Jacob Zuma Withdraws His Support For ANC as 2024 Elections Loom

Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s recent announcement that he will not support the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the upcoming 2024 national elections has ignited internal disputes within the party. Zuma, who led the ANC and the country from 2009 to 2018, cited dissatisfaction with the current ANC leadership, particularly President Cyril Ramaphosa, and declared his allegiance to the newly-formed Umkhonto we Sizwe party.

Zuma, 81, expressed his disillusionment with the ANC during a press conference in Soweto, stating, “After much reflection, it truly saddens me that the ANC of today is not the once great movement that we loved and were prepared to lay down our lives for.” He accused the party of deviating from its founding principles and being infiltrated by enemies, asserting that dissenting voices are being suppressed under Ramaphosa’s leadership.

The former president, who faced corruption allegations during his tenure and was sentenced to 15 months in jail in 2021, insisted that he would remain a member of the ANC but would not campaign for it in the upcoming elections. Zuma plans to cast his vote for the Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) party, emphasizing that he will “die a member of the ANC.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to Zuma’s announcement, stating, “Everyone in our country is free to express themselves in relation to who they will vote for and why they will vote for them.” While not directly addressing the personal attacks against him, Ramaphosa acknowledged Zuma’s decision and maintained the importance of individuals expressing their political preferences.

The ANC now grapples with internal divisions on how to handle Zuma’s withdrawal of support. Some party leaders advocate for his expulsion, accusing him of violating party rules and actively working against the ANC. One anonymous party leader emphasized, “He has defined himself outside the party and should therefore be taken through a disciplinary action and be expelled.” Others argue for caution, suggesting that ignoring Zuma might be a more effective strategy to prevent him from gaining victimhood status.

Zuma’s influence, despite his controversies, remains significant in some parts of the country. The July 2021 riots, which followed his imprisonment, were widely believed to be orchestrated by the former president. As the ANC faces the risk of losing its parliamentary majority for the first time since 1994, Zuma’s support for Umkhonto we Sizwe could potentially impact the opposition vote, splitting supporters from parties like the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance.

The ANC, once the symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle, is confronting challenges beyond internal dissent. Grievances against the party include allegations of corruption, economic mismanagement, rolling power cuts, and issues with state-owned companies like Eskom and Transnet. South Africans, facing economic difficulties and other crises, resonate with the sentiment that the ANC has failed to live up to its promises of transformation post-apartheid.

In this critical period leading up to the 2024 elections, the ANC faces a dilemma in addressing Zuma’s criticisms. The party must decide whether to confront him and risk amplifying his voice or ignore him and face the possibility of his message spreading through social media and other channels. Zuma’s continued influence, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, where the ANC’s vulnerability is pronounced, adds complexity to the party’s decision-making.

As South Africa navigates these political tensions, the ANC must confront the reality that its historical standing is being challenged, and the choices made in response to internal dissent may shape the outcome of the pivotal 2024 elections.


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