NDZ: The candidate with no plan

So, I ask: What does she offer? What is she saying? What is her message?

It isn’t hard to see that the reason why Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was installed as the chairperson of the African Union (AU) was to keep her at arm’s length in a way that wouldn’t compromise her esteem or give her access to influence here at home. After all, she was always set to be a proxy-president, on behalf of Jacob Zuma.

I suppose it’s not a bad game plan, and the candidate, lured by the promise of executive power, would be all too willing to play along. The same can be said of the former Mayor of Johannesburg, Parks Tau, who remains president of a forum called the United Cities and Local Governments. Just to clarify, Tau is the president of a forum of mayors, without being a mayor himself.

There is a resemblance in these two instances: It seems that the ANC is having Mr Tau wait in the wings, just as they did with NDZ, in a position that offers little more than the appearance of power.

The AU made perfect sense because not only was she in a position of sufficient reverence but she was also kept at a distance. This left her unable to build her own network of power. As such, she would be entirely reliant on Jacob Zuma’s network upon her return.

Hegemony works like that – it needs a network of support to sustain it; other entities in relation to it that give it power. So if she wants to be president, she better do what Zuma says.

The public mind is preoccupied with state capture. Similarly, there has been a capture of the ANC by Jacob Zuma. As such, and in a show of Zuma’s hegemony, the leagues are out in full force, backing NDZ without any official campaign launch and without any offer from the candidate herself.

So, I ask: What does she offer? What is she saying? What is her message?

Nothing, it seems.

While it is a shortcoming that all candidates in the race for the ANC’s top spot share, at least Ramaphosa and others opposing the Zuma dynasty think they can set the ANC back on the right track. They are offering to do as much. Although this is not a substantial offer in that it isn’t based on any measurable outcome or deliverable, it is indeed better than NDZ’s nothing.

Why would the candidate that seems most likely to win not have an offer, manifesto or plan?

For the same reason she was shipped off to preside over the AU. Quite simply, she doesn’t need an offer because the decision to have her extend Zuma’s rule was taken long ago and long before any ANC member or bloc was lobbied to cast a vote in her favour. The plan was put in place without a second thought for the will of ANC delegates, just like we saw in the 2016 Local General Elections with Thoko Didiza being named the ANC’s mayoral candidate in Tshwane.

NDZ was chosen to extend Zuma’s grip on power beyond his ten years in office. This is an alarming prospect considering the mountain of state capture revelations of late. It’s been ‘game-set-match’ from the word go and there is no opposition in the ANC that is strong enough to stop it. In fact, precisely because there are so many fractured opposition camps emerging, the likelihood of this preordained outcome is strengthened.

The fact is that all those opposing NDZ will fight for support from the same pool and therefore split that support amongst themselves, neither gaining enough to beat her.

– Anneke Scheepers is a former Politics and Cultural Studies lecturer and is currently the DA’s Gauteng Communications Manager. She writes in her personal capacity.