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ANC is transmogrifying into Zanu-PF

The Zanufication of the African National Congress proceeds apace. With every week that passes our governing party more closely resembles its Zanu-PF counterpart in Zimbabwe.

In an apparently co-ordinated campaign, opponents are vilified and delegitimised. It seems that at best they are unwitting dupes of imperialist Western interests, lacking appropriate revolutionary consciousness as decreed by the politburo of the South African Communist Party.

At worst they are paid agents of malevolent foreign intelligence agencies or of that well-known proxy for rapacious capitalist interests, the opposition Democratic Alliance.

For the past two years, from the moment that she turned her attention to taxpayer money spent on President Jacob Zuma’s private compound at Nkandla, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has endured a torrent of abuse. The levels of vitriol directed against her — after all, not a politician but a public servant holding an office whose functions are reverentially enshrined in the Constitution — are perhaps unmatched in SA history.

Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe last year publicly accused Madonsela of being an “enemy agent” for America’s Central Intelligence Agency. When challenged to retract and apologise or face court action, Maphatsoe had to back down, having not a shred of evidence to substantiate his slur.

The ANC learnt from this incident. Such attacks are now made under the cover of parliamentary privilege. ANC MPs last month charged the traitorous Madonsela with being “economical with the truth” and “disrespecting Parliament”.

Chillingly, it is now the judiciary that is under sustained pressure, with thinly veiled threats.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe this week lashed out on television, singling out two high court divisions for their “totally negative narrative” and basically accusing them of having a secret agenda “to create chaos” for the government. “That’s our view. We know if it doesn’t happen in the Western Cape High Court, it will happen in the Northern Gauteng.”

On Radio 702 Mantashe went further, saying that rulings against the government were a “worrisome trend” that indicated a “political judiciary”, which was interfering with the constitutional separation of executive and judicial powers.

This is a crisis that has been building slowly, in response to government being been handed reversal after reversal by the courts. What sparked Mantashe’s anger, however, is the high court ruling in favour of human rights groups, that Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir should be detained in respect of an International Criminal Court warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Such court humiliations are not, as the ANC proclaims, because the judiciary has some kind of secret agenda. They occur because this is a government that combines, in equal measure, an ignorance of the Constitution with an indifference to the rule of law.

Previously the ANC could shroud its attacks on the judiciary behind the assertion that the courts were the stronghold of old, white judges nostalgic for the days of the apartheid regime. But that will no longer wash.

The higher, supreme and constitutional courts are entirely transformed to ANC demographic strictures. It is telling that government’s defeat on the al-Bashir debacle was handed to it by a full Bench, with two of the three judges being black.

In the al-Bashir judgment, Gauteng High Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo excoriates the government, warning that a democratic state based on the rule of law cannot exist if the government ignores its constitutional obligations and fails to abide by court orders. He further instructs the national director of public prosecutions to investigate bringing criminal charges against the government in this regard.

“A court is the guardian of justice, the corner-stone of a democratic system based on the rule of law. If the state, an organ of state or state official does not abide by court orders, the democratic edifice will crumble stone-by-stone until it collapses and chaos ensues.

“Where the rule of law is undermined by government it is often done gradually and surreptitiously. Where this occurs … the court must fearlessly address this through its judgments, and not hesitate to keep the executive within the law, failing which it would not have complied with its constitutional obligations to administer justice to all persons alike without fear, favour or prejudice,” the judgment concludes.

The Mlambo judgment is a clarion call. It should but probably won’t be heeded by Zuma’s government, as the ANC increasingly willingly transmogrifies into Zanu-PF.

Follow WSM on Twitter @TheJaundicedEye


  • This Jaundiced Eye column appears in Weekend Argus, The Citizen, and Independent on Saturday. WSM is also a book reviewer for the Sunday Times and Business Day. Follow @TheJaundicedEye.


  1. peter lawton peter lawton 27 June 2015

    William, I wish I hadn’t read the thoughts you express in this article. But I did. And in my inner ear I can hear the voices of the past telling the future that these things would happen. And they are happening. The citizenry has only about a year or so to turn things around. If there is no turn-around in the 2016 Local Govt elections, then we will know clearly that the people have rejected a rule-of-law based democratic future and chosen one ruled by warlocks and warlords.

  2. Andy O'Gorman Andy O'Gorman 27 June 2015

    Sadly I have to agree with this frightening development.

  3. Rory Short Rory Short 27 June 2015

    The above title is a good catch phrase but it is, hopefully, also too simplistic in the sense that the ANC is, I would guess, a far more complex organisation than ZANU-PF. In that complexity lies some hope for the future both of the ANC and of South Africa.

