A Pattern: Analysis of South Africa’s Real Political Power Scam


South Africa’s forthcoming elections in May this year will be a mere earth-tremor in its preparations for the earthquake of the real political power strategies and struggles leading up to the elections in 2019. After the May elections this year, new political party alliances will be formed. The goal is South Africa’s complete political transformation with new alliances taking over. Following is an unscientific, however, strategic pattern analysis.

Since 1999, former Bantustan Transkei military dictator, General Bantu Holomisa, has been preaching the formation of an opposition alliance to challenge the ruling ANC.

When the breakaway political party, the ‘Congress of the People’ (COPE), split into two after the fallout between COPE’s leaders, Mosiuoa Terror Lekota and Mbazima Sam Shilowa, the new breakaway joined General Holomisa’s United Democratic Movement (UDM).

Having been in good contact with the ‘Economic Freedom Front (EFF)’ and the ‘Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU)’ from their onset, the former Transkei general stated shortly after the COPE breakaway had joined his UDM, “This is just the first manifestation of a black dominated coalition.” Holomisa added in his ‘Sunday Independent’ newspaper interview, “Our people (South African electorate) are bitter. That’s why I say this election can be the beginning of real change in South Africa. It will come slowly. But, it is coming.”

Under South Africa’s late former president Nelson Mandela and his ANC-led government, Holomisa served as a deputy minister of tourism. Soon he fell out with the ruling African National Congress (ANC). He then formed a new political party with former colonial-apartheid minister of defence, Roelf Meyer. Meyer had served to the end of the white apartheid era as minister of defence under his former colonial-apartheid president and one of the secret Boer brotherhood (Afrikaaner Broederbond, AB) senior members, FW de Klerk. But, Meyer soon opted out of his UDM with Holomisa.

Is General Bantu Holomisa the dark horse in the forthcoming elections? When will a new alliance between his UDM and COPE-2, AMCU, possibly a breakaway from NUMSA, Agang SA and a host of political parties on the fringe be formed? He talks of a “forced coalition”.

Like Holomisa, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s (NUMSA) secretary-general, Irvine Jim, also hails from the Eastern Cape.

A host of small political parties on the fringe would join the new alliance Holomisa lobbies towards. He hopes to win 5 percent to 6 percent of the national vote.

Agang SA’s Mamphela Ramphele has no hope at all to lead any political party, not to mention, becoming president of the country. She is just too erudite with no foot on the ground. She is accused of being unable to complete anything she touches.

As Mamphela Ramphele shares the same donors with the Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Helen Zille, she would serve her masters better in the Holomisa camp. Though the DA has similar plans for 2019, they differ. The fallout between Ramphele and Zille seemed to be part of a strategy, yet to unfold.

The difference between Holomisa and Ramphele is quite obvious. Despite having been a former Bantustan military dictator, Holomisa remains hands-on and therefore, relevant to local politics. He is respected in the Eastern Cape and has earned his stars. Unlike elitist Ramphele, boots-on-the-ground Holomisa is not just an airy-fairy token for the many well-heeled international Western interest groups.

In fact, Holomisa is by far the strongest and most credible of all political leaders in the opposition. All other opposition leaders are lightweight in comparison. If the ANC could take him back into its fold, the thunder of a breakaway to the left from the ruling party by 2019 would be thwarted. The centre of the ANC would hold then. 

The DA would to go it alone until 2019. It would continue with its strategic overt and covert efforts to weaken the ruling ANC. By its own admission, the DA plans to take over the Union Buildings in Pretoria. However, it seems that the DA has realised that it might not quite make it on its own. Therefore, the new DA strategy seems to attempt a coalition agreement with the ANC by 2019, after the ruling party has been severely undermined and weakened.

A long serving, senior member of COSATU’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) and of the ANC leadership said, “The DA and its backers seem to work on a group of COSATU affiliates. Those include the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), the Chemical Workers Union (CWU), and regional representations of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), excluding its headquarters.”

He explained his above-mentioned point; “The opposition Democratic Alliance would need to build a large enough powerbase in preparation for a serious strategy of forming a coalition agreement with the ANC by 2019.”

The role and the timing of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) seem to depend on its current leader’s situation. The question mark over Julius Malema’s political future and his leadership of the EFF would be addressed, once the provisional sequestration order is finalised. Malema would see his political aspirations for a seat in Parliament evaporate, as being an unrehabilitated insolvent would prevent him from being a member of the National Assembly. 

Malema would just be dumped then, as a Dali Mpofu might hope to quickly take over leadership of the EFF. However, he seems to lack credibility. 

Some 90 percent of the Marikana mineworkers hail from the Eastern Cape. Even the Sangoma, who addressed the crowds shortly before they clashed with the police, was from Pondoland in the Eastern Cape.

In the above context, it would seem that the timing could be right for the EFF to join the new coalition after the elections, Holomisa works hard for. New political parties would converge. They could vote in a block in Parliament with a new, now defunct ‘Namibian-style Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA)’ type of coalition.

The new executive of the emerging political alliance possibly led by Bantu Holomisa would then show its hand. Would disgraced former COSATU general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi become the shadow economic minister? Would the likes of AMCU head, Joseph Matunjwa, NUMSA secretary general Irvine Jim, Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele and a possible new head of EFF, Dali Mpofu, be part of the new executive? If that would be the case, could one assume that the AmaXhosa in the Eastern Cape attempt to get back into national power?

There could be power wrangling between Holomisa and Vavi for the top post, if the above pattern analysis is realised. Jim too could enter the new power struggle and a Dali Mpofu could aim at finance. This would be the perfect storm.

All roads leading to those power political developments point to one of the country’s strategists, former recalled president, Thabo Mbeki. He was accused of being behind the breakaway formation of COPE after his defeat in Polokwane in December 2007. COPE consists mainly of Mbeki’s followers. Allegedly, he was also seen with Bantu Holomisa, Mamphela Ramphele, Julius Malema, Mosiuoa Lekota and many others, who seem to share a common interest in destroying the ANC. Thabo Mbeki remains strategic-politically very active.

And, so are the owners of the economy as well as the media barons. Initially it seems as if the corporate mainstream media has become fair and friendlier towards the ANC. Singing the same hymn from the same page of the same hymnbook in the same tune, the media subtly tries to push the ANC to exorcise president Jacob Zuma.

Currently, there seems to be a drive to cause a migration from the ANC, while creating a coalition of interest to the left of South Africa’s ruling party. Definite emergent patterns are taking place. NUMSA’s Irvine Jim announced the breakaway from the tripartite structure, forming a new, socialist political party. 

The political manoeuvring seems centred around South Africa’s platinum mining industry in its belt outside Rustenburg. It is currently one of the biggest revenue-earner for the country.

The South African rand currency value is weakened and wealth creation phased out. 

The strikers are used as cannon fodder, as their demands for a wage increase of R12 500 seems too difficult to realise. It would give the owners of the platinum mining industry around Rustenburg a gap to close their mines down. The platinum deposits in the Limpopo province seem to be more attractive than those around Rustenburg. In other words, the strikes would suit the owners of the platinum industry.  

If the above pattern analysis proves to be a reality by 2019, it could be described as a ‘real power political scam’, as it has indeed little to do with ‘democracy’.

• Udo W. Froese is a non-institutionalised, independent political and socio-economic and columnist based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

March 2014
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