Sona mess shows ANC ineptitude

Image: THULI DLAMINI

For weeks the ANC has been dilly dallying over the future of its former president, Jacob Zuma.

As the appointed day of the State of the Nation Address (Sona) has drawn nearer, the ANC's indecision has become all the more apparent. The party may as well thank the heavens that the Sona was postponed yesterday.

But why did it leave its decision on Zuma to the eleventh hour?

Allowing the matter to drag on while the panic in broader society escalates towards the Sona is not wise.

The governing party's handling of this matter portrays an organisation in disarray. Resolving the situation of two centres of power was always going to be the biggest test for Cyril Ramaphosa.

In particular, how he dealt with a predecessor who is at the centre of scandal and facing the prospect of being criminally charged for corruption was always going to be the yardstick by which his aptitude to lead not only the ANC but the country would be measured.

So far, the ANC under Ramaphosa has demonstrated that it is not up to the task.

This is a situation that calls for decisive action.

It requires an unwavering commitment to put the interests of the ANC and the country first.

And it should have been the first order of business for the party's national executive committee (NEC). Instead, the matter was not tabled for discussion last month, at the first meeting of the party's highest decision-making body between conferences.

The NEC skirted around the issue, as if to deny the existence of the problem altogether.

The new leadership has tried to strike a delicate balance between maintaining unity through diplomacy and stamping its authority by demonstrating its willingness and capacity to act to clean out the rot that has enveloped both party and state.

But walking this tightrope cannot quiet the divisions and keep the deep fissures at bay for too long.

Given that Zuma had dug in his heels, it seemed unlikely that the NEC would be able to push him out prior to the grand affair.

But it's not too late for the ANC leadership to redeem itself.

At the least this urgent NEC meeting should come out with a clearly defined transition plan to restore confidence.

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