Nwabisa Makunga: JZ gives the middle finger

NwabisaMakungaIt must be the worst kind of feeling. Imagine you occupy a seat of substantial power. You decide to issue a directive in line with the rules of your organisation.

No one listens. In fact your boss publicly gives you the middle finger and goes on to cheer as those you lead undermine you in the most humiliating way. Such was Gwede Mantashe’s week.

The ANC secretary-general told the party in no uncertain terms last week that no member already serving in a provincial leadership committee could be elected to a regional structure.

The instruction meant that Andile Lungisa could not contest the Mandela Bay regional chairmanship for which he had spent months campaigning.

Regardless of Mantashe’s factional motives – real or perceived – his instruction was ultimately based on his interpretation of a rule in the party’s constitution.

Only it was an interpretation Lungisa disagreed with.

More importantly, it is a constitution President Jacob Zuma could not give a toss about. And so here we are. Lungisa is the regional chairman of the ANC, endorsed with much glee by Zuma in person.

This election was significant for several reasons, not least of them Lungisa himself. Let’s be real. The man is a contentious figure in our political landscape.

Those in his inner circle see a promising young leader in whom their beliefs and aspirations find expression.

Others see a scoundrel who deeply lacks integrity, one whose political career has bounced from one shameful scandal to another.

Perhaps the most enduring criticism of Lungisa to date was penned in 2011 by columnist Sipho Hlongwane, who suggested that the kind of greed that afflicted the then ANC Youth League deputy president was simply unfixable.

“(Julius) Malema has good grace to set up companies with which to win public tenders,” Hlongwane wrote.

“Lungisa dispenses with these pretences and helps himself straight from the government’s coffers.

“He is the most dangerous type of politician – he cannot be shamed into at least pretending he’s in power for the public’s benefit,” he wrote.

At the time, Lungisa had been chairing the National Youth Development Agency which, under his leadership, had an insatiable appetite for public funds while doing little to improve the lives of young people.

To think that this was even before that bizarre incident last year when a glass jug full of water miraculously found its way into his hand and smashed itself on the head of his political opponent in the metro council.

That incident remains a criminal matter before court.

Lungisa’s election therefore undermines the ANC’s own conference resolution which compels leaders facing serious allegations to step down voluntarily until they are cleared.

Nonetheless, Lungisa aside, most remarkable for me is that this election came on the same weekend the party released its policy discussion documents.

Quite fundamental among those in my view is one on the party’s proposed organisation renewal.

In its frank assessment of its own challenges, the party paints an ugly picture of an organisation that has grown distant from its people.

One trapped in a vicious cycle of insidious internal strife and power battles.

The document bemoans a new type of leader in its ranks who sees ill-discipline and divisive factionalism as normal, even necessary forms of survival.

The document compels the party to change.

On Sunday Jeff Radebe put out this document and asked South Africans to believe that it encapsulated an ANC determined to cleanse itself and to lead this nation into a better future.

Just minutes later in Port Elizabeth, Zuma stood shamelessly and with one speech nullified it.

With a smile on his face, he desecrated everything it stands for.

Nwabisa Makunga is deputy editor of The Herald and Weekend Post. 

4 thoughts on “Nwabisa Makunga: JZ gives the middle finger

  • March 16, 2017 at 1:39 pm
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    Interesting article Ms Makunga. I think the whole cleansing lie comes a little bit too late because truth be told we, as the people who followed and voted for the ANC (I mean the real one not the joke we see each day of late) lost confidence a long time ago. A testament of this is the Metro’s we lost after the elections. We lost because some of us did not bother to go vote and that’s the fact of the matter and now its haunting us to a certain extent but that’s a discussion for another day. I still agree with the view of CW Jackson which said…the top six must all resign or fire themselves and they whole NEC is started over. I think right now such bold and radical moves will have a significant impact on the politics of the country and, consequently, its governance. people taking mandate from themselves is just nonsensical (e.g. ruling party ANC Pres = SA Pres: ruling party top shayela giving mandate to country top shayela…duhhh). Lastly, not starting a fight or opening a dialogue but John Smith I doubt if Mrs Smith would like your tone and I mus say, its not a true reflection of the new Democratic South Africa our fore fathers, White, Black Brown or Pink, envisioned so it would be best if you take that back because one would argue and say look at your history properly not subjectively chief. @Dallas…u really hit the nail on the head chief…in fact what u speaking of is already happening.

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  • March 16, 2017 at 8:17 am
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    What is clear ZJ is huffing and puffing anywhere he can get help. The clock is ticking so ever loud for his 783 plus cases,I say plus because since he got into parly his messed up everything.

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  • March 15, 2017 at 10:12 pm
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    Nobody cares for your shameful ANC anymore – you guys are the biggest collection of thieves, rapists & murderers with zero morals or ethics. Eventually good people will lead this country again and you will all be sitting in prison where you belong.

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  • March 15, 2017 at 2:01 pm
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    the ANC is going to be the cause of their own downfall, great big pity about the damage to S.A. in the mean time.

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