Ambitions for political office do not drive former President Jacob Zuma, but the strategic toppling of ANC leaders he believes sent him to jail without trial, said insiders.
According to sources close to Zuma, the former ANC leader’s decision to vote for the newly formed party, Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), in the 2024 general elections, and distance himself from “the ANC of Ramaphosa”, is part of a broader strategy to weaken and eventually remove the current leadership, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, from power.
They said the ultimate beneficiary of his “chess move” could be Julius Malema’s EFF and Bishop Meshack Tebe’s All African Alliance Movement (AAAM), in a left-leaning EFF-led coalition government Zuma favours.
Moreover, the former ANC leader sees the MK brand as more powerful than the current ANC’s, thus, a perfect platform to wage a war of attrition against Ramaphosa.
Zuma took many by surprise when he announced that he remained an ANC member but would not vote for the governing party – a move considered a disciplinable misconduct by the former liberation movement.
“I have decided that I cannot and will not campaign for the ANC of Ramaphosa. My conscience will not allow me to lie to the people of South Africa and to pretend that the ANC of Ramaphosa is the ANC of Luthuli, Tambo, and Mandela. It is not the ANC that I joined and went to jail for. In this regard, I fully agree with other former leaders like Comrade Thabo Mbeki and others that it would be a betrayal to campaign for the ANC of Ramaphosa,” said Zuma, during his highly anticipated announcement at Ipelegeng Community Centre in Soweto on Saturday, December 16, 2023.
He clarified that his vote for MK did not indicate his departure from the ANC.
Zuma stated, “I will remain a member of the ANC until I die.”
According to insiders, Zuma has no ambition for political office. Instead, he wants to work with other left-leaning forces to remove Ramaphosa from power. He blames Ramaphosa and the current ANC leadership for his imprisonment without trial, and for what he regards as the terrible state of the party and the country in general.
“When a man states, “I took an oath when I joined the MK but only signed a form when I joined the ANC,” he is indicating that his involvement in the liberation struggle is closely connected to Umkhonto weSizwe and nobody can take it away from him. As a former head of intelligence in the ANC, Mr. Zuma sees the Umkhonto weSizwe brand as the strongest horse that can propel him forward in the 2024 political race,” said one of the insiders.
The insider maintained: “However, he is aware that abandoning the ANC would be detrimental to his interests. Like his protégé, Mr. Julius Malema, who was expelled from the ANC, Mr. Zuma has consistently stated his commitment to remaining a member of the ANC. Announcing the opposite would have been a mistake for him. However, he is daring the ANC collective to consider his call for members of the ANC to vote for MK as a disciplinary matter that may necessitate him retracting his statement or facing expulsion. Similar to Malema’s persistent claim that he did not voluntarily leave the ANC but was actually expelled from it, Mr. Zuma is currently anticipating his own expulsion, which will ultimately place the blame squarely at the door of Luthuli House.”
The source said, just like Malema, Zuma wanted to force the ANC to expel him rather than leave voluntarily.
“If you wish to maintain your integrity and credentials as a person who has fought for liberation, it is advisable not to voluntarily leave the ANC. Instead, it is better to exert pressure on the party until its leaders remove you from its ranks. Once you are expelled from the party, you become a sympathetic victim, particularly considering the valid reasons you have highlighted regarding the shameless bigotry within the carefully coined ‘ANC of Ramaphosa.’ If the ANC chooses not to expel Mr. Zuma and avoids falling into the trap he has set for them, it will still not alter the plan that has been developing since his February 5, 2021, tea meeting with Mr. Malema,” added the insider.
Zuma is the latest high-profile ANC leader to publicly turn his back on the governing party since Ramaphosa took over as ANC president in December 2017. This includes former secretary general Ace Magashule, former ANC Veterans Association Deputy President Mavuso Msimang and former Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus.
Some political analysts labelled Zuma, a desperate man pleading for help. Leaning on their traditional interpretation of politics, they argued that political candidates must align themselves with the strongest leftist or right-wing interests to win a presidential race.
