The counter revolution is not gonna headline the Sunday Times

That Sunday organ is a well established field of play for leaks from factions struggling for power in and around the ANC – and, just as an aside, proved itself most obliging to the whole State Capture initiative by assisting the decimation of SARS through its exclusive reports on the Rogue Spy Unit. See one of those despicable stories here and here for coverage of one of the ST’s deeply inadequate and belated apologies.

Hey but they said sorry and changed some editorial staff. No use dwelling on the past, or crying over spilt milk. Time to move along, look to the future. Can’t stay a victim forever … ahem, sounds familiar. And anyway, it is probably the ‘better’ Sunday read so ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

You can imagine my Sundays are not shining beacons of light in my work week. I consume the weeklies that day the same way as experts at eating elephants accomplish their mammoth task: by taking very small bites. I also eat with long teeth, as my Afrikaans brethren idiomatically suggest is the correct manner one chews food of questionable provenance.

Anyway.

I read the lead Sunday Times story first thing Sunday morning. It was written by award winning journalist Qaanitah Hunter; who by reputation and in my experience of her work is without blemish or at least no blemishes I know about. I have never heard (or read) her to be fast and loose with the truth, or to be in the service of any of the many nefarious forces that compete for journalists’ attention.

But that story was very iffy. So, Zuma had a “clandestine” meeting with ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, ANC Women’s League secretary-general Meokgo Matuba, and ANC Youth League KwaZulu-Natal secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo at the Maharani hotel in Durban on Thursday last week.

The day before, and sans Zuma according to the story, a comparable meeting took place at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks and was “believed” (by whom, one might dare ask)  to have been attended by Magashule, Mahumapelo and former SAA board chair Dudu Myeni.

The allegation at the heart of the story is contained in the following paragraph:

The meeting is believed to have discussed a fightback strategy that involved court action to challenge the outcome of last year’s ANC national conference at Nasrec, where Ramaphosa was elected president.

Hunter was later sent a picture of a gun from the phone of the charming Ms Meokgo Matuba of the ANC Youth League.

Tiffany Blue and White Pearl

(The Smith & Wesson gun pic Matuba’s phone mysteriously sent to Hunter. I did a reverse image search and found this description which I thought I would share with you to brighten up a dull news day and remind you how classy the ANC Youth League  has become since Julius ‘AK 47’ Malema has left (oops – Ed): “This Smith & Wesson M&P .40 has been coated in Tiffany Blue and White Pearl Coat. Top it off with a little custom graphic work, and this is a great look. Get this pistol into the right light and the Pearl Coat really comes to life! Customize something for yourself today at http://www.tzarmory.com” Get it into the right and Ms Matubu is unlikely to be showing Ms Hunter how things come to life. {Don’t be snide, it’s unattractive – Ed}.)

 

Meetings were denied. Magashule met his colleagues in the Top Six and then went on TV to say: yes, I did, in fact, as it turns out, have a meeting with Mr Zuma. No, it was not a conspiracy. There was much clever finessing about who was in which meeting but, ‘it was part of my job as Secretary General of the ANC’ asserted the worthy Ace Magashule. See that interview – here (the links on the eNCA pages seem to be the most stable).

 

So what?

I have little doubt and absolutely no proof that Ace Magashule and Jacob Zuma and a range of other State-Capture-implicated-individuals are starting to quake in their boots at the fine and implacable grinding of the processes that will  hopefully lead to them receiving their just deserts.

Likewise, I have little doubt and no proof that they are plotting like mad to get rid of Cyril Ramaphosa sooner rather than later. I think the Nasrec thing is a non-starter and they should be focussing attention on getting a NDZ win in December 2022, so Cyril Ramaphosa can be a one-term-wonder and they can go back to the unambiguous state capture festival and continue to avoid the legal consequences.

My view is that they are weakened but still dangerous – as a faction throughout the ANC but with particular provincial and organisational strengths. I argue elsewhere that their future, like the reformists gathered around Ramaphosa, depends to some degree on how the ANC performs in the national election in mid-2019 and how this feeds through into the national conference in December 2022.

The thumb-suck heuristic I am using is an ANC above 58% is good for Cyril Ramaphosa – and therefore, indirectly, good for lowered levels of political risk and investment. An ANC below 53 percent, especially one that slips below 50% in Gauteng or even Eastern Cape would leave Ramaphosa vulnerable. (Although thinking about it again, the latter set of results is so catastrophic for the ANC, the party could well disintegrate … but I will have to argue that out in a later post.)

(Note: I realise I am arguing that a stronger ANC victory is better than a weaker one next year, and I realise how controversial that is. It is not a view I have had since the mid-2000’s, but has re-emerged with the narrow victory of Cyril Ramaphosa in December. It is also not a view that I hold with strong confidence. I am aware of many weaknesses in the assumptions … but it is my view for now and I will attempt to defend it here over the next few months.)

I am interested as to why the story was published, why it was given so much prominence and why it made the allegation quoted above (that this was a meeting to plot to collapse the Nasrec result). If there is ‘information’ to be gleaned here it is more in the fact of the story and its publication, and less in its contents.