The much-hyped unity and renewal of the ANC appears to be a very long way away and without any doubt a very difficult mission to accomplish for Cyril Ramaphosa.
In saying this, one takes into consideration the fact that unity and renewal, as phenomena of human endeavour, are processes and that it may be unfair and even unjustified to conclude about whether they failed or not until the processes have run their course.
But it’s easy to see that since Nasrec, matters do not appear to be rosy in the governing party. The more things change the more they remain the same for the party that boasts the likes of Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela among its former great leaders.
Despite unity and renewal topping the agenda at Nasrec 2017, there has been no real unity or clear attempts aimed at achieving it, but more talk of unity than unity itself.
When looking at the governing party from all angles since Nasrec, a gulf of divisions among ANC members is widening as we move forward. The pre-Nasrec divisions are still intact. Still aggrieved and bitter, these groups continue to behave as if there was never a resolution on unity at Nasrec.
Jacob Zuma may still be the main influencer, but he has his heir-apparent in Ace Magashule, the elephant in the room. We also have the small fractions of the ANC youth and women’s leagues and some MK veterans who continue to hero-worship Zuma. We also saw Magashule, Supra Mahumapelo and Des van Rooyen at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture this week in solidarity with Zuma.
Recently David Mahlobo, a Ramaphosa Cabinet member, took time off his state duty to greet and receive grievances of Zuma-backing MK vets outside Luthuli House, and Bathabile Dlamini earlier publicly proclaimed that Ramaphosa purged them because they supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s party election campaign.
Kebby Maphatsoe, a leader of the dissatisfied vets, returns to drum up the former combatants behind Zuma at the state capture commission. Maphatsoe favoured MK unity during the Ramaphosa interim phase, but changed tack when he was excluded from the new Cabinet.
Despite a Nasrec resolution that both factions of MK vets – including one led by Sphiwe Nyanda – must negotiate for unity under the auspices of the ANC subcommittee on peace and stability, the two sides continue to bicker.
Not so long ago, the ANC’s economic transformation chief, Enoch Godongwana, a Ramaphosa man, and Magashule publicly squared up over whether the Reserve Bank should be nationalised or not. Who will emerge triumphant in this battle? The jury is still out.
Zuma this week told all and sundry that ANC leaders Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Sphiwe Nyanda were apartheid spies, but information from those who knew Zuma in exile say he should first point an accusing finger at himself. A new battle is about to begin about who the real apartheid impimpi was in the ANC.
With his revelation, Zuma made the ground even more fertile for further divisions within the party. Muddying the waters is in his interest at this point as long as that helps him stay out of jail.
For him the ANC unity no longer matters, but saving his skin does.