It is becoming clearer by the day that the ANC has now moved beyond the point where it can be rehabilitated as a trusted, progressive national movement.

It is also clear that the prospect of a general election in two years’ time, when the ANC could potentially get less than half of the votes, is occupying ANC leaders’ minds – thus the new efforts to prepare for coalition forming.

One of the documents now before the ANC states that future coalition partners should be persuaded that the ANC’s policies and programmes are best and that they should rather join the ANC as members.

And in another, unrelated development, EFF leader Julius Malema told an interviewer last week that if the ANC were serious about radical economic transformation and land expropriation without compensation, there would be no reason for the EFF to exist and that it would dissolve into the ANC.

On the weekend, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza said he has undertaken to “bring Malema back into the ANC myself”. The EFF in return called him a kleptocrat.

If it does happen that the ANC gets less than 50 percent of the vote in 2019, it would likely still be the biggest party and would thus want to go into a coalition with either the EFF or the DA to form a government.

The outcome of the present battle for the heart of the ANC could influence the choice of coalition partner and the two smaller parties’ electoral strength could also play a role.

But as things stand now, the ANC is steadily moving closer to the EFF. There is no difference between the EFF’s policies and the Zuma populists’ demands for state control of the economy, including the banks, and the nationalisation of privately owned land.

If South Africa is indeed going to be governed by an ANC/EFF coalition after 2019, the country will be firmly on the same track that led to Venezuela’s bankruptcy and instability.

The most likely scenario would be that service delivery would be severely curtailed because the state coffers would be much emptier; the currency would collapse; investors would flee in droves; and the poor would get poorer and angrier. Only a small political elite would benefit.

The longest serving minister in the Cabinet, Jeff Radebe, said on Sunday at the release of an ANC discussion document prepared for its June policy conference that the ANC “must act urgently to restore its moral character to win back the trust of the people”.

The document is refreshingly honest about the party’s many failures, but it is hard to see that it would actually do something to correct these while it is at war with itself and pulling in different directions.

There are many senior ANC figures that are very critical of President Jacob Zuma and his cabal, but still believe in the “idea of the ANC”; that still hope that a post-Zuma ANC could revive itself and lead the country successfully. An ANC 2.0.

Dream on, comrades. The point of no return has been reached.

It’s like an old wooden floor. If there were only a few rotten planks here and there, one could treat the floor and replace some pieces, but if the rot has infected most planks, the floor can’t be saved.

The rot is too deep and wide, comrades. Just read the newspapers of the last few days: scandal after scandal at Sassa, Prasa, SAA, Eskom, SARS, SABC and elsewhere in the civil service and state-owned companies; Cabinet ministers like Bathabile Dlamini and Faith Muthambi acting like they preside over a banana republic.

Here is another sign of the times: the demand from the ANC Youth League that the national clown, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, be sent to Parliament and given a Cabinet position.

Let’s suppose that the ANC decides at its December elective conference that its new president should also be the president of the country – if the ANC wants a chance to win in 2019, that’s exactly what they would have to do.

How on earth would this leader, be it Cyril Ramaphosa, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or whoever else, dismantle the vast networks of patronage in government on all three levels, state-owned companies, the civil service and the private sector state capturers?

How would she/he be able to contain the traditional and rural Zuma strongholds without triggering a palace revolution?

How would this leader regain control over the state security and intelligence services, the police, the Hawks, the national prosecuting authority and SARS, all firmly in the Zuma inner circle right now?

Too many people simply benefit too much from the Zuma-ANC’s largesse for there to be a radical turnaround.

Perhaps we’ll have more of an idea of which way the wind is blowing after the ANC’s June conference.

At this point, yet another breakaway from the ANC is probably unlikely, but not out of the question.

If it does happen and the new party is as viable as the last breakaway group, the EFF, new possibilities for other coalitions in 2019 may emerge.