Stanley Uys is an insightful and exceptional South African journalist who has kindly given me permission to repost his article, Is the DA ‘edging closer’ to the ANC? Considering the recent changes in the highest echelons of our government, the DA acting more like the ANC, COSATU ruffling its feathers and the introduction of AGANG, this makes for an interesting read into what may happen in our near future:
South Africa needs a new political alignment to accommodate domestic and global change and reflect the realities of the post-apartheid society. The question now is not whether, but how the new order will be achieved.
The ANC has reshuffled its “top six” to leave out anti-Zumaites like Mathews Phosa and Kgalema Motlanthe. The “top six” now are President Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, national chairperson Baleka Mbete and deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte.
On their side, appears to be an effective majority in the 81-member National Executive Committee. Cyril Ramaphosa appears to have come from nowhere, but he was a long-time trade union leader, member of the NEC, and head of the ANC disciplinary committee which delivered Julius Malema’s head on a plate to Zuma.
Regarding the “new order”: are the “top six” of a common mind”? The only ready answer is that Zuma is a consummate street politician committed to staying in power, manoeuvring the forces opposed to him, putting Zulu ethnicity and loyalty way ahead of merit or ability, and acapacity to use fear and patronage to create disarray among those wanting to oust him.
The strong man who holds it all together is Gwede Mantashe who is indispensable to Zuma, and yet is also his own man.
Recently, one of my colleagues asked a member of the “top six” whether Zuma would leave the ANC next year when national elections are held. He replied cautiously – no, not yet. Does this mean later? Zuma’s five year term as SA’s president expires next year, which would be a convenient moment to move him out.
If he thought it was in his long-term survival interests to manoeuvre a sympathetic president into office, and once again evade the lengthy fraud prosecutions that have dogged him over these past 12 years – well, that would help to make up Zuma’s mind. Besides, he is 70.
In spite of obfuscation, three scenarios approximately can be outlined in ANC politics. One is the continuing turbulence among youth movements which clamoured for Zuma’s removal. Julius Malema, broke but undaunted, is still vocal, scorning what he calls the ZANC (ZumaANC) with its “right-wing, neo-liberal, capitalist agenda.” Vocally, Malema is unstoppable, peppering his speeches with references to Che Guevara, Lenin, Castro, Lumumba, Chavez, Mugabe and the Bolsheviks, like any teenage university student.
Malema has the remnants of once unorganised followers who would like him to lead them on a plunder fest of the white man’s resources. He would be closer to racial fascism than the familiar left-wing politicals, although he uses left-wing jargon and slogans.
The ANC has demolished the entire support structure of the ANC Youth League. It can be rebuilt, as indeed the dismembered anti-Zuma funder-groups can, but presently frustrated anti-Zumaites just mill around, some boastful of what they intend to do, others dumbstruck.
Neither the former nor present ANC Youth Leagues (kingmakers in the early 1990s) appeal to the several million so-called “born-frees” – the post-1994 generation. If SA has a future, they say, they are it.
In the second scenario, present signs point to the post-Mangaung ANC being in a negotiating, rather than eviction, mood. The ANC could easily offer Zuma an attractive severance package (including absolution from the corruption charges) to satisfy him politically and financially. Hopefully, such an ANC move would have more success removing Zuma than Zanu-PF had with Mugabe.
Perhaps the corruption indictment, long forgotten by many in SA, but not by some diligent prosecutors, judges and politicians, will be invoked – when the time is ripe to foreclose.
Ramaphosa then could take over (although there would be challengers in back rooms), and reconstruction of the ANC could begin – literally a cleaning of the Augean stables, a super-human effort. Ramaphosa’s record as a trade unionist-turned politician-turned millionaire no doubt is scattered with potential land-mines, but he will have a team to defuse them.
So where will “cosying-up” to the ANC take the DA? It would have started with Helen Zille’s “Africanisation” of the party (more black faces to win more black votes). Then in her most innovative move, Helen Zille seemed ready to offer the DA leadership to Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, although as UCT rector Ramphele was actively disliked. Few tears were shed when after some 10 talks over six months she abruptly broke off coalition negotiations with the DA.
Ramphele nevertheless has talents. Some say she should have opted for a civil society formation, not politics, and become a small but important player in a future African Social Democratic Party (incorporating the DA, and elements of the ANC, UDF, ID, etc.). Unhappily, the Open Society Foundation for SA (OSFSA) is asking what happened to the money it handed over to Ramphele’s NGO, the Citizens Movement – as part of a planned R4-million donation.
