Those warning of civil war if President Jacob Zuma is recalled by the ANC were spouting “empty threats”, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said yesterday.
“It is an empty threat, we don’t take them seriously. We know the desperation by some of them. I don’t give them a chance. The South African security forces would stop that within minutes.”
Zuma’s supporters – mostly fringe movements such as Black First Land First (BLF) – have been calling on the ANC to allow him to finish his term. On Friday, chairperson of the Unemployed People’s Trust, Bafana Nzuza, reportedly said if Zuma was removed, “we feel that this could spark civil war”.
BLF and company may find the fight they are looking for if, together with 11 other organisations, such as the MK Inkululeko Foundation and the National Taxi Alliance, they plan to march to Luthuli House to hand over a memorandum.
The ANC, in turn, has called on its “members, voters and supporters” to “defend” the ANC headquarters against “counter-revolutionist” BLF “who are marching to our office to undermine the leadership of the ANC”, namely ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
The other question remained: why would it be bad if Zuma presented the State of the Nation address on Thursday?
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said it would just be embarrassing for the ANC. “The issue is not about Sona, it’s about the ANC being unable to manage expectations about Zuma’s departure, having assured the world it has it under control,” Mathekga said.
Analyst Daniel Silke said that if Zuma stayed, it would dent the momentum established since December, when Ramaphosa was elected as the new leader.
“It would also undermine the process of renewal begun by Ramaphosa and again put in front of South Africa a leader who increasingly has lost the confidence of not only opposition parties, but clearly within a large body of the ANC as well,” Silke said.
The last word belongs, perhaps, to staunch ANC comrade and the eighth governor of the Reserve Bank, Tito Mboweni.
“Throughout the history of humankind, great leaders knew when to step down or fall on their swords. Those who stubbornly refused to go left a sad legacy, ridiculed and shunned by their own people,” Mboweni said on Twitter.