However, another insider has offered African Times a comprehensive breakdown of Zuma’s decision to vote for MK without publicly declaring his departure from the ANC.
“There are many people who refer to Mr. Zuma as a master chess player, but it seems that they fail to comprehend his most recent move on the political chess board. It is essential for them to watch and learn,” said an insider who requested to remain anonymous due to concerns about potential victimization.
According to the insider, several analysts failed to notice Zuma’s choice of words, particularly his references to religious leaders and his call for a national day of prayer early next year. Zuma anticipated the court to rule in favour of the ANC, and declare the MK an ANC property, thus paving the way for the AAAM to emerge as an alternative or for left-leaning parties to unite behind the EFF.
The insider stated that this strategic move aims to subtly influence potential voters by highlighting the support of trusted and loyal leaders who endorse Zuma’s efforts to remove “the ANC of Ramaphosa” from power.
“If the courts rule against the use of MK as a political party, there are religious leaders who are prepared to step forward and ask Msholozi to be their candidate for the 2024 elections under AAAM. Msholozi would appear compelled to grant their request, as he would have already gained support as a presidential candidate under MK. Political analysts have widely argued that while Msholozi’s decision to vote against the ANC will have a significant impact on the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), this alone is not expected to be sufficient for him to regain his position at Government Avenue, or the Union Buildings. They don’t understand that Msholozi is not interested in becoming the president of South Africa in 2024. This is a numerical chess game.
“Msholozi’s sole responsibility is to ensure that the ANC’s support falls way below 50%, thereby creating multiple possibilities for a coalition government from various perspectives. If you paid close attention to him, you would have noticed that he was speaking from the same script as Carl Niehaus. Msholozi suggested that voters should take into account other progressive left parties. He made this statement one day after Carl announced that his political party, the African Radical Economic Transformation Alliance (ARETA), had decided to unite the progressive left under a single political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). This is the moment where, as a South African, you begin to add honey to the brew of the five-hour Nkandla tea party that started in 2021,” he said.
The second insider further suggested that Zuma’s role is to help the EFF erode the ANC’s voter base.
“The gathering of votes for the MK or AAAM is solely intended to provide a boost for the EFF following the elections. After the polls, you can combine the percentage that the EFF receives with the percentage that Msholozi receives, along with other progressive left parties. It is important for the general public to develop the ability to interpret and understand various signs. Msholozi has hinted on several occasions that Julius will assume leadership of this country. It would be satisfying for the master chess player to witness the same Julius who ousted Thabo Mbeki and subsequently, Msholozi from their positions, ultimately denying CR an opportunity to serve a second term as Commander-in-Chief of South Africa’s armed forces. Msholozi has no ambition to return to the Union Buildings. He is determined to witness his persecutors face the consequences of their electoral failures without his influence,” said the second insider.
He added: “It is important to note that in order for a political party to secure two seats in the National Assembly, approximately 80,000 votes are currently required. Do you believe that Msholozi, with all the influence he commands and the fact that he was persecuted for pursuing nuclear energy to end load shedding, will be unsuccessful in usurping at least 400,000 votes from angry ANC supporters?”
“Those votes translate into seats the ANC will desperately need to maintain their slippery grip on power, especially considering the independent growth of the EFF and other smaller factions like Ace Magashule’s African Congress of Transformation (ACT). The ANC perceives itself as a big elephant, but a pride of small lions has started eating away at its body, one vote at a time. You wait and see. The day after the polls, everything that seemed confusing will suddenly become clear.”
Ugandan activist Tusiimire Amon Biganja urged the EFF to grab Zuma’s latest move with both hands.
“There has never been a great political opportunity like this for the EFF and CIC Julius Malema to win the presidency of South Africa, but it calls for intensive mobilization and, if possible, to lure all these leaders who have openly divorced the ANC party. The 2024 general elections should be a second revolution for South Africa,” said Biganja.
Zuma, the MK political party, and the AAAM could not be immediately reached for comment.