The 5th ANC National Policy Conference is going on over in Jozi, and behind the scenes there is an almighty power struggle playing out.
It boils down to a simple equation – Jacob Zuma’s “radical” faction, pitted against Cyril Ramaphosa’s “constitutional” faction.
Sadly it’s not an event where the party contemplates how they’ve strayed so far from their ideals, but rather one where the main aim seems to be consolidating individual power.
The Daily Maverick’s Richard Poplak has once again played out of his boots with his look at how it’s all unfolding:
“Lobbying doesn’t quite cover it,” said a source, who can’t be named for reasons that should be thuddingly obvious. “It’s war.”
…According to reports from those who attended the sessions, this was the mouth of the River Styx: where President Jacob Zuma faced down deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa in a proxy battle that was stunningly well co-ordinated, especially as far as Team Zuma was concerned…
The Ramaphosa camp, which has become used to holding the upper hand on organisation and well-framed arguments, were reportedly taken aback by the sophistication of the opposing faction’s assault.
“There were sensible contributions made on forestry, fisheries – serious policy contributions,” said a source. “There were those who said we don’t need any more policies, but rather more implementation and state capacity.”
But who cared about that? Certainly not the president, who showed up on Monday and Tuesday reportedly looking relaxed and confident.
Wow, I think we’re all surprised that he actually did a little homework.
All of this is really a sign of how captured the party is as a whole, and the power Zuma wields over those who owe their daily bread to him and his puppet masters.
About that deep introspection the party so needs – I think Zapiro nails it:
© 2017 Zapiro (All Rights Reserved). Printed/Used with permission from www.zapiro.com
How did team Cyril battle back?
Cyril Ramaphosa showed up to make a case for something much more measured but equally mired in jargon: what was required for radical socio-economic transformation, he reportedly said, was something he termed massification – a vast drive by the government to involve the previously disadvantaged masses in all aspects of the economy.
This would be made possible by attracting capital from abroad – the beloved Foreign Direct Investment – but also from home. He spoke about capitalising small businesses, the informal sector, and incubator schemes.
On the land issue, “he tried to navigate a middle ground”, said a source, by advocating “the full scope of what the Constitution allows”. This was a clear play to leave the land issue open, which it is likely to remain for the meantime.
So the battle lines have been drawn with regards the party’s economic policies going forward, and we’ll have to go to the scorecard to see who takes home the win:
This was a real, high-stakes war, and its outcome will determine so much of what happens in the coming months. One thing is certain – each concession made by Zuma should not be interpreted as a loss. Every great fighter takes a few blows. It’s the knock-out punch that counts.
Zuma – bruised, bloodied but (as of yet) never beaten.
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