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The weekly politics report: Phala Phala, Eswatini still burning issues

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Graphic: Wade Geduldt / African News Agency (ANA) – A political matter that is expected to dominate the week is the nomination process by ANC branches. Tallying is under way and later in the week, the party has to announce how the candidates vying for the top six positions have fared in branches.

By Sihle Mavuso

As expected, the Phala Phala scandal, which has bogged down President Cyril Ramaphosa in the past few months, has dominated the news in the past week and the scandal will continue to be an albatross around his neck.

Some political analysts even predict that the scandal will lead to Ramaphosa’s ousting when the ANC convenes to elect new leaders next month at Nasrec in Gauteng. They predict the scandal will not only weaken Ramaphosa, it will also expose the weaknesses in state institutions like the Hawks, the South African Revenue Service, the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Reserve Bank. Their failure to act against Ramaphosa despite voluminous information from former spy boss, Arthur Fraser, suggests that they are not impartial.

Phala Phala scandal will again dominate the news cycle this week as Parliament will know from its three-member panel whether or not there are grounds to impeach Ramaphosa over the matter.

Another political matter that is expected to dominate the week is the nomination process by ANC branches. Tallying is under way and later in the week, the party has to announce how the candidates vying for the top six positions have fared in branches.

It is worth noting that announcements by provincial executive committees (PEC) amounts to nothing more than a mind game. The real power lies in branches and history has shown us that they often defy PECs.

It must be remembered how the PEC of the North West in 2007, ahead of the Polokwane conference, announced that the province was backing former President Thabo Mbeki, but branches backed former President Jacob Zuma who later won the race.

Phala Phala and ANC NEC Meeting

The Phala Phala scandal has weakened Ramaphosa and portrayed him as another ANC politician who cannot be trusted to lead honestly.

On Friday the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) started its three day meeting. Among the issues that were on the table was the party’s state of readiness for its elective conference and the report of the Integrity Commission on Phala Phala.

The latter dominated the proceedings with some members of the ANC reportedly baying for Ramaphosa’s blood, saying he must step aside for bringing the party into disrepute. As expected, Ramaphosa’s allies fought back, saying he has not been charged, so the step aside rule cannot be applied.

The debate over the matter revived the debate how the step aside resolution is selectively applied and how it has been abused to eliminate the likes of suspended secretary-general, Ace Magashule.

Coalition failure in Ekurhuleni

The ANC has been engaged in coalition talks with the EFF and the talks have fallen flat in the past week.

Primarily, the coalition talks are aimed at helping the ANC to reclaim the City of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane from the DA-led coalition.

However, it has turned out that the agreements reached have angered some regional leaders like Mzwandile Masina of Ekurhuleni. That was evident when the DA’s Tania Campbell was re-elected after the ANC and the EFF fielded different candidates.

Insiders claim that Masina is not in agreement with a deal where Ekurhuleni is surrendered to the EFF, leaving him out in the cold while Dada Morero runs Johannesburg.

His decision to nominate Jongiziwe Dlabathi to take on Campbell has angered the ANC in Gauteng to an extent that it has said in a press conference it will take action against him for defying its directive.

The unending ructions in the Zulu royal family

Despite King Misuzulu kaZwelithini fully taking over the throne, those who have been contesting the crown are not backing down.

Last week Sunday, November 6, a group of royal family members and members of the public gathered in Durban to show support to their “king” Prince Simakade. They insisted that he is the rightful king as he is the first one to enter the kraal at eNyokeni palace in August, which means the ancestors recognise him as king.

They vow that they will never back down from that.

Later last week, three senior Zulu royal family members issued a press statement slamming the recent coronation of Misizulu at the Moses Mabhida stadium as wasteful expenditure.

Prince Mbonisi, Prince Vulindlela and Prince Mathuba – all half-brothers of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini – stuck to their guns that Misuzulu (they call him Prince Misuzulu) is not king.

They insist that the royal family has deviated from the proud teachings of the late king and has allowed itself to be infiltrated, hence they have no rightful king.

Furthermore, they insist that the royal house never properly met to select the next king and that the one on the throne is a product of a rushed process to fulfil certain nefarious objectives.

Kenya and SA signed travel pact

On the African Continent, the most significant news is an announcement that South Africa and Kenya have inked a deal that will allow Kenyans to travel to South Africa visa-free.

This was announced when South African President Cyril Ramaphosa paid a state visit to the East African country led by President William Ruto.

Previously, Kenyans needed a visa to travel to South Africa. However, with the new developments, they can travel freely to South Africa for up to 90 days. To cushion South Africa against any abuse of the privilege, Ruto has said Kenya will be responsible for the deportation of its citizens who overstay.

The deal is aimed at opening up the entire African continent for all African people to travel freely and it has been hailed as a strategic move to boost trade among African states.

Political violence erupts in Eswatini – again

While the world was asleep, political violence in the tiny kingdom erupted again. As a result, the central and key industrial town of Manzini was left in ashes.

The violence erupted when public transport operators engaged in a protest.

Eswatini has been in political for almost two years now as protestors demand political reforms that will curtail the absolute powers of King Mswati III and his surrender to elected public representatives. In response to that, King Mswati has unleashed his security forces on the people and in retaliation, the so-called international solidarity forces are randomly killing officers and their sympathisers.

This has led to a vicious cycle of violence between security and those calling for political reforms and for a national dialogue that King Mswati III is stalling on.

Mavuso is a senior current affairs journalist at

This article was exclusively written for The African. To republish, see terms and conditions.