Columns 2.12.2016 05:31 am

How cunning Zuma outwits his enemies

President Jacob Zuma addresses the Media at an ANC briefing, Parktown, 5 May 2014. He was answering questions from the media relating to the upcoming elections.   Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

President Jacob Zuma addresses the Media at an ANC briefing, Parktown, 5 May 2014. He was answering questions from the media relating to the upcoming elections. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

It’s amazing how Zuma, a former cattle herder who learnt to read at age 21, keeps outfoxing his seemingly smarter colleagues.

The cunning President Jacob Zuma was at his Machiavellian best over the weekend.

He outsmarted the national executive committee (NEC) of his party in a cliffhanger that kept the media, pundits and ANC members holding their breath in the hope that his reign would finally be ended. But the vote to oust him never panned out and the saga ended like a damp squib.

Zuma thumbed his nose at his “comrades”, summoned supporters to attend the meeting and then left the debate to meet Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

It’s amazing how this former cattle herder, who learnt to read at age 21 in prison, keeps outfoxing his seemingly smarter colleagues. Not only has he survived several votes of no confidence in parliament, but him overcoming this latest act of no confidence by his party has left all dumbfounded.

Having initiated the recall of president Thabo Mbeki in 2008 with great aplomb, Zuma is intent on ensuring that mechanism fails against him. But should his detractors succeed, he will take all those feeders at the trough down with him.

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Zuma had recently – and astutely, at that – announced he was aware of those who were “on the take” in his party and claimed he would not rule out a Cabinet reshuffle after the NEC meeting, sending out an indirect warning that he would not hesitate to fire those disloyal to him.

Such threats, as we know, also appeal to the basest instincts of fellow politicians, who will cling to their jobs at all costs.

We can only imagine what a viper’s nest the president inhabits. Revealing there had been three attempts to poison him, Zuma expends his geriatric energy warding off enemies. He also makes it known, in no uncertain terms, that he’s aware of efforts to unseat him.

But his political survival seems a full-time occupation and one wonders when he ever governs – if he does. Not even the plethora of local social movements, highly funded by overseas money, can unseat His Excellency. Every one of their strategies have failed and the more they try, the more they bomb.

Reminds me of the person who called into a radio talk show and presciently declared that those who waste their energy on the #Zuma-MustFall campaign are blind to the fact that the ANC is no longer relevant.

Indeed, by hanging on to Zuma, the party will likely not succeed at the polls at the next national election in 2019.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte claimed “there will always be vested interests in any contestation. Our concern is managing this”. But this is not just any contestation. “Vested interests” are the glue that keeps the ruling party together.

She also said she didn’t know of anyone in the Cabinet who wanted to resign. Of course not! To resign is not as exciting as being fired. The victim is instantly transformed into a martyr and ensured salvation in the future.

Post-NEC fulminations have to be taken with a pinch of salt. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the hate for Zuma in the NEC was palpable. He was obviously unaware of how we, the people, feel.

FILE PICTURE: Rhoda Kadalie, anti-apartheid activist, making a speech in Athlone.

FILE PICTURE: Rhoda Kadalie, an anti-apartheid activist

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