Friday Briefing: Inside Zuma’s world of plots and conspiracies
Zuma’s struggle credentials under fire
When former president Jacob Zuma sat down to testify at the state capture inquiry this week, perhaps the last thing on most South Africans’ list of questions for him, was whether he has been a victim of a plot to remove him from the ANC leadership for the past 29 years.
Zuma’s opening statement to the commission for the first time gave us insight into the reasoning of a man who has laughed and coughed and joked at a variety of accusations for the past 10 years. What we heard was a story of conspiracies by foreign intelligence organisations, spies, suicide bombers and poisonings. The former ANC president accused comrades of betraying the struggle by spying for the apartheid regime, causing upset among many in the party. Some are openly questioning whether it wasn’t Zuma himself – instead of those he accused – who could have been compromised in the dangerous and explosive struggle years.
Adriaan Basson and Pieter du Toit went hunting for insights from state insiders and uncovered fascinating details.
Alet Janse van Rensburg
News24 Opinions Editor
Adriaan Basson and Pieter du Toit
Among some in the old guard of the ANC, those who were part of the preparations to return from exile and who worked on the transition to government, there seems to be anger about Zuma’s statements about spies and agents in the party leadership. There is even increased discussions about Zuma’s role in the liberation struggle, with some questioning whether it wasn’t Zuma himself – instead of those he named this week – who could have been compromised in the struggle years.
If the office of the president could be trashed in the way Jacob Zuma did, who does Justice Ray Zondo and his commission think they are? We shouldn’t have been surprised that Zuma started where it mattered most for him: attack the legitimacy of the very same commission whose rules he had just pledged to folllow.
In recalling ANC exile history in the context of the state capture commission, it is critical that we do not fall into a similar, if inverted, conspiracy narrative to the one Jacob Zuma is now trying to spin. There is a simple explanation for attempts at his removal from the ANC. At least from the late-1980s there was a general perception within the party leadership that Zuma was an unsuitable person to be entrusted with security and intelligence related activity.