President Jacob Zuma moves towards consolidating his grip on power after winning yet another bid to oust him, this time from within the ranks of the ANC national executive committee (NEC), among them some senior cabinet ministers.
He was thrown a lifeline by the NEC, the highest decision-making body between conferences, when it shot down calls for him to step down during a marathon meeting at St George’s Hotel in Irene, which ended on Monday night.
While some said the president’s support within the powerful NEC seemed weakened, political analysts warned that Zuma wielded enough power to wiggle himself out of trouble, and that he wouldn’t go down without a fight.
Political analyst Dr Mcebisi Ndletyana said the ANC came out of the NEC meeting looking “extremely irrational and their behaviour inexplicable”.
The ruling party, he said, couldn’t explain why Zuma should remain president.
“One thing certain about Zuma is that he will not back down. He will use the entire spectrum of power given to him as president to protect himself. He’s not going anywhere,” said Ndletyana, adding that divisions in the ANC had reached crisis proportions.
Political analyst Dumisani Hlophe said the reason Zuma kept winning the battles against him could be the fact that “he understands his power and position within the movement and is using that to the maximum”.
He lashed out at the “personification of South African politics”.
“The challenge we’re facing is that, as a society, we’ve fallen into this analysis of individuals while the challenges facing South Africa are structural”. Those, he said, pertained to inequality, poverty and landlessness, among others.
The capitalist dimensions in the country were hampering efforts to address the challenges, Hlophe added.
“There’s elite contestation of political power within the ANC, but also across political parties such as the DA and the EFF, hence you would hear them calling on Zuma to step down. That’s the mark of our politics in South Africa,” he said.
“My main disdain is that the political discourse is very, very flawed. It disregards what matters the most,” added Hlophe.