The ANC can do better but it won't. Since the ANC won't do better, the man who can outdo the party will remain at the helm for another five years.
Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves. We're in for a bumpy ride – and that's not just about the road to Mangaung. The road to the future is going to get increasingly bumpy because many people in the ANC are making a huge mistake – they are securing the future of an individual as opposed to that of the party.
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma will probably get his second term as ANC president unopposed. In the words of the other Jay-Z, "Men lie, women lie, numbers don't". In this case, if the numbers in KwaZulu-Natal remain as they are and no surprises happen along the road to Mangaung, Zuma will retain the presidency. Here are the numbers – the ANC membership numbers that is – from its strongest three provinces: KwaZulu-Natal – January: 244 900, now 331 820; Eastern Cape – January: 225 597, now 187 585; Gauteng – January: 121 223, now 134 909.
Zuma's stronghold – KwaZulu-Natal – grew insanely within the space of three months. While KwaZulu-Natal grew by 86 000, membership in the the ANC's traditional strong province – the Eastern Cape – fell by a staggering 38 000. How Zuma has played this game has been a stroke of genius. He decided to grow an unassailable lead in his home province to combat potential loss of support in others. He even wooed the unions by shutting up the general secretary of tripartite alliance partner Cosatu, Zwelinzima Vavi.
In Mangaung, of the 3 687 branches in good standing, KwaZulu-Natal will send 974, Eastern Cape 676, Limpopo 574, Gauteng 500, Mpumalanga 467, Free State 324, North West 234, the Western Cape and Northern Cape will send 170 branches each. Of course, KwaZulu-Natal is not a homogenous province and these numbers do not necessarily mean that all the branches will be behind Zuma. But we know that a vast majority of them will be, which will prove to be a challenge for any potential challengers. The maths is looking good for JZ.
While his potential rivals were campaigning in places like the Eastern Cape, Zuma made sure KwaZulu-Natal grew in leaps and bounds. He created such a large gap that any potential challengers might decide to hold back and not oppose him going to Mangaung.
"These clever people" who thought that his days were numbered have another thing coming. Just when you think Zuma is dead in the water, he comes back again. Zuma has more lives than a cat. If he entered all Survivors, he would win each and every single one of them. He is like a WWE wrestler who gets covered for the one, two, three count but manages to kick out just as the ref is about to count him out. This guy is the Chuck Norris of politics.
While brilliant now, the problem with Zuma's strategy is that it is short-sighted. It is a survival strategy not a thriving one. Sure, he will survive and win but in return, he is costing the ANC. The ruling party will certainly suffer the loss of even more votes in the next election. The ANC majority in all the provinces but KwaZulu-Natal will continue to be reduced and it will most likely lose Nelson Mandela Bay to the Democratic Alliance (DA). Can you imagine? The name Nelson Mandela under the DA?
Yes, Zuma will survive but the ANC will be left even sicker. It will be in intensive care. It is a tragedy that the party leaders don't do more to protect the ANC but choose to do more to protect those who lead it. Once Zuma wins he won't serve long before the knives are out for him. The ANC will start looking into the future of his tenure and he will most likely be Thabo Mbeki-ed.
The ANC needs to rethink whether it cares more about an individual or the party. It needs to ensure it does not continue towards a downward spiral. The party needs to start thinking about a plan that will get a unifying candidate who will help it regain its losses in other provinces. The ANC has to start looking at itself and the party very honestly right now. In fact, nothing short of painfully honest. It must ask the unthinkable questions too.
In order for the party to thrive and grow, the ANC might have to think about what it fears – sacrificing Zuma and not give him a second term. In fact, Zuma would do well if he just gave up power like former president Nelson Mandela, an act which has made him even more powerful and beloved. If the party gives him a second term, it might take them a much, much longer time to repair the damage to the party. And this is not being anti-Zuma, it is being pro-ANC. I personally find him likeable but we must separate his likeability from his ability. The ANC is not benefiting from his leadership. And that is the hard truth no one wants to discuss.
Nkosaza Dlamini-Zuma would be the perfect compromise candidate, not because she is a compromise candidate, but because she is excellent and is perfectly capable of leading the party.
I will end off by quoting from a blog I wrote on ThoughtLeader in September 2008 with the title: Should Zuma give way for a Motlanthe presidency after the 2009 elections?
"The question is: Is Zuma man enough to give up what no man would give up? Can he truly give up what he has been working towards for such a long time? Can he give it up when it is within reach? When he has it in the palm of his hand? If I were him I don't know if I would be able to. And that is the truth. Perhaps we should understand why he wouldn't give up. But I don't think we should excuse him for not letting go."
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