POLITICS
01/06/2018 13:16 SAST | Updated 01/06/2018 13:16 SAST

Here's Why Ramaphosa Needs To Be Afraid Of An Untamed Zuma In KZN

Zuma has not gone quietly into the night; instead, he been actively rallying support in KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC's largest voting province.

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Former president Jacob Zuma has not gone quietly into the night, consolidating his support in his home province through active campaigning while subtly pulling the strings on party politics in the ANC.

This poses an immediate problem for President Cyril Ramaphosa and his promise to unite the party under his leadership. KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC's largest voting delegation, has been Zuma's stronghold throughout his presidential tenure.

And his support has hardly waned there since his resignation, with talks of a pro-Zuma political party now in the pipeline.

Days after his resignation, Zuma received a hero's welcome from some ANC regions in the province, particularly from the branches that encompass his Nkandla home. A month later, Zuma kicked off his support campaign, under the guise of canvassing support for the ANC at ground level.

READ: Rogues' Gallery Of Support For Zuma In Durban.

At the end of March, at another church service on Good Friday, Zuma named himself the victim of a campaign to have him ousted -- a narrative that continues today. Thousands turned up to support him when he appeared in court on April 6 -- a show of strength spearheaded by leaders of the ANC's disbanded provincial leadership, a group of churches and Black First Land First members (whose leader, Andile Mngxitama, has shown himself to be a staunch Zuma ally).

At his official welcome party in Nkandla on Thursday this week, Zuma again reiterated that he has done nothing wrong, and is not afraid of conviction.

READ: Pro-Zuma Forces Prepare To Launch New Political Party.

For Ramaphosa, this poses a serious problem. Firstly, if he is unable to considerably shift the balance of power in KZN in his favour, and render Zuma's support-base moot, his predecessor could wreak havoc on his presidency.

Ramaphosa has left Zuma out in the cold when it comes to fighting his legal battles, pushing the former president into a corner. This makes Zuma dangerous and unpredictable.

The first battleground in the contest between both leaders' factions will be at the ANC in KZN's provincial conference next week. Should members of the disbanded executive return to power, Ramaphosa's influence in the province will be almost nonexistent.

The second battleground will be at the ANC's National General Council (NGC) in 2020 and will indicate the chances of Ramaphosa seeing out his term or getting a second run. Before then, Ramaphosa will need a serious win for the ANC at the ballot boxes come the national elections next year.

Pegged as the man who would return lost voter confidence to the ANC, losses at the elections will hand serious ammunition to Zuma and his supporters ahead of the NGC.

Ramaphosa should make no mistake in thinking that his position at the helm of the Union Buildings is fully secure. Not while Zuma is actively trying to mend a bruised ego after he was forced into resignation.