  4. MrK001 MrK001 28 June 2015

    Another whinge about the ‘rule of law’. And I had so hoped that the ANC was about to redistribute the land and nationalize the mines.

    Only in William Saunderson-Meyer’s mind does the present ANC leadership represent the ZANU-PF, a proud liberation organisation that has made good on the promise of Liberation – the return of the land, and benefiting from the people’s own natural resources through a very modest 51% Zimbabwean share ownership of foreign investment.

    By the way, when is De Beers going to be nationalized. The ANC/South Africa hold all the power, they own the diamond mines, and can get a hell of a better deal than what they have now.

  5. wordscanhelp wordscanhelp 28 June 2015

    Government is always in trouble because it is increasingly out of line and against the national good. Madonsela has the true spirit we want to see and she has our support for a reason – she is for us. The government are for themselves and their cronies.

    It is only an impartial judiciary and educating the populace about the constitution that will get us through this phase of ANC power grabbing. Those tired old accusations of spying and outside interference are outdated paranoia from pre-independence days, those guys need to get up to speed with today’s reality and their responsibilities, for which the nation pays them. They are supposed to be servants of the nation.

  6. Solly Mothabela Solly Mothabela 28 June 2015

    This is very well structured argument. Truly this is the beginning of anarchy but the unfortunate part is that our political dynamics are unique. We have a multiparty democracy, strong civil society organisation and a vibrant media.

  7. MrK001 MrK001 29 June 2015

    Interesting that the author writes about the ‘rule of law’, but not about justice.

  8. Paul Linton Paul Linton 29 June 2015

    Here’s the problem with that……De Beers has exactly two mines left in SA and one of those is close to finished. The rest, and by far their biggest mines, are in Botswana and Canada. I am always amazed at the level of ignorance shown by the nationalise the mines brigade.

  9. Sarah Sarah 29 June 2015

    Why do we have so many Zimbabweans here in ZAR if life under Zanu-PF is utopia?

  10. Ren Ren 29 June 2015

    Excellent article. Thank you sir.

  11. R Connell R Connell 29 June 2015

    Oddly enough, I was reading about Mugabe and Zanu PF last night (with candle due to the load shedding) I thought the same thing..

  12. Nuance Nuance 30 June 2015

    What is Zanufication? Surely the author is not equating two sovereign and unique nations that have different historical contexts and dynamics? It would have been quite interesting if the author had provided some insight and analysis into all the events he has mentioned. There was no nuance or unique perspective provided by the author in this article. If I as a reader agree with the author, I cannot recommend this article to convince a fellow concerned citizen. Instead the author has regurgitated news stories that we have all read and understood. What is worse is that the author then uses inflammatory words like “Zanufication” (and all the fear mongering that word implies) without at the very least providing case studies that can illustrate how this is happening. How can I begin to decide if I agree or disagree? Disappointing…

  13. Gerry Leibel Gerry Leibel 30 June 2015

    Good point. The author starts off drawing a comparison between the two countries’ ruling parties, but fails to back up his assertion by omitting to give examples of how Zanu-PF and the ANC are similar. Zanu-PF is only mentioned in the intro and the last paragraph.

    I’m not a huge fan of Zanu-PF, but I’m also not a huge fan of poorly written opinion, or analysis (I can’t quite figure out what the piece is meant to be).

  14. Chris_Lawrence Chris_Lawrence 30 June 2015

    But it is not in the interest of “those guys” to “get up to speed with today’s reality” – that’s the point.

  15. Chris_Lawrence Chris_Lawrence 30 June 2015

    I would say we are in the relatively early stages of a transition to tyranny, not anarchy. Our civil society organisations are not as strong and our media are not as vibrant as they were. To have a truly functioning multiparty democracy it must be practically possible to remove a party from power. Universal suffrage is not enough.

  16. Paul Bluewater Paul Bluewater 26 July 2015

    I’m surprised by some of the commentary below??
    This is a statement of the obvious…we all know what it means in our own way, and we all see increasing examples of it every day….”Zanufication”, or something like it, is the toxic sludge at the foot of the slippery slope we are now hurtling headlong towards, with no brakes and no way back up!
    It is when the social spend exceeds our income, and the crocodile we have created gets hungrier and hungrier. It is when the pool of available criminals grows large, and the pool of available victims shrinks small. It is the place where justice is replaced by impunity. A place where ignorance and rewritten histories shape a sick world for sick minds…

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