given what’s going on inside the ruling party.
The ruling party’s Eastern Cape provincial conference deteriorated into a wrestling mess this past weekend when alleged pro-Zuma supporters disrupted proceedings because they could sense, right at the beginning, that their candidate would not win the election to lead the province going into the all-important ANC National Conference in December.
Viewed in isolation, the fracas in the Eastern Cape is nothing other than power-hungry politicians fighting for control.
Viewed through the prism of Shivambu’s words however, these are simply the chickens coming home to roost.
More than fighting for political power by installing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as his successor, the president is fighting to stay out of jail when his term ends.
Explained simply, a pro-Nkosazana-Zuma leader winning the Eastern Cape would mean better chances of Zuma staying out of jail.
But when it’s very clear they cannot win openly contested leadership races, they would rather disrupt conferences to ensure no one gets elected and that the ANC ceases to function unless it’s to the president’s advantage.
In other words, kill the ANC to continue protecting the one man who has brought the country and the ruling party to a chaotic point in history.
It is therefore not surprising that increasingly, disputes within the ruling party are being settled through the country’s judicial system when a few years ago it was not only frowned upon to take the ANC to court, it led to automatic isolation.
It has come to a point where the most politically volatile and most important region in the ruling party’s structures is now virtually leaderless. Why? Because the president and his supporters railroaded everyone into ensuring his leadership and interests are protected beyond his term of office.
It is telling that political killings have now emerged as a common way of settling leadership disputes within the ruling party in KwaZulu-Natal. It is not as though the president of the country and the ANC is not aware of these killings, rather, it is a matter of the balance of power.
Who benefits the most from a politically unstable KZN or Eastern Cape? Those that want a continuation of the status quo.
As the country heads towards the ANC’s December elective conference, those that protected the president in parliament must now witness their chickens coming home to roost.
They can expect more chairs to fly at other provincial conferences as the actions of the president and his band of supporters finally prove Shivambu right.