JUSTICE MALALA: ANC presidency race still wide open

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DIGGING IN Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane reckons the choice of the ANC president is a done deal Picture: Sizwe Ndingane
DIGGING IN Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane reckons the choice of the ANC president is a done deal Picture: Sizwe Ndingane

Is the chronically incompetent and Gupta-captured Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane on to something?

The man whose curriculum vitae was approved by the Guptas a month before he was appointed to the important mining portfolio by President Jacob Zuma said last week that it was a foregone conclusion who the next president of the ANC will be.

Speaking at a gala dinner boycotted by the mining industry body, the Chamber of Mines, Zwane weighed in on the ANC succession battle, saying: “We already know who will be president. It’s a done deal. We are not stressing. The policies won’t change. In January there will be new leadership and policies will remain the same.”

It’s a distressing thought that policies and practices of the party and the current administration will not change. It means the policies that have given us 27.7% unemployment, less than 1% economic growth, widening inequality and spiraling poverty will stay in place. It means state capture will remain the order of the day. And the theft of billions of rands from Eskom, Transnet and SAA and the possible pillaging of the Public Investment Corporation will not be investigated or prosecuted by the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority.

Zwane is a very close confidant of our dodgy President Jacob Zuma so what he says is what the Gupta-Zuma complex is saying. Remember that after Zwane nearly caused a banking crisis by lying about a nonexistent cabinet inquiry into South Africa’s banks last year, the president failed to reprimand him.

Also remember that the president has kept him in cabinet despite his disastrous incumbency at mineral resources (where he has turned the department into a village of the Free State) while there has been no investigation of his role in the theft of the Vrede dairy farm which paid for the infamous Gupta Sun City wedding.

Thus when Zwane smugly says the ANC presidency is a done deal it must mean Zuma is happy with the numbers. It means the Guptas can sigh with relief because the Zuma camp believes it’s got the election race in the bag and that their proxy, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, will win.

On Friday ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe sent letters to the ANC provincial leaders indicating how many delegates each province will have at the December national conference. KwaZulu-Natal remains the behemoth in this fight with 870 of the 4731
delegates.

Mpumalanga has surprised and shocked all factions by moving from fifth-largest province to second-largest, with 736 delegates. The chair-throwing Eastern Cape, once the largest and most influential province of the ANC, trails behind the leaders with 648 delegates.

In a straight fight, meaning that if provinces were voting as a bloc as happened largely in Polokwane in 2007 and in Mangaung in 2012, this would mean the Dlamini-Zuma ticket was ahead because it would have the support of KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Free State and Mpumalanga plus the leagues (women, youth and veterans).

This must be how Zwane and his colleagues at the Saxonwold shebeen are reading the delegate numbers. There is a fly in the ointment, though. KwaZulu-Natal is divided three ways: for Dlamini-Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa and Zweli Mkhize. It is not a united voting bloc. The Free State is similarly divided, as is the Eastern Cape and most others. The one solid voting bloc so far seems to be David Mabuza’s Mpumalanga ANC.

So the race is wide open. The next two-and-a-half months will see the most intense campaigning ever for an ANC presidency. The last bit of the dirty laundry used to besmirch good men and women is about to be hung out.

Unless, perhaps, we should read something else into Zwane’s smug words. Mpumalanga has been flirting strongly with the Zweli Mkhize campaign.

If Mabuza flips towards Mkhize decisively, he will bring the so-called Premier League with him, plus elements of other provinces. That would conclusively destroy the Dlamini-Zuma ticket.

Which brings up the question: Was Dlamini-Zuma a mere feint, a distraction, while Mkhize was the original Premier League candidate? Or, as I keep hearing, Mkhize will strike a deal with Ramaphosa and finally pull the power out of the Premier League.

It’s all on the table. But a friend whispers to me: “Jacob Zuma never loses.”

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