THE BLOG

Editor's Note: The Reckoning For The ANC Is Coming, Either Way

South Africans are 24 hours away from clarity about their collective future.

16/12/2017 05:58 SAST | Updated 16/12/2017 06:03 SAST
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A woman is seen wearing a doek adorned with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zumas face during the prayer party organised by the Dlamini Clan in her home Bulwer on December 10, 2017 in KwaZulu-Natal.

There's poetic justice to the fact that the ANC's Polokwane and Nasrec national conferences start and conclude on exactly the same days in December, precisely a decade apart, from 16 to 20 December.

When President Jacob Zuma is replaced as ANC leader on Sunday morning, 17 December 2017, by either Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa or his preferred proxy, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, he will have been the governing party's guiding light for a day shorter than a decade.

Ten years hence and the ANC -– and the country -– is worse off when measured against every single metric you can imagine

Zuma was anointed in the early evening of 18 December 2007, a muggy, sticky evening caused by the convergence of the stifling heat of Limpopo and the hard rains of summer. The massive marquee tent was heaving and sweaty when the Elexions Agency's Dren Nupen announced that Zuma had defeated his nemesis, Thabo Mbeki.

In the moments after the announcement, with hundreds of Zuma supporters thundering a staccato "Zu-MA, Zu-MA, Zu-MA", Mbeki grew old. Surrounded by his kitchen cabinet and his trusted lieutenants, his face suddenly seemed more creased, his trademark goatee whiter and his brow more furrowed. He had been warning for months that if the ANC elected to go down the path Zuma wanted to beat down for it, the party would face certain disaster.

Ten years hence and the ANC -– and the country -– is worse off when measured against every single metric you can imagine, bar the dramatic turnaround in HIV/Aids statistics. Our economy is at its lowest point since 1994, large-scale corruption has evolved into organised and systematic state capture and trust in the governing party has never been lower. In the last week there have been three key judgments against Zuma, with the courts expressing their lack of confidence in the integrity of the head of state.

Things are dire. And the country is yearning for direction and hope.

But the ANC will on Sunday make a clear choice between reclamation and rejuvenation, and the further Zuptafication of party and state.

The ANC will announce who will succeed Zuma on Sunday morning, while many South Africans will be returning home from church, starting to prepare a family lunch or on their way on holiday. But many more South Africans will at the same time be scrounging for the means to survive another day, they'll be working or be contemplating their lot in life.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma gestures ahead of the African National Congress 5th National Policy Conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Soweto, South Africa, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

For these South Africans Sunday will provide clarity on the way forward, clarity on what the ANC is planning for our future and clarity on who is looking out for them. The vagaries of our political system means that whomever the ANC elects to lead them will be the person who directs all of our futures. It's an enormous responsibility, and one that Zuma was hopelessly ill-equipped to shoulder.

But the ANC will on Sunday make a clear choice between reclamation and rejuvenation, and the further Zuptafication of party and state.

Whatever the choice will be, at least South Africans will know where they stand. And the reckoning will come, either way.