Former president Jacob Zuma’s supporters within the ANC have a vested interest in denying the positive impact current president Cyril Ramaphosa has had in the 2019 party’s elections victory, according to academic Ivor Sarakinsky.
Sarakinsky, a professor at the Wits School of Governance, yesterday endorsed the view expressed by ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula, who said the ruling party dodged losing more votes, had Ramaphosa not led the campaign.
The May 8 polls saw the ANC vote decreasing from 62.15% in 2014 to 57% in 2019, while in Gauteng – South Africa’s economic engine – the party remained on a knife edge during counting, to win 50.19% votes compared to 63.59% received in 2014.
Mbalula’s remark that the ANC would have scored less than 40% in the elections without Ramaphosa at the helm prompted a sharp response from party secretary-general Ace Magashule, who immediately rubbished the claims, saying people “voted for the ANC and not an individual”.
This view has been exacerbated by ANC Eastern Cape heavyweight and member of the Nelson Mandela mayoral committee, Andile Lungisa, who has gone further in his criticism of Mbalula, labelling him “a craven careerist, charlatan and the poison that will kill the body of the ANC”.
“He is pathetically trying to create a cult of president Ramaphosa,” said Lungisa.
In support of Mbalula’s analysis, Sarakinsky said: “If one looks at the disparity between provincial and national votes, the ANC national number is a bit higher than the combined provincial ANC votes.
“This suggests that many gave the ANC a vote of support at national level as a result of President Ramaphosa’s actions and him providing hope for a better immediate future.”
“Due to their vested interest in denying the positive impact Ramaphosa had, Zumaites will continue to try and undermine him going forward.
“This is the dynamic to watch for now,” added Sarakinsky.
The Magashule and Lungisa comments, said Sarakinsky, were “a clear indication that the infighting in the ANC has ignited and is gathering momentum”.
He predicted that the internal wrangling would “intensify in the short-term”.
“It is a rocky road ahead.
“All the tough decisions that need to be made about Cabinet, the economy, jobs and clean government, will lead to factional battles intensifying – placing further strain on the already shaky image of ANC unity.
“What Ramaphosa needs now is a combination of the wisdom of Solomon and a strategic, decisive Machiavellianism,” said Sarakinsky.
Sensing the impact the public spat among his comrades would have in denting his determination to forge the much-needed unity and renewal of the ANC, Ramaphosa over the weekend made a veiled reference to bickering within the party.
“The ANC must be an organisation of disciplined comrades. Our leaders must always speak with one voice, show unity and not hang our dirty linen in public,” Ramaphosa told ANC supporters gathering outside Luthuli House party headquarters in Johannesburg.