Jacob Zuma and Ace Magashule linked to new party – report

Former president Jacob Zuma, along with ANC secretary-general, Ace Magashule, have been linked to a new political party, the African Transformation Movement (ATM), reports the Sunday Times.

The paper cites an alleged affidavit deposed by the general secretary of the South African Council of Messianic Churches in Christ (SACMCC), Buyisile Ngqulwana.

The new party intends to contest the coming election, while Ngqulwana details “consultation sessions” with both Zuma and Magashule about an alternative party to the Cyril Ramaphosa-led ANC, the Sunday Times said.

The religious body claims to have 30 million members — while the ATM will reportedly look to use its base in those churches when it goes to the polls.

“Zuma’s hand in the formation of the party has been the subject of speculation in ANC circles. Now, for the first time, Ngqulwana’s affidavit links him directly to its formation.

“In the affidavit, Ngqulwana puts Zuma and Magashule at the centre of the formation of the council and the new party,” the Sunday Times said.

In April 2018, the ATC applied for registration with the Independent Electoral Commission.

ANC factions

Factions in the ANC continue to sabotage the policy initiative and undermine president Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to revive the economy, Robert Schrire, a political science professor at the University of Cape Town, recently said.

Ramaphosa’s opponents have retained some top ANC and state posts and advocated policies such as land seizures that have harmed investor confidence.

“For the first time since 1994, South Africa is ruled directly by factions within the ANC who are strong on populist fervor but weak on sophistication, expertise and capacity,” Schrire said in an emailed report.

“The technocrats and administrators with their institutional memories and expertise have been marginalised. Ramaphosa, because of his weak political base, has not had the power to become the dominant force in both party and government.”

South Africa is due to hold elections on Wednesday, 8 May.

Opposition troubles

The ANC is not the only party which has faced speculation of a split in recent months. Several senior members of the Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s official opposition, have considered breaking away to form a new party because of disputes about its policy direction, Bloomberg reported recently, citing ‘people familiar with the matter’.

Some officials are concerned by the adoption of policies that shift it away from liberal roots ahead of national elections on May 8, including a “Secure our Borders” campaign that analysts say is a populist appeal to widen its support base.

Other disagreements include how to handle the issue of black economic empowerment, Bloomberg said.

The plans were put off until after the election because of concern that there wasn’t enough time to mobilise sufficient support, and there is a strong chance that the group will decide to press for change from within the DA instead, the person said.

Speculation of a split is wrong, said party leader Mmusi Maimane, in a March 18 interview.

“I dismiss those completely. The DA is a growing organisation. Along the way there will be people who want to hark back and already we are seeing that,” he said.

“For me the great difficulty is you get four or five people who speak to the media and seek to propose that they are splitting away from the DA and suddenly the DA is falling apart, which is a false narrative at its best.”

In a poll released last month, Ipsos predicted the DA would get 18% of the vote, down from 22.4% in 2014.

Read: 3 scenarios for South Africa after the elections

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Jacob Zuma and Ace Magashule linked to new party – report