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Game changing outcome expected

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Are the celestial bodies aligned in favour of either ANC presidential hopeful? Having the scent of victory is not the same as winning

UNITY FAÇADE: ANC presidency hopefuls Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi

DR NKOSAZANA Dlamini Zuma (NDZ) and Cyril Ramaphosa (CR) have each won enough votes to be nominated president of the ANC.

For months, South Africans have watched the race for Luthuli House and ultimately the Union Buildings and Tuynhuys unfold like something from the realm of the primaries for the US presidency – sans the accompanying razzmatazz.

American presidential elections, with all their accompanying media hype and hullabaloo, hold out a strange fascination for those who insist on celebrating the virtues of “evolved” democracies over the fledgling.

The improbable resurrection of Lindiwe Sisulu and Matthews Phosa; the mesmerising emergence of Baleka Mbete; the mercurial performances of Jeff Radebe and Zweli Mkhize and the rise of Dlamini Zuma and Ramaphosa have revealed remarkably little of the real story behind the headlines that has yet to be told.

How did the five other presidential hopefuls, apart from Ramaphosa and Dlamini Zuma, convince themselves that, despite the thinness of their rivals’ résumés, they could somehow beat the odds to ultimately become democratic South Africa’s fifth president?

Outside the mainstream media there has been a growing consensus that CR’s “new deal” is a proxy for monopoly capital, designed to offset NDZ’s pledge for “radical economic transformation”.

Since the liberal intelligentsia exercises a disproportionate influence on media common sense and an entrenched and deeply partisan system of business-as-usual, NDZ’s campaign began to shape a part of the political discourse.

Apart from the usual lamentation about her inability to make the type of inspiring speeches the US presidential candidates deliver, there has been a familiar outpouring of endorsements by poor blacks that the rich and privileged have been shown their place by a coalition of the marginalised.

Most importantly, there has been unconcealed confidence about the deflation of the monopoly capital agenda of apartheid’s beneficiaries which centred on the denial of empowerment rights for neglected black citizens.

The implications were clear: the age of conservatism that presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki heralded since 1994 and which Kgalema Motlanthe upheld under his short-lived watch must be rolled back under the campaign narratives of transformation, land redistribution, free education and the advancement of the ANC’s 2012 resolution to inaugurate the establishment of a state bank.

Democracies are held together by trust. Whether Ramaphosa’s expectation to succeed Mandela in the race for the Union Buildings in 1999 and his unknown new deal can overcome NDZ’s social agenda campaign, underpinned by transformation, must await the judgment of history.

But, as one observer remarked, CR is “akin to the man who walked across the wet beach sand and left no footprints”.

One of his liabilities was that he was lumped with other alleged “predatory pest-politicians” caught up in scandals.

Although he reportedly admitted to one extramarital affair, he dismissed this smear campaign of sleaze revelations.

It is hard to talk oneself down from such allegations. It is not enough for Caesar’s wife to be clean. One must be above suspicion.

Can NDZ survive her so-called lacklustre performance at the African Union?

Aside from the mixed reaction to NDZ’s tenure as chairman of the AU and her Sarafina albatross, she hasn’t been fingered for such scandals. Whether bashing her on those records alone will pay off is to be determined this weekend.

As for the question of whether either can govern, the picture is different. Leaders respond to (or should) feedback from their constituents.

That it takes securing just over 2400 ANC electoral votes to redefine the tone of society for the next five to ten years should be apparent.

In this watershed moment, it will be up to the nearly 5000 delegates to the ANC’s elective conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg to decide who is the inspirational leader that will project a new, purposeful identity for the party and ensure that it succeeds in the 2019 general elections.

They will be looking for a leader who will renew the party’s commitment to the Freedom Charter; ensure public ownership of industry; end austerity and provide quantitative easing for people rather than bank on mainstream economics; create a state bank to support sensible, genuine economic growth; nationalise the railways, harbours and post office; reintroduce public utility road transport; renew the party’s commitment to scrapping university tuition fees and restore student maintenance grants; provide decent homes for all through a significant building programme and institute rent control in the private sector; secure a fully funded national health service integrated with social care; and reinvigorate the nuclear energy programme.

The whole country expects a game-changing outcome from the ANC elective conference.

Are the celestial bodies aligned in favour of either ANC presidential hopeful? Having the scent of victory is not the same as winning.