Fear and Loathing in Luthuli House
There is a kind of heat in the ANC, a kind of heat that can only be felt if you are in Luthuli house. Last night I scrawled our ever so reliable media. I watched and read as academics and journalists as they pondered the various predicaments facing the ruling party as it tries to discipline an inconvenient youth. But before I begin I think it is worth noting that although yesterday did burst out into violence, the media also did not do any good by exaggerating the whole saga. There was support for Malema, but I find it hard to believe that all of them were violent hooligans. The media must really throw caution to the wind when covering these subjects. The last thing we need is an ill informed and fearful riot police. We cannot afford to have another Ananias Mathe on our hands.
Now a lot of people are predicting that whatever decision comes out of Luthuli house will mean that relations between Zuma and Malema will be severed. I however take a stand that is contrary to public opinion. If you have ever watched the remake of Sleuth you might understand. There is a beautiful scene where Michael Caine tells Jude Law that humiliation is the closest was to a man’s heart. It binds you together. This notion is potently true when it comes to the relationship between Zuma and Malema.
The more embarrassed Malema is the more likely he is to tow the party line. And although I believe that he will receive a public spanking it certainly will not mean that there will now be a sudden up surge of anarchy within the youth league. What we saw yesterday was an incident of venting and remonstrating it will die down.
Anyone who believes that the president will keep his words and not run for a second term is sadly mistaken. And heading into 2012 Jacob Zuma knows that it would be inconvenient to alienate the youth league. But it would be even more inconvenient to have a youth league that thinks they can be tactless in public. Hence the timely action to have the top brass of the ANCYL disciplined now. Fact is it could have been done long ago, but it is better to do it now before that political theatre called electioneering kicks off.
But above and beyond that the reason why Zuma and the ANC old guard are so confident to go after Malema and his bunch is because they understand something that is vital within ANC politics. There is nothing that the youth league has that the ANC cannot go without. Votes? COSATU and the veterans bring in much more numbers than that. And by all accounts the ANCYL’s lack of discretion might have caused some damage to the ANC’s campaign during the local government elections.
Lastly and perhaps most significantly the youth league knows that if it has any chance of having its policies reach the discussion table at Luthuli house, Zuma is the only man that can make that happen. None of the other members of the ANC or possible future presidents are interested in even entertaining debates around nationalisation, land reform and the likes. People who could succeed Zuma such as Kgalema Motlante, or even the likes of Gwede Mantashe and Tokyo Sekwale are far too conservative for such radical ideas. And knowledge of that fact is the prime reason why the ANCYL will seemingly accept being reprimanded by Luthuli house and be done with it