Graphic: Timothy Alexander – The City of Johannesburg’s coalition has collapsed, three ANC-run provinces have reshuffled cabinets and former President Jacob Zuma’s jail term ends.
By Sihle Mavuso
It was yet another eventful week where South Africans saw the final collapse of the coalition in the City of Johannesburg, three ANC-run provinces reshuffling their cabinets and former President Jacob Zuma finally freed from parole shackles.
ANC slates and nominations
The race within the ANC ahead of the party’s watershed elective conference in December this year still dominates the news cycle and that would be the case until then.
That is because unlike in the past elective conferences where two or three slates used to vie for power, this time around there is as many as five slates doing rounds.
One of the most prominent slates is the one led by the incumbent party President, Cyril Ramaphosa. In it, Paul Mashatile is punted for the deputy president position which is currently held by David Mabuza.
On the other hand, another slate is led by Dr Zweli Mkhize and this slate has Mashatile as its deputy as well. By the look of things, this slate is the one that will give the Ramaphosa slate a run for its money.
Previously formidable, the so-called RET Forces are going to this conference limping after sharp differences over candidates. When everyone thought that Dr Nkoszana Dlamini Zuma was this time around not going to throw her hat into the ring, former president Zuma marshalled his forces around her.
Already, some RET Forces proponents have rallied behind Mkhize and his slate while others are still undecided on who to back at the moment. That also came at a time when it emerged that Dlamini-Zuma was planning to join forces with ANC NEC member, Lindiwe Sisulu and fight to lead the ANC as women.
Sisulu was among the other candidate’s RET Forces wanted to rally behind until Zuma stepped in. The other candidate they wanted was Ace Mgashule, who unfortunately is now out of the race due to the step-aside rule of the ANC which bars members facing serious charges in court from contesting for the position.
However, this is not the end as in the coming weeks we would likely see lobbyists from various corners doing horse trading and changing their slates. So, in the end, Mashatile would be dropped by one of the two slates carrying his name right now.
Dr Mpho Phalatse hysteria, ActionSA and the future of coalitions
Although it has been a long time coming, the collapse of the DA-led coalition in the City of Johannesburg and the heated exchange after that raised eyebrows.
One of the reasons is because the country expects a national coalition government in 2024 as no party is expected to gain an outright majority. The collapse of the DA coalition in Johannesburg left its former mayor, Dr Mpho Phalatse in hysterics. The DA blamed its coalition partners like ActionSA for the collapse.
ActionSA fired back, saying the DA was not willing to accommodate a request to give the position of the Speaker to the IFP, one of the most loyal partners in the coalition.
On Friday, ActionSA said it would soon meet to look at the future of coalitions. That could be a sign that the party is looking at dumping the DA, a party many still feel is arrogant and it does not treat its coalition partners as equal parties.
Zuma’s parole ends and his political ambitions
On Friday the department of correctional services announced that former President Jacob Zuma was now a free man after completing his 15 months sentence for contempt of the Constitutional Court, which had directed him to testify at the Zondo commission.
That left Zuma and his supporters jubilant as it has freed him from the shackles of the medical parole conditions that prevented him from attending political gatherings and other public engagements.
But even before that announcement was made official, Zuma had attended a branch meeting of the ANC in Nkandla and he was nominated to be its delegate number one at the December conference.
Zuma’s will prevailed as the Msholozi branch (his branch in Nkandla) nominated Dlamini Zuma to take on Ramaphosa and that was what Zuma had always wished for. Again, the branch nominated Zuma to run for the position of national chairperson and he accepted.
The end of the parole confinement means that Zuma will now have plenty of time to move around the country and mobilise for support. However, there are still questions about whether he will be allowed to take part in the conference due to the step-aside resolution that bars members with cases in court from taking part in conferences and even contesting for positions.
Zuma is currently facing corruption charges emanating from the arms deal of the late 1990s. The dilemma is that he was charged long before the step-aside rule of the ANC came into effect and he may use that to challenge it as the law is not applied retrospectively.
Cabinet reshuffles in GP, Limpopo and Mpumalanga
Not to be completely divorced from the December conference and the factional fights associated with it, three provinces run by the ANC engaged in haste cabinet reshuffles.
The first reshuffle was in Gauteng where the provincial chairperson was. Panyaza Lesufi took over as the province’s Premier from David Makhura who is now jobless. Lesufi took over and reshuffled his provincial executive.
The other provincial government reshuffle was that of Limpopo, Stanley Chupu Mathabatha who announced changes to his provincial cabinet. One of the biggest casualties was Dickson Masemola, a former deputy provincial chairperson.
Masemola had in June this year challenged Mathabatha for the position of provincial chairperson and he lost. So, it was given that at some point, Mathabatha would fire him and others in other to pave spaces for his backers.
Mathabatha’s cabinet reshuffle has been met with murmurs as some view it as a way of ensuring a tight grip before he moves to the national office of the ANC where he is on the slate of Ramaphosa as national chairperson.
Although expected, Mpumalanga Premier, Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane reshuffled her cabinet to accommodate Mandla Msibi whom she previously fired because he had been charged with murder.
Msibi, who is the provincial ANC treasurer was previously the MEC for agriculture.
His comeback is meant to strengthen the Ramaphosa lobby in the province as it wants to ensure that it has the upper hand.
Mavuso is a journalist at www.iol.co.za and writes on current affairs in South Africa and parts of the SADC region.