The Jacob Zuma faction of the ANC might push for a postponement of the party’s upcoming national conference to avoid seeing their candidate, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, being humiliated by her political rival Cyril Ramaphosa at the party poll, political analysts have suggested.
And they might use the growing factional violence in the organisation – as evidenced at the Eastern Cape provincial conference over the weekend – as a reason for delaying the December national gathering.
Influential members in the NDZ campaign, including the so-called premier league provinces, have drifted away from former African Union Commission chairperson Dlamini-Zuma and opted for a third way to “unify the party”.
Political analyst Professor Lesiba Teffo, who believed strongly that Ramaphosa would win in December, said although a huge effort would be required to force the conference to be postponed, there would still be a concerted attempt by Ramaphosa’s opponents to have it stopped.
Teffo said there was no doubt that Ramaphosa would emerge as a winner and that had created uneasiness among Zuma followers.
“It will be a major challenge to make the conference collapse. Not that there won’t be attempts to do that, but it would require a huge effort,” Teffo said.
The only thing that would save the ANC in 2019 would be a recall of President Zuma and to decisively take action against all forms of corruption, he said.
“The more the ANC keeps Zuma at the helm, the more it will alienate voters. But if they have the courage to recall him, they would be given another chance by the voters,” Teffo said.
Another analyst, Professor Andre Duvenhage, questioned whether the ANC would be able to hold a legitimate conference in December considering the infighting and disputes in provinces such as the Eastern Cape, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and Limpopo.
“It is unlikely that the ANC will have a fair and legitimate conference. It’s likely to degenerate into violence and the process might end up in court. The beneficiaries of any postponement would be the Zuma faction,” Duvenhage said.
Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni concurred with Duvenhage, saying the current violence at provincial conferences was an indication of what was going to happen in December.
“You may have physical fights and accusations of electoral irregularities at the national conference,” Fikeni said.
However, the ANC leadership would ensure the conference went ahead to avoid embarrassment.
“Should the conference collapse, that would make the recovery of the ANC very difficult towards 2019. In that case voters would see that the ANC is failing to self-correct,” he said.
Fikeni noted that, whether the conference was postponed or not, the ANC would remain divided and its problems would spill over to the 2019 general elections.
The analysts’ views came as the majority of provinces were deeply divided.
The Eastern Cape elective conference turned violent at the weekend. KwaZulu-Natal defied Luthuli House and appealed a court ruling declaring its 2015 provincial conference unlawful and null and void.
The legitimacy of the Free State PEC under Ace Magashule is being challenged and in the Northern Cape, supporters of Premier Sylvia Lucas have approached lawyers to challenge the outcome of the party’s May provincial election. – firstname.lastname@example.org