President Cyril Ramaphosa and others who used donations during the ANC presidential campaign may have not committed a crime, but they breach an old ANC tradition that money and external influences should not play a role in choosing leaders.
This is according to political analyst Zamikhaya Maseti, as Ramaphosa faced pressure following a revelation that certain rich individuals funded his campaign in 2017.
Ramaphosa needed no donation or funding because South Africans were fed-up with Jacob Zuma.
“Ramaphosa and his campaign managers misread the mood of South Africans, hence he opted for donations. I blame their political strategy, they lacked foresight. People were gatvol of Zuma and called for him to fall,” Maseti said.
If Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had won the race, the party would have lost the 2019 election, obtaining about 35% of the votes, he said.
“Those who donated millions into the CR campaign did so because they had an interest in Ramaphosa becoming the president. But the problem is that this is the institutionalisation of money in the ANC campaign and it’s happening on a very large scale,” Maseti said.
The tradition was for the ANC presidential race not to be contested, but Zuma breached that tradition in Polokwane in 2007 when he stood against Thabo Mbeki.
“The loophole was opportunistically opened by JZ, but the money was still not an issue even at the time,” he said.
The problem in the current campaigning was that money played a big part.
“This money does not go to the ANC party coffers but it goes to one slate. You can’t blame Ramaphosa for having stage-managed the leadership and getting more donations than others. The real problem is the Americanisation of the ANC internal processes. Now one slate of the party has millions that the party does not have in its coffers,” Maseti said.
The use of money in the ANC campaigns was something alien to tradition. He criticised the institutionalisation of money which he said was happening on a large scale.
Funding individual campaigns raised the issue of class interests.
“With millions donated to him, you need to ask which class does Ramaphosa represent – the masses or business? For sure business. There is no such thing as free lunch, someone donates millions because he wants something in return.”
Ramaphosa was different to Zuma, who represented neither the poor nor the rich.
“Zuma didn’t care about anyone else but himself, his family and the Guptas,” he added.
Maseti maintained that there was nothing wrong in Mbeki contesting a third term as ANC president in Polokwane because the ANC presidency had no term limit.
“A narrative was created through propaganda to say he wanted to extend his third term as president of South Africa, which was not true because the constitution did not allow that.”
Maseti said before Zuma stood against Mbeki, the ANC leadership election – especially the top six – was arranged to avoid a conflict within the party.
He cited the case of Mbeki and Chris Hani who were supposed to run for ANC deputy president in the early ’90s, but Walter Sisulu was elected as a compromised candidate instead.
A leader who wanted to be elected had to meet the branches informally to indirectly sell himself without saying that he was contesting for leadership. Leadership contestations were shunned in the ruling party – a tradition that developed during years of exile to keep the party united.
After the unbanning of the ANC, branches and provincial structures were allowed to lobby one another at elective conferences about who should be additional members of the national executive committee.