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The wrap: South African political report

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Graphic: Political fallouts across the spectrum dominated this week and it looks likely that more fallout will come in the week ahead, the writer says.

By Sihle Mavuso

Political fallouts across the spectrum dominated this week and it looks likely that more fallout will come in the week ahead.

The first major political fallout was between the ANC and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). To a lesser extent, there was a fallout between the governing ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) when the latter announced that it was ready to contest the 2024 general elections.

The other fallout with major implications is the one between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and some of its coalition partners in the City of Johannesburg. That saw the DA losing the position of Speaker to Colleen Makhubele, of the Congress of the People who was backed by smaller parties and the ANC.

The ANC – COSATU – SACP fallout

Early this week the elective congress of COSATU got under way in Johannesburg, as per the established tradition, the ANC sent a representative to give a message of support.

That representative was Gwede Mantashe, the national chairperson of the ANC who is ironically a former unionist. Mantashe got more than what he had bargained for when angry workers booed him off stage.

The trigger for the booing was the government’s refusal to implement a three-year wage agreement which was signed with public sector unions in 2018. The workers felt that the ANC no longer cared about workers and it was trying to implement a neo-liberal agenda.

Mantashe tried the following day to go back and address the workers and he was booed again. He then abandoned attempts to address the conference.

COSATU has since elected new leaders and these leaders have been tasked with ensuring that the SACP contests state power in 2024 and its membership will back it. That will weaken the ANC further as it is already clear that it will not get an outright majority in two year’s time.

What could happen is that the SACP will only come back to work with the ANC as a coalition partner, thus being able to ram through its pro-workers and socialist agenda it has been preaching for years while inside the ANC and completely ignored.

DA ousted in Joburg after fallout with minority parties and more setbacks to follow

Another major fallout of the week was the one between the DA and parties like COPE and Patriotic Alliance.

Seeing an opportunity to reclaim the City of Johannesburg, the ANC worked with other smaller parties to snatch the position of Speaker. That set the motion for the removal of the DA-led coalition in the metro.

The ousting of the DA has been long coming. Minority parties have always been complaining that the DA was arrogant and behaving as if it had an outright majority and it was doing them a favour by giving them some key positions as members of the mayoral committee (MMCs).

ActionSA, even though it never supported the removal of the Speaker, was always vocal about that. During renegotiations of the coalition, it wanted the position of the Speaker to be given to the IFP – and the DA blatantly refused.

When Makhubele was fielded, the DA fielded its own candidate who eventually got no support from minority parties and lost the contest.

This is just the beginning of the end for the DA if it does not mend its way and reconcile with minority parties. It would soon lose Ekurhuleni and Tshwane. It may also lose Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in the Eastern Cape which it recently reclaimed from the ANC with the help of the same minority parties it is now starring down upon.

KwaZulu-Natal ANC snubs Zuma and family ahead of elective conference

Ahead of the December elective conference of the ANC, KwaZulu-Natal pulled the biggest upset when it defied a directive by former President Jacob Zuma to them to back Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for the ANC’s Presidency.

Instead, the province overwhelmingly backed Dr Zweli Mkhize to take on ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa who is aiming for a second term. This is despite that Mkhize is still in the Pretoria high court trying to clear the Digital Vibes hurdle that is before him.

Other than that this was not expected, the province’s decision to defy Zuma means the end of the so-called Zuma dynasty and its stranglehold of the province. It means that Zuma no longer has the influence he used to enjoy in the province during the peak of his popularity and power.

In as much as the general members of the party in the province is still intensely sympathetic to him as he continues with his legal battles, they are ready to defy him on leadership issues.

Phala Phala, the Ramaphosa scandal that just won’t go away

The Phala Phala scandal is not going away despite attempts by Ramaphosa and his supporters trying to quash it at every turn.

Early this week, Professor Richard, the Professor who was roped into the three-member panel to look at whether there is a case to impeach Ramaphosa or not.

Due to his pro-Ramaphosa views and commentary, Calland’s inclusion in the parliamentary panel drew outrage. Eventually, he pulled out of the committee.

This has left Ramaphosa vulnerable as it means he has lost a panel member who would have surely voted in his favour if the panel could not reach a consensus.

However, Ramaphosa got a smaller breather on the matter when on Wednesday the ANC voted to reject setting up an ad-hoc committee to look at the matter. That means that most ANC members are still prepared to shield him just as they did with former President Jacob Zuma.

But then Ramaphosa made things worse when on Thursday he appeared before Parliament to answer questions related to the scandal.

He tried to shift the blame to the head of the presidential protection unit who he claimed he reported the matter and he expected him to take up the matter with the SAPS.

This was another cheap shot by Ramaphosa to avoid accountability and survey it will fail once again – the scandal is here to stay.

The arrest of Mosebenzi Zwane and other Vrede farm suspects

Former mineral resources minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, became another high-profile figure to be arrested based on the evidence which was presented to the Zondo commission which was probing allegations of state capture during the Zuma presidency.

Zwane was arrested for his alleged role in the flattering Vrede dairy project in the Free State which happened under his watch as the MEC for agriculture. Appearing in court, Zwane said he was happy that after years of vilification, the matter was in court and given an opportunity to defend himself.

On the other side, the arrest sent shivers down the spine of the RET Forces which believe that Zwane’s arrest is a dry run for arresting more of their members who are opposed to having Ramaphosa as the President of the ANC and the country again.

Julius Malema and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi’s acquittal

In other news that dominated the week that has just fallen was the acquittal of EFF leader, Julius Malema and Commissar Mbuyiseni Ndlovu.

The two were prosecuted for allegedly assaulting a police officer during the funeral of the late Winnie Madikizela Mandela in April 2018 at Fourways cemetery park in Johannesburg.

The acquittal is likely to be used by EFF supporters to bolster their claim that white officers in the SAPS are out to get their leaders. It will be remembered that Malema has been dragged to court for allegedly encouraging people to invade vacant state-owned land.

Mavuso is a journalist at and writes on current affairs in South Africa and parts of the SADC region.

This article is original to the The African. To republish, see terms and conditions.