Oh what a grand thing is democracy. It is a great giver, and it takes too. I would have loved to have been in the same room with DA leader Mmusi Maimane and the EFF’s Julius Malema at 2pm last Tuesday.
That was the time ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe sat in front of the microphones at Luthuli House to announce the outcomes of the party’s marathon national executive committee (NEC) meeting.
Of course, Malema would have known exactly what had gone down in that meeting. President Jacob Zuma’s divided NEC is leaking like a sieve and Malema is the first man to know what is going on inside the ANC.
He knows because at least a quarter of that NEC bleats, directly or indirectly, to him.
They know now that this young man, who once vowed to kill for the president of the ANC, saw the light way earlier than them and opposed Zuma way back in 2012. And they did not listen.
Mantashe’s press conference has set the ANC and South Africa on one path.
The party is on its last mile, headed for total destruction in about 20 years, while a new opposition politics will rise.
In his statement, Mantashe said: “Following robust, honest, candid and at times difficult discussions, the NEC did not support the call for the president to step down.
“The NEC resolved it was more urgent to direct the energies of the ANC in its entirety to working towards the unity of the movement.”
That last line is the killer blow for the ANC. Faced with a major decision, it chose to stay together in a sham unity while all around it the people – particularly in urban areas such as Gauteng – are walking away from it.
That walkout by members and supporters, so long as the party’s current president is in charge, will continue. The ANC will now lose the Gauteng province in 2019, and will lose nationally in 2024.
Every day that Zuma spends as president of the party makes it possible that the ANC may lose the 2019 elections nationally.
It’s all over bar the shouting. We have seen this story before in Zambia, Kenya and elsewhere.
The spotlight now must turn towards Maimane and Malema, and the parties they lead.
The president will soon fall and his party will splinter again. It will suffer electorally and the space will open up for the opposition.
There was a time once when we would speak of the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Congress of the People and the United Democratic Movement in this opposition constellation.
But they, too, seem destined for the scrap heap of history, laudable and principled as some of them are.
Perhaps they can be adjuncts to the DA and the EFF, but they are not the main players.
So the game is with the DA, the EFF and its leaders.
The DA has spent the past 22 years criticising and haranguing the ANC. To its credit it gained support in the Western Cape and had to implement rather than just criticise.
The big question for it is whether it can run a national government, possibly hamstrung by having to bring in a coalition partner, in the next 10 years.
The EFF could surprise on the upside, but given its lethargic growth between 2014 and 2016 it looks like it will remain in third spot for the next election.
It is a party with little by way of track record except for its justifiable haranguing of Zuma. Its power is in its kingmaker role.
Will it stick with the DA if it had to pick in 2019? Would it be tempted by cosying up to the ANC – and the corruption and self-enrichment that would be possible in such an arrangement?
What is clear is this: after last week’s shambolic display by the ANC, Maimane and Malema are headed towards the Union Buildings.
The ANC’s leaders can whine and whinge and complain that the analysts are lying, but that is what they said before the City of Tshwane, Joburg and Nelson Mandela Bay went on August 3.
The future is red. The future is blue. The future is another country.
Analysis of the ANC is now like watching the slow, agonising death of an animal being swallowed and digested by a boa constrictor – with the ANC president being the snake and the party being the poor goat that is being had for supper.
Next year will be the ANC’s most hectic yet as the slow death continues.
Most of us will report it with a certain nostalgia.
We will be remembering the glorious history of that movement. But that is history.
We all have to move on. When the ANC backed its corrupt president for a false unity, it opened up the door for Maimane and Malema.
They can’t stop them now.