While alliance partners may be up in arms about the ANC’s decision to harness Jacob Zuma’s popularity while campaigning for the 2019 elections, President Cyril Ramaphosa seemingly has Msholozi’s back.
In an interview with French broadcaster France24, which can be watched below, Ramaphosa reaffirmed what he saw as Zuma’s commitment to the ANC.
“I have complete faith and confidence that president Zuma will remain a member of the ANC until the last day of his life in this world,” the president said.
“Zuma will remain a member of the ANC until the last day of his life,” Ramaphosa continued.
“The ANC is in his blood, and I don’t ever see him turning against the organisation that made him what he is.”
Ramaphosa’s statement about Zuma’s loyalty comes amid recurring reports of a breakaway political party that may be launched by Zuma’s followers.
READ MORE: How the ANC breakaway party is being planned
In May, The Citizen reported that rumours about this new party had angered the former president.
His son, Edward Zuma, was quoted as saying the former president remained a committed member of the governing party, and that he would continue campaigning for it ahead of the 2019 elections and any other election to follow.
However in June, The Citizen’s Erik Naki reported that former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo and his loyalists had allegedly been to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) three times already for reasons concerning the new party.
It was reported the name African Transformation Congress (ATC) was already being touted.
A source said: “Although Zuma claims to know nothing about the plan to establish this party, he is highly involved.”
It was claimed by the source that Zuma knew what was happening and that was why he was mobilising certain marginal church leaders.
However, reports in the Huffington Post that the party would be launched in the next two weeks seem to have come to nought, and whether or not the party will be launching at all remains to be seen.
Getting Zuma to campaign for the ANC can be seen as acknowledgement by the party that he is still hugely popular and that they still need him for votes.
ANC chairperson of the KZN’s Musa Dladla region, Nonhle Mkhulisi, said in February that Zuma would be “on the ground” campaigning for the party leading up to 2019.
“We know president Zuma as a cadre of the movement. He will join us on the ground when we mobilise ordinary South Africans to vote for the ANC. Zuma still has a contribution to make as an ex-officio member of the ANC NEC [national executive committee],” she told News24, adding they still needed Zuma’s strength and experience.
More recently, Fikile Mbalula confirmed Zuma’s role in the campaign. Speaking to EWN, he said: “Yes, we will deploy him to basically respond to the call of doing work for the organisation as a loyal and disciplined member.”
Mbalula said fixing divisions in ANC structures was a priority, and it was likely that mending fences with the Zuma faction would be a part of this.
Despite research conducted by the party itself, which showed that Zuma’s alleged misconduct contributed to its decline at the polls in 2016, it seems they still feel they need the former president for votes.