Institute for Global Dialogue political analyst Sanusha Naidu says the current situation in the ANC is a manifestation of years of factional fermentation.
As the ANC national executive committee (NEC) is engrossed in what insiders describe as “hot” debates over the future of party secretary-general Ace Magashule and Jacob Zuma’s refusal to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, a group of ANC supporters today march on Luthuli House, the party headquarters.
The group, supportive of the Magashule-Zuma faction, is calling for the dissolution of the NEC.
The contentious step aside rule affecting members facing criminal charges has been mentioned as among issues being discussed.
Rallying behind Magashule and Zuma, march organisers have called on ANC and Mass Democratic Movement supporters to join the protest, led by former lieutenant-general of the SA National Defence Force and a member of uMkhonto we Sizwe high command, Maomela Mojo Motau.
The march signals the depth of factional battles within the governing party.
A source in the NEC has described debates on uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association spokesman Carl Niehaus, Magashule and the role of the radical economic transformation group as “hot”.
Commenting on the ramifications of ANC factional battles, University of Johannesburg politics professor Siphamandla Zondi said: “Because the governing party is the central part of our democratic governance system, its cohesion and unity is very critical.
“When the governing party is not united, the centre of our democratic system is fractured. “When there is also acrimony within the governing party, it weakens the cohesion of our system.
“But that does not mean there should not be no contestation of positions and visions within these different political parties. If a party political contestation spills over into the state, it can cause us real problems.
“One just hopes inherent contradictions in a party as broad and as diverse as the ANC would be managed so they don’t undermine the cohesion of our democratic system.”
Zondi said the ANC’s step aside rule was seen by different factions within the ANC as “proxies for positions in relation to who should and who should not run the ANC”.
Institute for Global Dialogue political analyst Sanusha Naidu said the current situation in the ANC was a manifestation of years of factional fermentation.
“What is happening now should not be seen as something that has just emerged, because you are dealing with a phenomenon which has been fermenting for a long time.
“Seeing challenges and battlegrounds becoming much more visible and irreconcilable at times, tells us about a party going through its own existential dilemmas and the impact on the governance of the republic.
“It also tells us about the level of sustainability and consolidation of a party that needs to move forward.
“The showdown at this NEC is not just about the step aside rule, but also about issues based on control of the party and the battle for the soul of the ANC.”
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.