Election ’24: From ‘impossible’ to ‘likely’ and back


Election ’24: From ‘impossible’ to ‘likely’ and back

It seems increasingly likely that the results will be a seismic shock that fundamentally shifts the balance of power, writes MAX DU PREEZ. The apparent popularity of Jacob Zuma's MK Party is the surprise of the decade.


DRAMA. Intrigue. Secret political funding. Possible instability. “Game-changers." The beginning of the end for the ANC. A whole new era in South Africa. Zuma as Lazarus. Zulu nationalism thriving.

These are all buzz phrases we are likely to hear a lot in the months ahead.

If the latest opinion polls even remotely reflect political reality, we can now accept it as a fact that South Africa will be governed by a coalition of parties after the election (likely in the last week of May).

The big question now is: will the ANC, still the largest political party but possibly pulling only about 40% of the votes, choose to govern with MK and the EFF, or with the Multi-Party Charter (DA, IFP, ActionSA, Freedom Front+) plus parties like Rise Mzansi and Build One South Africa (Bosa)?

The first option is likely to threaten the core of our constitution and lead to extensive nationalisation, land confiscation, and even greater mismanagement of the economy and the civil service.

We are talking about Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema, people.

The second option could usher in a new era of clean and effective governance and economic growth but may also bring instability: if MK and the EFF together garner about a quarter of the votes and a significant portion of the ANC is unhappy about an alliance with parties like the DA, they may not be satisfied just being in the opposition.

Lees hierdie artikel in Afrikaans:

Opinion polls project the Multi-Party Charter's national support at about 35%. Predictions for EFF support fluctuate wildly between 12% and 18%. Rise Mzansi, Mmusi Maimane's Bosa, the Patriotic Alliance, and other smaller parties outside the ANC orbit will probably not pull more than 10% of votes together. Roger Jardine's Change Starts Now doesn't yet register on the Richter scale.

If you were on vacation in Bali and missed it, here's the bomb that exploded this week: the Social Research Foundation found in an opinion poll that MK is projected to get 24% of the votes in KwaZulu-Natal, with the ANC at 25%, the IFP at 24% and the DA at 15%.

Gareth van Onselen, CEO of Victory Research that did the polling, says if MK stands at 24% in KZN, it probably has more than 5% support in Gauteng.

Nationally, MK could thus enjoy more than 5% support if the election were held today. Rapport reported last Sunday that a secret" poll estimated MK's national support at 9%.

Almost all of these votes will come from former ANC voters. The best the ANC has fared in a poll so far is 51%, while others have estimated support as low as 43% before MK became a factor.

A senior ANC source told me yesterday that his fear is that the shock news of MK's popularity will bring a new impetus in KZN and encourage even more Zulu-speaking ANC voters to join MK in the coming weeks.

What we see here is Zulu nationalism and its impact on South Africa," says the head of the Social Research Foundation, Frans Cronjé. In this Biznews video, he discusses it with Alec Hogg:

There are many questions about MK, such as who is really behind it (aside from Zuma) and where its money comes from. Some see the secret hand of former intelligence operators from the Zuma era. (I couldn't get phone numbers for the big ghosts from that era, Arthur Fraser and Thulani Dlomo, in time, so I couldn't interview them.)

MK spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndlela told Qaanitah Hunter of News 24 this week that the party's preparations began more than four years ago. “It has taken four years of underground planning and working towards setting up what you now see today as a party."

This means the preparation for the party, officially registered only last year, was in full swing when KZN and parts of the Witwatersrand erupted in catastrophic anarchy and looting in July 2021 after Zuma was sent to prison for contempt of court.

The unexplained (sinister?) part of the story is that Zuma was the only leading member of the old RET faction who joined MK. His two most loyal henchmen, Carl Niehaus and Mzwanele Manyi (still spokesperson for the Zuma Foundation), are now EFF MPs, as is his sycophant Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the ousted public protector. The nominal leader of the old RET, Ace Magashule, recently founded his own party, the African Congress for Transformation.

Zuma's twins, Duduzane and Duduzile, are the children closest to him. Duduzane did not join MK and told Newzroom Afrika this week that he will soon register his own party, All Game Changers. (The gossip on social media this week was that Duduzane has substantial financial support from Arabian millionaires, but I have no way to verify that.)

Duduzile, who is active on social media and lives with her father on the Nkandla estate, praises and promotes MK and the EFF, and her father and Malema, equally.

So, is MK a Trojan horse in the EFF or is the EFF a Trojan horse in MK? Or was it the idea from the beginning that the two parties would work together?

Will Duduzane, who has declared his ambition to become president, eventually join MK with Magashule and others?

The internal struggle within the ANC over whether the party is closer to the EFF and MK than to the DA/IFP/ActionSA will intensify in the next month or so — possibly even leading to a split.

It is difficult to imagine that Ramaphosa would accept leading a ruling coalition with Zuma's MK and Malema's EFF. The same probably goes for most members of the ANC national executive committee and the influential veterans' league.

They know who and what Zuma and Malema are and what they stand for. They understand that Zuma's declared intention to fundamentally change the constitution and his dangerous undermining of the electoral process will be catastrophic for South Africa.

They do not trust Malema and Floyd Shivambu and don't agree with the EFF's racial nationalism and authoritarian style.

But there are also strong elements in the ANC, such as the youth league and leaders in Gauteng and KZN, who have a deep disdain for the DA, especially, and would prefer to follow the black nationalist populist route.

My own sense is that the ANC leadership would be more unlikely to enter a coalition with MK and the EFF than when the EFF was the only potential partner.

What will happen if the ANC integrity commission is not satisfied with Deputy President Paul Mashatile's explanations of all News24's revelations about him? What will happen if Mashatile may face criminal charges? Will he perhaps defect to MK or the EFF if he thinks his party is treating him poorly?

Unlikely, but not impossible.

Will EFF-lite members of the ANC such as Tony Yengeni and Andile Lungisa perhaps join MK or the EFF?

That's the thing about election 2024: what has so far been seen as impossible or improbable is now possible and probable, and vice versa.

♦ VWB ♦

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