Some supporters of the newly elected president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party are calling for his reinstatement as deputy state president. President Thabo Mbeki sacked Jacob Zuma three years ago over graft allegations. But the supporters reportedly sent a letter to the party chairman of the Limpopo Province demanding Zuma’s reinstatement because of what they say is the overwhelming support he received at the last ANC Congress in Polokwane, at which he was elected party president. Aubrey Matshiqi is a South African political analyst. From Johannesburg he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the demands by Zuma’s supporters are unrealistic.
“I think these are overly enthusiastic calls by those who achieved a victory in the defeat of Thabo Mbeki at the ANC Congress in December. And they want to add to his victory or the humiliation of Thabo Mbeki with demands that Jacob Zuma be reinstated to his former position as deputy head of state. Now, I do not think Jacob Zuma himself wants to return to government as deputy president. I think he can smell the first prize, that of president of South Africa and that is the prize I think he will be pursuing,” Matshiqi said.
He said although it was too soon to ascertain what most South Africans think about the call for Zuma’s reinstatement, those who are making the call are not political heavyweights in the ANC.
“It is too early to tell what ordinary people’s response will be, but you must bear in mind that the province that has called for the reinstatement of Jacob Zuma to the deputy presidency is not one of the political heavyweights provinces of the ANC. And therefore, they are unlikely to make waves either in the ANC itself or outside the ANC among ordinary South Africans. I don’t see this becoming a major talking point,” he noted.
Matshiqi said the demands for Zuma’s reinstatement would not have any significant impact in the country’s body politic.
“Well it’s not a credible demand, and I do not think it is going to win the support even of those who support Jacob Zuma. So I think it’s not going to happen,” Matshiqi said.
He said although there were speculations about a member of Jacob Zuma’s camp joining the cabinet, it might not come to fruition.
“In the first place there has been such a view inside the so-called Zuma camp for months prior to the ANC conference in December, but it is a view that is not going to find favor obviously with Thabo Mbeki the head of state. He has made it very clear that he is not going to reshuffle his cabinet. I doubt that Kgalema Motlanthe (new ANC deputy president) himself, the man who is supposed to be appointed by Thabo Mbeki as his deputy at the behest of the Zuma camp will want to enter government in that way because it’s not clear what role he will play,” he pointed out.
Matshiqi said there could be cracks that might open in the rank and file of Zuma supporters who significantly boosted him in his election as the president of the ANC.
“I think what is beginning to happen is that some who supported Zuma prior to the ANC congress in December have developed a fixation. And this fixation revolves around the fact that many forces are desperate as they are gathered around Zuma against Mbeki. And what may happen going forward is the situation where Mbeki ceases to be the glue that binds these desperate forces together. And what that it would do is to open the door for tensions and divisions inside the Zuma coalition,” Matshiqi said.