The dispute over a DA-ANC “coalition” is between the SA Institute of Race Relations and the DA. Zille is frank that narrow-based BEE cost R500-billion “to transfer lucrative shares to a small number of politically connected individuals. These individual have become very rich without creating new enterprises…”
Nevertheless, the DA is responding positively to a newer ANC “Broad-Based” BEE, approaching it in “a nuanced way”. Each BBBEE initiative “is analysed on a case-by-case basis, supporting some and rejecting others”. The positive features which the DA sees in basic BBBEE legislation will allow the DA to try to “improve” BBEEE. So far though the DA has lost the debate on the existing race-based definition of “beneficiaries” (blacks).
In November 2011, Frans Cronje, the SAIRR’s Deputy CEO, wrote: “In a number of important areas, the policy positions of the DA and the ANC are virtually indistinguishable. This has significant implications for a realignment of South African politics. It has dangerous implications for the future of SA”.
The political reality is that the real political opposition in SA (part of Cosatu and AMCU, the militant trade union formed at Marikana) lies to the left of the ANC and not within it, as at present. These dividing lines of the new political order will run through the middle of every existing grouping or institution.
The SAIRR is upset by the DA’s approach that the DA can “improve” BEE, make it “better”. Cronje’s view on (BEE) empowerment, equity and land reform is that “the ANC’s policy cocktail is fundamentally and economically unsound and unworkable. Implementing it more efficiently and less corruptly cannot change that”.
Here comes the nub: the SAIRR is correct if judged on principles, but it does not have to fight elections, whereas Helen Zille’s strategy is much more viable for a political party. This leaves unanswered the question of what happens to the DA if Zille can’t pull off her strategy.
The SAIRR’s chief CEO, John Kane-Berman, endorsed Cronje’s views, writing (May 27, 2013): “…a genuine alternative (to apartheid) entails getting rid of racial laws, not endorsing them and then tweaking them to work better, as some of the DA proposals suggest.
“The party promises ‘to restore people’s faith in black economic empowerment’ (BEE). It wants to ‘streamline’ and ‘alter,’ ‘not discard,’ the BEE scorecard. This is reminiscent of the old United Party trying to have it both ways with such formulations as separate development with justice.”
Kane-Berman urges the DA: “There are some things about which liberalism needs to be uncompromising. One is defence of the rule of law and equality before the law. Another is defence of individual rights, including property rights. A third is that free exercise of these rights may be curtailed by the State only when absolutely unavoidable. And a fourth is that individuals should be treated as such rather than as members of particular classes, or collectives, or races”.
The implication is that the DA is tampering with these principles as it embarks on its “nuanced approach” the ANC. To return to Cronje, he wrote:
“In the year before he died… Lawrence Schlemmer (noted academic and pollster) suggested that a future political realignment of SA politics could take the shape of a DA-ANC alliance standing against a left-wing movement of some sort or another. It is possible we are now seeing the beginnings of this realignment…”
“It is possible, therefore, that as the DA morphs into a super-efficient version of the ANC, it will attract more black support. The ANC may at the same time lose the poor black youth to a radical left-wing movement. This movement probably already is present within the alliance. If it ever materialises as a distinct entity, it may seek to implement a radical set of policy proposals such as land confiscation, which many in the present leadership of the ANC oppose.
“South African politics, therefore, emerge as an ANC-DA alliance punting empowerment, equity and land reform to solve S.A.’s social problems. The new party will be in competition with the radical left, which will favour more direct economic interventions, perhaps going as far as the confiscation of assets…
“This is a classic lose-lose scenario in which SA has no major political players promoting ideas that can actually work. The battle of ideas, at least in the political sphere, becomes a battle of bad and worse ideas”.
Zille will reject this, arguing that the DA has shown that it can govern better than the ANC, the key contest in SA. This is the DA’s most powerful weapon and why it goes on winning votes. To win this contest you need to put the best person in the job, regardless of race/ethnicity etc. So BBBEE unravels. Bye, bye blackbird!
There is of course also the doomsday scenario: that radical young blacks will determine where SA is heading, and with no more than a leader found along the roadside they will plunder the assets of whites.
Kane-Berman, Cronje and Schlemmer appear to anticipate possibly an emerging coalition between elements of the ANC, DA, Agang (Ramphele), ID (Patricia de Lille), UDM (Bantu Holomisa), etc. The first chance of coalition politics, however, may not come in next year’s elections, but in the 2019 elections. This could be D-Day for ANC hegemony in the country.