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Could Zuma be the architect of his ‘political conspiracy’?

History is beset with illustrious men whose ascendancy to power owe to the employment of manipulative schemes intended to provoke innate emotions of the general mass of desperate people. The presence of particular conditions is requisite for the purpose of aspirant leaders to capture the imagination of people and inspire hope. When society is torn by social and political strife, inflation and economic problems, it is easily susceptible to the treachery of leaders who come with promises of hope.

Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) was most artful in imposing his ideals upon the Italians. Fatigued by endless riots, political and economic instability caused by World War I, as well as enthused by the need to restore their country to its dignity and former glory, Italians succumbed to the trappings of fascism promised by Mussolini.

Mussolini was impressive; crowds, hungry for change and rescue from their political and economic misery, ate out of the palm of his hand. He was dramatic, blessed with contradicting opinions and true facts ever eluding him, but his messages were powerful and moving.

Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) in Germany also played on the misery of the Germans suffering from the dreadful effects of World War I. The people of Germany were on the verge of a revolution; they were desperate for someone to pull them out of poverty and restore their faith in their country. Hitler was a skilled orator and effective in disseminating propaganda techniques to manipulate the minds of people into believing the ideals he was imposing as the absolute truth.

While we are supposed to learn from history in order that we do not repeat its vices, there are those who deliberately employ lessons of history to advance their cause.

Having heard and read the judgment passed by Judge Nicholson on the case involving the president of the ANC, Jacob Zuma — and having witnessed together with millions of South Africans the political drama that unfolded in 2002, in which the roles of protagonist and antagonist swapped continuously between the two main characters, President Mbeki and Jacob Zuma — I have concluded that the possibility exist that Jacob Zuma may have orchestrated the political conspiracy against himself in order to secure his ascendancy to power.

Judge Nicholson in his judgment on September 12 2008 said that “the applicant [Jacob Zuma] complains of the legality of such a procedure [his dismissal as deputy president of the country]”.

Zuma told the judge: “Shortly before the 20th (on or about Sunday 6 June 2005), I was requested by the president of the RSA, through others, to resign in the light of the Shaik judgment. The request at that time was hard to justify on any legal basis.”

In November 2007, Mosiuoa Lekota, Minister of Defence — following protracted insinuations that Zuma’s dismissal was attributed to a political plot against him — said that Zuma had asked to be dismissed rather than resign after Schabir Shaik was found guilty of fraud and corruption. Lekota indicated that a meeting between Mbeki and Zuma was held prior to Zuma being relieved of his duties, where both agreed that Zuma could no longer maintain his position as deputy president of the country.

According to Lekota, Mbeki and Zuma then briefed the extended national working committee of the ANC. Lekota said that “… in that briefing they said the president had suggested that perhaps the deputy president should resign. But comrade Zuma prevailed on the president by saying, ‘Rather you dismiss me, because if I resign it might suggest that I’m admitting guilt, when I’m not. Therefore, the best thing is that you dismiss me.'”

As maintained by Lekota, the speech that Mbeki read in Parliament on June 14 2005 announcing the dismissal of his deputy had first been read and approved by Zuma.

It is rather intriguing that Zuma stood before a court of law and suggested he was informed of his dismissal through others. Either Jacob Zuma committed perjury in his submissions to Judge Nicholson or the Minister of Defence was economical with the truth — which would be rather insulting to the trust and confidence with which the people of South Africa absorbed his statements.

Mbeki revealed in an interview with the editor of the Sunday Times, Mondli Makhanya, and political editor Wally Mbhele how he and Zuma met privately in 2005 to discuss Zuma’s allegations of a conspiracy against him. In the interview Mbeki said Zuma had confided in him about the political plot against him but was not keen on members of the ANC’s national working committee being presented with the contents of their discussion. According to Mbeki, Zuma felt that he should not tell the NEC about the discussion “because if we did, they wouldn’t solve any problems, they would create new problems”.

Mbeki went on to mention that both he and Zuma presented a report to the national executive committee (NEC) about allegations of political conspiracy against Zuma, spanning more than 15 years. The NEC at the time came to the conclusion that there was no conspiracy against Zuma.

Given the sequence of events as presented by Mbeki, Zuma could not have approached the president with allegations of conspiracy if he truly believed that the president was behind a plot against him. It would not make sense that Zuma would approach an instigator of a plot against him with the expectation that this instigator would cease his devious conduct.

That Zuma had refused to provide details of his alleged conspiracy to the then NEC by citing the possibility of new problems being created raises serious questions. Was Zuma perhaps waiting for the perfect moment to create these “new problems”? The intensity and rigour with which these allegations of political conspiracy were churned out was more pronounced following Zuma’s election as president of the ANC. There appeared to have been a systematic marshalling of propaganda to manipulate unsuspecting and loyal supporters of the ANC since Polokwane, given the favourable occurrence of events during the course of Zuma’s troubles with the law.

Zuma had been a close comrade of Mbeki’s for more than three decades. During that period he had observed and possibly learned of the manner in which one rises to power. Mbeki ascended to the helm of the ANC through mobilisation of support from the ANCYL, then led by Peter Mokaba; the ANC Women’s League, then led by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela; Cosatu, then led by Mbhazima Shilowa; and the SACP, then led by Charles Nqakula. In 2007, when heading to the ANC national conference in Polokwane, Zuma had mobilised similar support and emerge victorious under the false guise of victimhood.

In the same manner that the majority of Italians and Germans, besieged after World War I by political and economic misery, found solace and rejuvenation of spirit in the advent of change to the populist leadership of Mussolini and Hitler, the multitude of poor ANC supporters see their current unfortunate economic circumstances as failure on the part of the Mbeki government to release them from their misery. The present political and economic climate is fertile for those aspiring for higher office to plant the seed of discord.

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  • Sentletse Diakanyo's blogs may contain views on any subject which may upset sensitive readers. Parental guidance is strongly advised.