/ 19 April 2024

Myths to test and lay to rest

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Mini-Me: Duduzane Zuma, the leader of the All Game Changers party and Jacob Zuma’s son. Photo: Leon Sadiki/Getty Images


We’re into the home stretch, electorally speaking.

The date 29 May is close enough to almost smell that unique combination of Jeyes Fluid, dust and cardboard — eau de polling station — synonymous with the voting process in our fair Republic.

The heads on the ballot are confirmed — appeals involving uBaba kaStalingrad permitting — the codes of conduct are signed and we are all raring to go.

It’s a bit of a pity Ace Magashule’s African Congress for Transformation did not succeed in convincing the court to allow it to submit its list of candidates for the national and provincial elections late.

No shock, no surprise, but a pity nonetheless.

Not because late submission of party lists should be condoned by the court, or the Electoral Commission of South Africa, or because of a soft spot for Ace, but because a splendid opportunity to put another South African political myth to the test —and to rest — has been lost.

There would have been nothing better than to have Magashule’s claim that it was him who made the ANC in the Free State — and not the other way around — adjudicated, once and for all, by the voting populace of that province.

Myths abound in South African politics, often ultimately to the detriment of those who queue up to vote every five years, perpetuated all too frequently by those who should know better, ourselves included.

There is only one way to bust a myth — politically speaking — and that’s to put it to the voters and let them and not those involved in, or behind, the myth have their say.

In the case of Ace, this can unfortunately, no longer be done.

Magashule has difficulties with the criminal justice system, so he might not be eligible to stand as Mangaung mayor come local government elections 2026 either.

Then again, the National Prosecuting Authority does — like the Lord — move in mysterious ways, so the myth of Magashule might still face the rigour of an electoral test.

We shall see.

It is an equally great pity that Duduzane Zuma’s All Game Changers didn’t make the ballot, albeit for different reasons to Ace and the rest of the Actors.

The scenario is similar.

Junior Zuma has been chatting a run at the presidency ever since his old man was recalled by the ANC and has been all over social media and television in the build-up to 29 May.

It would be a thing of great beauty to find out from the voters whether Duduzane’s claims to leadership have any substance or if they are nothing more than the scripted performance of yet another overhyped Tik Tok influencer.

But now we might never get to know.

It’s been vibing mythbusters in South African politics since Jacob Zuma’s recall.

That in itself was the first test — the myth that the ANC would never call him to order for state capture and the looting of the fiscus — which was bust pretty firmly on Valentine’s Day in 2018.

Likewise the myth that he would rule the party by proxy through Magashule and the Five Years Comrades brigade within the ANC who made it into the party’s national executive committee at the first Nasrec conference.

That one went out of the window when Magashule was fired for suspending President Cyril Ramaphosa for suspending him.

So too did the myth of KwaZulu-Natal’s invincibility and preordained right to call the shots in the ANC.

That myth was bust, again at Nasrec, but in December 2023, along with the legend around Zweli Mkhize’s popularity within the party, when Ramaphosa secured his second term as ANC president at Khabazela’s expense.

On 29 May, we get to test the biggest myth of all — the invulnerability of the governing party — when we head to the polls again.

Are the fates of South Africa and the ANC forever entwined — written in the stars, as claimed by its leadership — by bonds that are impossible to break at the polling booth?

Or is the voting public about to call busted on that one too?

The myths that might  soon be bust are not just about those who currently govern us.

Will the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa actually be able to number the numbers and make 22+3+5 = 51 when the counting is over and the spoils are being divided?

Are the polls pushing an ANC loss, massive growth by Zuma’s victory and a coalition taking control of the country for real?

Or are they the tail, trying to wag the dog — another myth to be bust when the votes are counted after closing time on 29 May.