In an unexpected announcement that preceded the ruling party’s highly contested national conference, President Zuma informed the nation that government will subsidise free education for poor and working class students – a stark contradiction of the recommendations by the Heher Commission.
Besides the timeous nature of the announcement, several delegates from Kwa-Zulu Natal, Free State and North-West were ruled as invalid following a series of court rulings on Friday.
Not only did this prove to be another frustrating headache for the party leadership, it nevertheless, without doubt, enticed panic in the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma camp.
All three provinces were easily won by the presidential hopeful with a select few branches from the North-West and Free State swinging for Ramaphosa and about a quarter of Kwa-Zulu Natal branches breaking provincial hegemony and expressing support for the Deputy President.
Before the conference, Ramaphosa came out as the winner of the branch tally after all provinces concluded their provincial general meetings.
However, as every ANC election analyst familiar with the party’s electoral protocols, a winner of the branch tally, is not an absolutely credible indication of who will win.
But the math cannot be disregarded. The Zuma camp are not likely to risk this conference unless all avenues of power have been exhausted to secure victory.
Just hours before the conference was due to commence, the party’s national executive committee convened an urgent meeting to deliberate on the court rulings concerning the delegates from the above mentioned provinces. Their final decision was to prohibit these delegates (a mix of branch and provincial executive committee delegates) from voting, however, they are still permitted to attend the conference. A decision most probably decided on the spirit of unity.
But did this stop Jacob Zuma?
Absolutely not. Saturday morning was time for damage control. The president delivered a promise that is nothing more than a populist temptation that is absent of any logistics of where the funding will be sourced.
We can only assume that this announcement was the NDZ camp’s last minute nuclear option to woo any undecided or CR-leaning delegates. It only parallels the leadership style of the Zuma ANC for the past ten years – radical, far-left promises with the expectation that it will enable the continuation of the Zuma dynasty.
But after ten years of rampant corruption, a dangerously declining economy, an an increasingly distrust of the government among the electorate – one can only hope and expect that this is just not enough to save Zuma this time.
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