The ANC silly season is upon us now that the party has announced preparations for its mid-term conference.
But the faction fighting is already in full swing.
The Zuma camp is actively implementing a comeback strategy aimed at winning most regional conferences, to be held between now and March 2021.
These are critical, determining which delegates will go to the National General Council (NGC).
The ANC’s NGC comes 30 months after the elective conference but will be nine months late this time around when it sits in April 2021.
Over 4,000 delegates are expected to attend.
The congress is supposed to be a review of policy and is designed to map out a strategy ahead of the coming local government elections.
But it will be anything but.
Over the years the NGC has been used as a battleground for ANC factions fighting for control of the party and government.
Leaders with political ambitions for high office use this platform as a launch pad to undermine the incumbent and campaign for the ANC top job.
In fact, the Zuma faction is using the exact same strategy it used ahead of the 2005 NGC, where former president Thabo Mbeki expected to convince the congress to force Zuma to step down from his position as ANC deputy president.
Mbeki had just fired Zuma from his executive after he was implicated in the corruption trial of his former financial adviser Shabir Shaik.
Back then Zuma supporters held night vigils outside courts ahead of Zuma’s appearances and burned ANC t-shirts with Mbeki’s face.
They then worked the branches to ensure Zuma held sway of the vote at the July 2005 NGC, where Mbeki’s plan was rejected, paving the way for Zuma’s path to the top.
Fast forward to 2020, a top Zuma ally Ace Magashule has been charged with fraud and corruption in the R225 million asbestos scandal.
Court appearances provide a platform for him, as they did for Zuma in 2005, to address the crowds and undermine the authority of the sitting president.
This month, Magashule supporters burned t-shirts with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s face, emulating Zuma supporters of 2005.
Magashule came out and denied having ambitions for high office exactly the same way Zuma did in 2005.
Just like Zuma created an impression that ANC members were prepared to pay his legal fees, Magashule suggested his supporters also contribute to paying his bail of R200,000.
“I want to thank the comrades who contributed to paying my bail. Thank you very much comrades. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming here and supporting the ANC,” he said.
Magashule and the Zuma camp are going to the NGC to get branch delegates to approve his refusal to step down from his position despite being charged with fraud and corruption.
“I was elected by branches of the ANC. We must go to a special conference and the branches must say to me ‘comrade Magashule, step aside’.”