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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Death knell for Zuma cronies: ANC’s RET group loses power struggle

Radical economic transformation followers have become political orphans in a political no-man’s land.

The ANC’s once-noisy and powerful radical economic transformation (RET) group is no more – they lost the fight against their main target, Cyril Ramaphosa.

He and his silent troops remain standing. The Zuma empire, which burst onto the political scene with victory over Thabo Mbeki at Polokwane, has fallen.

Led by Jacob Zuma as the new boss of the party, they immediately began to turn the state upside down with their first target the Scorpions – which they disbanded.

Next were the intelligence community, which they turned into a tool to serve their party factional agenda.

The State Security Agency was looted with impunity and used to spy on political opponents of the establishment.

Then, the grand plan of state capture was unleashed to surrender the state into the hands of corrupt and rather unconventional corporates, the Guptas and Bosasa.

This turned almost all vital state-owned enterprises into cash cows. The Guptas not only became the employers of ministers but tried to steal the National Treasury to get their dirty hands on the fiscus.

But the RET faction’s corrupt power scheme failed because they were disorganised and had no strong foundation.

They were driven by a desire to avenge, after they felt isolated by Mbeki and later democratically defeated by party president Ramaphosa.

Their strategy, if they had one, was poor and doomed from the start: they were bold to openly target the powerful “white monopoly capital”, the real controllers of our economy.

That was thanks to the firm Bell Pottinger that led them down the garden path. The faction had a single agenda, inspired by their burning desire to unseat Ramaphosa from power and continue with their looting.

The grouping was fragmented with no ideological compass, hence it was easy to kill them merely with party processes and legal procedures to deal with their criminality.

Unwisely, instead of consolidating their support base around Zuma and Ace Magashule as factional leader and heir-apparent, this grouping insisted on riding on the back of the Ramaphosa-led ANC, while hoping he would be gone “in a matter of five years” and, in turn, they would return to power with a vengeance.

Their trick to divide and weaponise former uMkhonto we Sizwe veterans in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to become Zuma’s personal tool was defeated.

Instead, a united veterans’ league emerged under the ANC renewal project.

The Zuma faction is scattered all over – Zuma’s political life is destined to fade away, while Magashule and his confidante, Carl Niehaus, are licking their wounds as expelled members.

Instead of retiring gracefully, Zuma tried his luck as a post-retirement civic leader. Magashule is contemplating setting up his own party, while Niehaus’ similar ambition refuses to fly.

This clearly indicates it’s all about power for them. Now, RET followers have become political orphans in a political no-man’s land.

Those lured to join Ramaphosa’s renewal bandwagon obviously would never trade their cushy positions in the state and party for life in a political wasteland.

They would rather assimilate themselves into the renewal project, which has gathered momentum since Nasrec.

The revival of the ANC Youth League is clear testimony to that.

The league’s congress succeeded to isolate those in the former interim ANC national youth task team who showed factional tendencies to drag the youth into joining the new Zweli Mkhize faction, whose death fate is pre-determined.

The RET faction are now faced with two choices: to retreat into the political wilderness, or to comply and get onto the renewal train to face the ANC’s challenging future in a unity of purpose – with Ramaphosa at the helm…