Tangled webs, murky depths

It is self-evident that the ANC presidential battle is spawning a web of intrigue underlining the arduous path to the election of a new leader of the party in December.

It is self-evident that the ANC presidential battle is spawning a web of intrigue underlining the arduous path to the election of a new leader of the party in December.

A host of events, from the hoax e-mail saga which ended in the dismissal of spy boss Billy Masetlha to ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma's corruption trial, have inexorably raised the stakes. This is because of the perceived links between these developments and the succession battle, and the extent to which they dovetail with the disputed claims of conspiracy against Zuma's ascent to ANC presidency.

If these events have muddied the waters, two other developments cast an even murkier picture. These relate to the hoax plot to assassinate Zuma and the "top secret" document claiming he was being bankrolled by Libyan and Angolan leaders to oust President Thabo Mbeki.

To say these shenanigans have the hallmarks of a dirty-tricks campaign is to state the obvious. Not so long ago, Cosatu president Willy Madisha became the target of similar campaigns, as did secretary-general, Zwelinzima Vavi.

Worrisome, though, are suspicions that state resources are being used to wage this dirty war. Given that intelligence networks have proved to be not beyond such machinations in the past, this spectre cannot be easily dismissed.

The ominous question is: How will these machinations impact on our democracy?

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