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Excited supporters cheer for South African President Jacob Zuma at a final African National Congress (ANC) election rally in the Soweto township of Johannesburg, South Africa Sunday May 4, 2014. South African political parties held final campaign rallies Sunday ahead of elections on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 that are likely to see the ruling ANC return to power with a smaller majority due to voters disaffected by corruption in government and economic inequality. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
(AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

An article describing recent hijinks within the African National Congress (ANC) as a “rebellion” is fatuous, to say the least.

The article is surprisingly naïve, given that its author is a highly-knowledgeable political scientist and a long-serving, savvy member of the ANC. This is obvious from the first sentence which focuses only on the last nine “tumultuous” months of the Zuma administration. Jacob Zuma’s rapacious and corrupt skulduggery can be traced back on a scale of decades. Moreover, Zuma was not “swept into power” as President of the ANC by overwhelming support from rank and file members of COSATU and the South African Communist Party (SACP) – it was through a political conspiracy instigated and implemented by an oligarchy within an already-corrupt Tripartite Alliance. The members of a corrupt cabal decided that they could get more from Zuma’s kleptocratic trough, than they were getting from Mbeki’s. Mbeki’s attempt to cling to the ANC presidency was a last-gasp effort of a once highly-respected leader who had apparently lost interest in the poorest of the poor and may have become unwilling or unable to satisfy the greed of incompetent kleptocrats, while he hopelessly pursued Pan-Africanism and black nationalism.

Make no mistake about it, Mbeki’s criminal failure in dealing with the threats of HIV/AIDS and his disproportionate interest in Pan-African matters (including propping up the genocidal dictatorial leader of Zimbabwe) more than warranted his removal both as leader of the ANC and the country. But, the reality was that Mbeki’s political assassination was nothing more than two ruthless politicians interested in personal ideology (Mbeki) and sheer greed (Zuma) fighting to the ‘death’. It had nothing to do with “disciplined members” of a reputable party seeking to help the oppressed masses to become self-respecting and self-sufficient members of a non-racial society. In a matter of months, Mbeki was removed from the pinnacle of political power in Africa and effectively became an historical footnote.

The author’s description of the process that transpired using ‘praiseworthy’ words such as “outvote, outflank, and outmanoeuvre”, is disingenuous at best.

To suggest that Zuma could stay on as President of South Africa after 2019 is simply poor scholarship, since the South African Constitution limits an individual to two full terms. Zuma may have delusions of grandeur, but he is not so arrogant to believe that he can amend the Constitution.

Suggesting that the SACP’s motives for removing Zuma are justified by his involvement in state capture is also disingenuous. The Communist mini-oligarchy in this case is acting because it has correctly discovered that it has ceased being the puppeteer of the Tripartite Alliance. It is fighting a rear-guard action to find a new marionette who is ideologically similar to Mbeki.

The author cites a list of ‘powerful’ individuals (Ramaphosa, Mantashe, Mkhize and important foundations) and some of the paleo-ANC members who retain dignity, honesty and respect as a ”groundswell of opposition” within the ANC. The most senior of these ‘overwhelmers’ is a BEE billionaire tainted by his undisputed association with the Marikana massacre. Regardless, this “rebellion” was vaporized in a matter of days by Zuma and fellow kleptocrats, described as “loyalists” by the author. The author then goes on to characterize the retention of ‘efficiently corrupt’, incompetent, parasitic ministers by implying that this is the norm “elsewhere in the world”. Yes, there are such individuals. But there are also stellar examples of senior leaders (Thatcher, Nixon, Agnew and almost Clinton) who have been removed for much less egregious behaviour.

The author then ‘recalls’ the Mbeki recall, writing that Zuma “supporters” are “sit[ting] on the fence”. Why not call a geotome a shovel and replace “supporters” with kleptocratic sycophants and “sitting on fences” with poised between troughs of public funds?

Staying true to form, the author closes with: “Opponents who wish to remove him will have to organise a coalition”. Once again, please cease fannying about. What may (but probably will not) happen is simply one corrupt cabal will instigate yet another conspiracy to replace the existing one which controls an even more profoundly corrupt and uncaring oligarchy who control a once highly-respected political party that abandoned the marginalized oppressed masses more than a decade ago.

These largely very young and very old victims will have to emulate the desolate masses during the US Great Depression and sing: “The rich get rich and the poor get children.  In the meantime, in between time, ain’t we got fun”.

The even greater tragedy for South Africa is that the parties in opposition offer little in the way of improved, honest, principled and effective leadership.

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Professor Tim Crowe is a descendant of oppressed Irish freedom-fighters from the United States working class. He is a first generation university graduate, non-settler immigrant alumnus, Elected Fellow and emeritus (40 years’ service) professor at the University of Cape Town. He is a Ph.D.-educated expert on evolutionary biology (covering everything from ‘race’ to deeply rooted evolutionary trees) and conservation biology (especially regarding sustainable and economically viable use of wildlife). He has published nearly 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers/books and is regarded as the world’s leading authority on game birds (chickens, turkeys, guinea fowls, etc.). About 70 of his graduated students have published their research and established themselves in their own right, including four professors.
  • David_de_Jong

    Tim’s analysis of why the SACP, COSATU and ANCYL backed JZ is way off. It was simply a matter of Mbeki being highly critical of the left and a well publicised rift with them. They believed that JZ would be more accommodating to their policies. As for Cyril and Marikana, it’s become a popular myth that he was responsible based on his e-mail demanding action. In fact, he was referring to the senseless hacking to death of the security guards days before the Marikana protest gathering.

  • Bruce

    The ANC is the ultimate poison. Mbeki started it with his AIDS and “Everything’s okay in Zimbabwe” nonsense. But when the African Peer Review Mechanism crows came home to roost. Then it didn’t suit him anymore. A colleague of mine flew home with him from a project in Ethiopia.
    He wasn’t keen to sit next to a ” white guy who was working to fix the problems.”. He wasn’t at all.

  • v_3

    “Keith Gottschalk is an ANC member…”