The road to Mangaung: Who’s got Zuma’s back?

As the ANC’s centenary celebrations mark the beginning of the countdown to its 53rd national elective conference in Mangaung, the Mail & Guardian looks at the cast of characters championing Jacob Zuma’s re-election as the president of the ruling party in the face of stiff competition from his opponents.

Blade Nzimande: The Comrade’s Comrade
South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande was one of Zuma’s most vocal supporters during the latter’s bid to stave off corruption and rape charges and during his presidential campaign. Nzimande joined the chorus of those saying they would die — and even kill — for Zuma.

This earned Nzimande a comfortable spot in the Cabinet. As the minister of higher education, Nzimande has remained largely in the background — but he is content with the privileges his status provides. For him to continue in his post, he needs to help Zuma secure a second term. Count on Nzimande to seek the limelight and launch attacks against anyone who threatens Zuma’s reign.

Nathi Mthethwa: The Henchman
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa is understood to be one of Zuma’s most trusted allies. In the lead-up to Polokwane, he was a key lobbyist in the successful campaign to raise Zuma to the presidency. Since then Mthethwa has not missed a beat when called on by the president.

Zuma even cast Mthethwa in the role of enforcer, to convince Gauteng ANC Youth League president Lebogang Maile to stand against the league’s national president Julius Malema in its 2011 elective conference. The youth league, in turn, has lambasted Mthethwa for allegedly using state resources to aid the drive to re-elect Zuma.

Angie Motshekga: Black Widow
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, along with her husband — ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga — are Zuma allies of old.

Ever-ready to jump to Zuma’s defence, Motshekga was among the first to challenge an ANC backlash following Malema’s first disciplinary hearing in 2010. She can also be counted upon to hurl vitriol in the president’s defence — regardless of who is in the firing line.

During the run-up to the 2009 elections, she called those deserting the ruling party for the newly formed Congress of the People “dogs”. The fiery Motshekga is not to be tangled with.

The support has not gone unnoticed and Zuma has become particularly fond of boasting about apparent successes in education during his tenure.

Sdumo Dlamini: The Rabble-Rouser
The president of Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Sdumo Dlamini is seen as the only leader in the labour movement actively pursuing Zuma’s re-election.

Although he denies the reports, Dlamini’s apparent support for a second term for Zuma has led him to butt heads with Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, whose own enthusiasm for Zuma has waned since the days he vowed to “kill and die” for the man. If Dlamini continues to ignore the script set out by the labour movement, he may be committing political suicide in much the same way as did his predecessor, Willie Madisha, who went into the Polokwane conference firmly behind Thabo Mbeki and promptly found himself relieved of his position within the trade federation.

If Zuma is successfully ousted, Dlamini may find himself having to ask the benched Madisha to scoot up.

MK Vets: The Chorus
The members of Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veteran’s Association are diehard Zuma supporters. Never shy to threaten fire and brimstone in defence of Zuma, they represent a large voting bloc that will play a key part in the succession story.

Whenever Malema has criticised or attacked Zuma’s decisions, their president, Kebby Maphatsoe, has leapt to the party leader’s defence. Maphatsoe even threatened to make the Western Cape ungovernable if premier Helen Zille didn’t stop “insulting” Zuma.

The veterans’ loyalty was recently rewarded with a hefty donation from the Gupta family — key Zuma patrons and alleged benefactors.

Follow the Mail & Guardian‘s coverage of the ANC’s 100th anniversary.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


High Court strikes down ‘paternalistic’ lockdown regulations

The order of unconstitutionality has been suspended for two weeks

L’Oréal workers demand a shutdown of local plant, citing Covid-19...

The French cosmetics company’s Midrand plant has recorded 16 Covid-19 cases in two weeks

Protective equipment for schools in KwaZulu-Natal goes ‘missing’

Without protective equipment, schools in uMlazi, Pinetown and Zululand won’t meet the already delayed deadline for reopening

Press Releases

Empowering his people to unleash their potential

'Being registered as an AGA(SA) means you are capable of engineering an idea and turning it into money,' says Raymond Mayekisa

What is an AGA(SA) and AT(SA) and why do they matter?

If your company has these qualified professionals it will help improve efficiencies and accelerate progress by assisting your organisation to perform better

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday