Angry words, cross swords

The decision by the National Prosecuting Authority to charge ANC president Jacob Zuma has created a conundrum for the party's newly elected national executive committee.

The decision by the National Prosecuting Authority to charge ANC president Jacob Zuma has created a conundrum for the party's newly elected national executive committee.

The new ANC leadership will also have to face the reality that the NPA decision will accentuate the chasms that developed within the party during the leadership contest between Zuma and former ANC president Thabo Mbeki.

The reaction by well-known Zuma supporters including the ANC Youth League, Cosatu and the SACP to the NPA decision have so far shown that, instead of healing the divisions within the party, they will be accentuated.

Their reactions have indicated that the NPA decision and its timing have the potential to turn Zuma into a martyr; and secondly, entrenching the view that the NPA's actions are part of a well-orchestrated campaign to deny him the chance to be the country's president. This is the view of Zuma's supporters - who proved to be 60percent of the voting delegates at the Polokwane conference.

It might be tempting to dismiss the assertions by Zuma's supporters on this matter as political posturing. but the reality is that they have so far proved to be part of the real politik that led to Zuma's resounding victory over Mbeki in the ANC leadership contest.

This means that while the ANC leadership have the prerogative of dismissing the utterances of those against the NPA decision, it would be hamstrung by the reality that Zuma was brought into power by a significant number of party members who believe that there are still people who will use whatever means within their power to stop his progress to the Union Buildings.

Contrasted with this will be the view of ANC members who do not believe that Zuma is the right candidate for the country's presidency. The reality is that these individuals, many believe this includes Mbeki, will welcome any obstacle created in Zuma's path.

These contrasting views will in all probability play themselves out in any discussion about unifying the party.

The ANC leadership will need Solomon's wisdom to wiggle out of this conundrum.

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