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(GIN)—African National Conference (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa sailed over an impeachment inquiry this past week but faced a seriously divided party at the recent National Convention of the ANC, nearly upending his victory race for ANC party leader and ultimately president for a second term.

Unhappiness and frustration has been growing among the ANC cadres, who say the party is increasingly out of touch with the needs of ordinary South Africans, still mired in poverty, unemployment and inequality—a triple threat, as Ramaphosa himself has acknowledged.

It didn’t help that an elite group of public officials was revealed to be enriching itself mightily through corruption. Details of the misdeeds were spelled out in a report named after its chairperson, Justice Raymond Zondo. The report goes into forensic detail about the way state resources were plundered.

Wealthy business owners, the inquiry revealed, used their millions to influence political and economic decisions in a process known as “state capture.”

When the stain of corruption finally reached the top of the ANC—Ramaphosa himself—angry ANC leaders peeled off, threatening to give their votes to a former health minister, Zweli Mkhize, and taking with them several large provinces, including KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape Gauteng, Limpopo and North West.

“We need to vote for a comrade who can deliver us from the poor state of [electric company] Eskom. This deliberation will deliver a strong NEC [National Executive Committee] that is going to win in 2024,” KwaZulu-Natal Chair Siboniso Duma was heard to tell his delegates.

At the last minute, Ramaphosa swung the vote of the national convention to his side, winning 2,276 votes to Mkhize’s 1,897.

But the uproar at the convention will not quickly be forgotten.

As he stepped up to deliver an opening address at the convention on Friday, Ramaphosa was shouted down by delegates from political rival and former president Jacob Zuma’s home province, KwaZulu-Natal. Chaos prevailed into the early hours. Delegates interrupted officials by singing campaign choruses celebrating or deriding Ramaphosa. His spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, called it an all-out war.

Also dogging the party is the appearance of a patriarchal society and a patriarchal organization, ANC deputy president Mmamoloko Kuyai observed. The party’s leadership is too male, too old and too enmeshed with corruption, critics say. Worse, the party does not have a proper plan to incorporate new leadership.

“The disappointment in Ramaphosa is profound,” said William Gumede, head of the Democracy Works think tank. “But South Africa’s expectations have dropped so low that Ramaphosa is still seen as better than other alternatives. I’m struck by how this is the view from the boardrooms of major corporations to people in rural villages.” 

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1 Comment

  1. This article’s title is completely misleading; as, the content solely reflects the state of Azania’s ANC political party.

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