President Jacob Zuma spent much of the weekend pointing to everyone but himself for the current deep divisions within his own party and the general political landscape in South Africa.
Addressing supporters in KwaZulu Natal on Saturday, Zuma was speaking ‘off the cuff’ to ANC supporters in the province, painting himself as the victim in an international conspiracy to destabilise the country.
Notably, Zuma was trying to instil in his supporters that the government needed to have full control over the country’s finances in order to ensure economic freedom for all. He said that in South Africa, all the country’s money is still in white hands, and that those who were fighting against his reforms were, in fact, on the payrolls of these masters.
In particular, the president said that it was these unnamed ‘white capital masters’ that forced him to fire his recently-appointed finance minister, Des van Rooyen after he was elected to replace former minister Nhlanhla Nene.
He said that he had to make the change (to reappoint Pravin Gordhan) because ‘those with money’ would “burn the country down”, if they did not have their way.
Zuma’s statements fall in with the president’s narrative of being a victim in South African politics – ignoring all cases and rulings against him, and evidence of lies and misinformation – where he is just trying to do good, and his enemies are trying to keep him down.
These are just some of the key players which president Jacob Zuma has blamed for his and the ANC’s political crisis:
An easy target, Zuma and his ANC have used every opportunity presented to paint opposition parties – particularly the DA – as disruptive forces who are anti-freedom and anti-economic reform.
The DA, in particular, has been accused of being paid off by foreign powers, and are said to be planning to bring back apartheid, by the ANC.
Most recently, the DA has been accused by the ANC of trying to govern the country through the courts, and using the utterances of ANC members (especially the stalwarts) to push their own political agendas.
The EFF has not suffered the same label, however, the ANC has often put them in the same camp as the DA (particularly after the EFF helped elect DA mayors in key metros), and has generally disregarded the party as ‘loud but irrelevant’.
The foreign “Third Force”
Repeating conspiracy rhetoric from the ANC, Zuma told supporters that there were ‘unnamed international states’ which are using money to influence local parties to move and speak against the ANC.
In almost every situation where the ANC and its leadership was brought into question – with the Nkandla saga, state capture, et al – the party has name-dropped the CIA, often accusing main players in anti-Zuma investigations as being pawns of US or UK powers.
This includes former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who has faced the accusation more than once. According to Zuma, the so-called ‘third force’ behind political instability in South Africa is against the country’s relationships with Brazil, India, Russia and China.
Zuma said that he could not speak freely at the gathering because of the media presence. Zuma and his presidency have on a number occasions told supporters that the media was spreading propaganda against him.
The media has been blamed for spreading the “toxic” narrative that the ANC was fighting within itself, and were trying to vilify the president.
The media has been accused of sowing seeds of discord, trying to confuse the populace in an attempt to seize control for their white benefactors, or to provoke an “Arab Spring” in the country, to bring about regime change.
The SABC and media groups such as The New Age are seen as counter to ‘white media’, however.
Undisciplined ANC members
Controversially, Zuma told supporters that it was not him who was stealing money from the state – as he has been accused of time and time again – but rather other members of the party (those who are against him).
He knows this, because he watched them do it.
While admitting that there was stealing going on – and he knew it and did nothing about it – the statement was also a veiled threat to ANC members that he was willing reveal the dirt on other party members.
The president also spoke out against the 100-plus ANC stalwarts who had spoken out against him, saying that they had no place in the party if they did not address party issues through party structures.
The ANC itself has implored its members – including ministers and deputy ministers – to keep its views on the party to themselves, and to address any issues within the party structures.