Surrounded by his acolytes Supra Mahumapelo, Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Carl Niehaus as his followers belted out One Settler, One Bullet and M’shini wam, Jacob Zuma was in fighting mode yesterday.
Outside the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban, where he made a brief appearance on corruption charges, he was aggressive, telling his supporters he was “tired of being nice” and “of being provoked”.
The message of the day was that “radical economic transformation” – and Zuma by association – was very much still on the table, despite the best efforts of “white monopoly capital” to cow him and his supporters.
Zuma and his ANC faction were announcing that they would not accept the defeat they were handed at the ANC electoral conference last year.
Mahumapelo referred repeatedly to the “revolution”, saying Zuma, “our president”, was pursuing it. He dismissed the notion of an alternative party, saying he and the others would fight to take back the ANC.
However, political analyst Daniel Silke said that despite the bluster, Zuma was “on the back foot” and that “a return to power in any form is well beyond him”.
But younger proponents of the Zuma philosophy, such as Mahumapelo, might be ready to assume his mantle.
The rhetoric of the “black caucus”, the uniformed uMkhonto weSizwe veterans, the profligacy of ANC regalia and constant references to “president Zuma” all combined to deliver a mighty slap to the ANC’s national executive committee.
Mahumapelo called on people to stick to their principles despite the consequences of backing “our president”.
Silke said the deep divisions in the ANC had clearly not gone away.
“The divisions are really around those who enjoy patronage under Zuma versus the new broom that’s sweeping clean.”
The rhetoric was an attempt to create two centres of power in the ANC “to set a different agenda to that of Ramaphosa to give ANC supporters a choice of agendas”, he said.
“Today’s (Friday’s) event seems to have set the tone for this alternative movement which seems to be mushrooming with more displays of solidarity. It’s a crystallisation of what this movement wants to push in the ANC, which is a populist view on land, radical economic transformation and patronage.”
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