Is ANC unity call yet another Zuma ploy?

President Jacob Zuma
President Jacob Zuma
Image: REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

 If Mabuza’s unity ticket flies, what impact will it have?

What game are those ANC leaders calling for unity playing? In particular, what is David Mabuza, the Mpumalanga leader pushing for unity, trying to achieve?

His province held a provincial general council (PGC) last week and some delegates decided not to nominate President Jacob Zuma’s successor but wrote “unity” on their forms.

During that PGC, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa received 117 votes while Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma got 123 votes, while 223 votes went to “unity” for the position of the party’s president.

Mabuza has been preaching unity, saying ANC members need to elect leaders that will bring unity after the conference next week. He argues that slates will further divide and kill the governing party.

Mabuza’s wish is everyone’s dream but the dynamics in the ANC may not allow for that.

There is currently a proposal on the table that members have to adopt at the conference before voting for leaders begins. It is a call for an increase of ANC top officials from six to seven or even nine. These proposal would see the ANC with two deputy presidents as well as two deputy secretaries-general.

Should the proposal be adopted, members will nominate additional officials from the floor.

But will an enlarged top structure be able to function and bring unity? That may be impossible because ANC leaders do not have the same interests. The dominant factions, those of Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma, differ sharply on how they would fix the ANC. Their supporters have already shown their differences publicly.

Parliament is currently holding an inquiry into the capture of Eskom. The ANC MPs supporting Dlamini-Zuma are against the inquiry, but those in support of Ramaphosa support the process.

Ramaphosa wants Zuma to appoint a commission of inquiry into state capture but Zuma and his loyalists are against that because the public protector report has implicated them and shows how they supported government business with the Gupta family.

The North West and Free State leaders, Supra Mahumapelo and Ace Magashule, see nothing wrong with the Guptas’ methods and their relationship with Zuma.

Leaders like Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas lost their jobs because they were blocking the influence of the Guptas.

Such leaders, including Gauteng leader Paul Mashatile, will want to see the Guptas prosecuted and those who support them dealt with.

Mabuza does not support the Guptas, which explains why those nominated in his province kicked out Magashule from the Dlamini-Zuma slate for the position of secretary-general. They instead gave their votes to Senzo Mchunu, who is on the Ramaphosa slate.

If Mabuza’s unity ticket flies, the question is: what impact will it have on leaders who get elected? There are two very vast sets of interest at play here. If the unity ticket wins, the big question is: will it bring the ANC votes in 2019 or will it paralyse the governing party further?

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