Nkandla Tea Meeting: Did Ramaphosa and Malema’s deal fail to convince a sober Zuma?


By: Clyde Ramalaine

Have you ever wondered what the ANC in uncontested sense bequeathed SA? I have elsewhere postulated the true legacy of the ANC to a South African society beyond all it in 25 years may have attained or failed to various degrees is its undeniable intricate, layered and capital serving factional identity. It is this aspect of the ANC that continues to polarise South Africa as a society. ANC factional, fractional fights personality support of politicians is long no more restricted to pure organisational misfits but it increasingly defines the inescapable DNA of the South African society. One could even analyse the factional identity of the ANC always had unseen at times and very visible other times hands of external role players. It is my submission that every sphere detailing a South African society is contaminated and those who can’t escape the factional identity of the ANC among other include official Opposition parties, Judiciary, Academics, Business, Clergy, Civil Society Foundations, and groups.
Today a week ago the EFF leader Julius Malema and a delegation of his leadership accompanied by Ekhurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina and NEC member Tony Yengeni attended the much-publicised Nkandla Tea meeting. They arrived in helicopter style and black German sedan dope magic at the homestead of former President Jacob Zuma. History will say very little about this meeting because it was not a Boston Tea Party gathering. If written by the anti-Zuma historians it will depict less his soberness of mind.
It is fair to speak of the ANC as having captured a South-African society. Even those who do not vote for the ANC support one or other faction in the ANC at one point or another. Is it truly the fight between good and evil or is it politics at play? Somehow our society evidences the ANC in the totality of its brokenness of factions, moral failures, corruption, arrogance, bought politicians by capital, and power interests. South Africa as society remains carceral as deceived to believe there are naturally good and bad in ANC politicians measurable in degrees of those we love or don’t like. SA is deceived that the good is only good and the bad is only bad.
This is perhaps the reason why the ANC will govern for the next 30 years since it inadvertently succeeded to define a SA society in democracy as anchored on its factional-personality-politics- interest-diaphragm. Court cases as high as the apex court confirms this reality. Civil society foundations, SACC led clergy will defend Ramaphosa and have no moral dilemma that an alleged R500bn of PPE corruption does not compel him to be held personally accountable. They will equally forgive him for the crisis of expiring and ineffective drugs as a sequel for the billions of  PPE scandal which all took place under his watch. Yet the same people would religiously insist Jacob Zuma must be arrested for exercising his constitutional right in refusing to appear before an ANC factional contaminated Zondo charade of a Commission.
Next time you say the ANC failed please pause and honestly ask yourself if it also failed to have captured you as part of the pollution and combustion of its factional and fractional identity politician personalities interests? Its factional Identity is the fundamental legacy the ANC bequeathed a South African society.
Well, I said that to make the point the much-publicised Nkandla Tea Meeting did not come at the initiation of Jacob Zuma, from what I can surmise he never asked for tea with anyone. Malema approached him on the public platform of Twitter and he graciously responded that he is nowadays spending most of his time at Nkandla and he has plenty of tea. Anybody who has ever met with Zuma would know that he does not consume any alcohol and is a tea-lover. I was privileged that he served me tea when he requested a one-on-one meeting in August 2017. Malema, therefore, knows this love of tea as common for  Zuma hence it became the Nkandla Tea Meeting. When Malema and the Old man responded to other each, Derek Hanekom like a fly in the ointment could not resist commenting. Hanekom the often truant in social media policy of ANC who also is an NEC member strangely never gets the public wrath of the self-appointed ANC Social-Media police offer, Jessie Duarte,  made as is his usual a sardonic comment to which Malema responded, it’s a meeting between blacks. That shut Hanekom up.
I observed the happenings and with my inquiring mind, I wanted to understand the genesis of the meeting as requested by Malema against a broader canvass than what was being exhibited. While we all know in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies my quest sought refuge in the umwelt of this relationship with Zuma that for obvious reasons does not define a natural meeting of this sort. While Zuma who is always politically very astute would never shun Malema but equally enjoy in pragmatism any opportunity to underscore his stance availed himself to this request. I will submit on his part it could never have been misread as him wilting in the stance he took on not appearing before the Zondo Commission.
The longer I looked at it the more it crystallised to me Malema is merely the face of a request that did not emanate from him. The EFF is simply a tool in this exercise. I hear you retort what do you mean? I implore you again to appreciate that the ANC’s legacy of factional interest does not escape opposition parties. This means is it remotely possible that Malema was dispatched by someone else? Meaning the suppose Tea request of Malema is plausibly not innocent but wholly orchestrated rendering him as the footsoldier dispatched and when the attempt for what it is dismally failed Malema’s big moment to shine as the one to have brokered the deal to have Zuma change his mind, is now beholden to silence. Anyone who knows Malema would attest he is a master tactician that feeds off the ANC internal cancer of delinquencies.
My mind involuntarily strayed further is it possible that there is a bigger deal at play here. Who knows what the deal between him and whoever is that sent him? Who did Malema represent and whose interest had him whisked in helicopter glare to Nkandla?
I suspect Julius and his fanfare will never have a press conference on the failure of his tea meeting. I speculate he won’t tell us who sent him.  Again, I will venture to speculate, is it remotely possible that Cyril sent him as one of the latter’s number if delegations dispatched? We all know the Zuma will never give Cyril any audience anytime soon.  Cyril knows he has spent all comradely credit he may ever have had with Zuma. He is for all intends and purposes one not to be trusted.
You recall Cyril dared to engage the subject to plead for time with Zuma since various people are speaking to Zuma. Is it accidental or coincidental that while Malema met with Zuma, Ramaphosa was asked about the Zuma defiance? His response is self-revealing, what on the surface looked like him being comradely to Zuma turns out to be Ramaphosa batting for himself. President Cyril Ramaphosa asked that Jacob Zuma be given time and space to think things through since various people are counselling him.
Following ANC and SA politics for a long time, that was the dead give-away that in my mind Cyril asked Malema, if Malema didn’t volunteer his services to talk to Zuma was the following statement attributed to Ramaphosa: “And I’m sure in his mind, and in his own time, he will think about all this. I would like to say let’s give former President Jacob Zuma time to think about this and also to hear what other people are saying. Considering this, I’m sure he will conclude.” Ramaphosa also warned anyone who further engaged this as speaking out of turn.  He was therefore firmly in control because the chopper landed and the deliberations were underway.  How naïve on their part?
So,  what could have happened at the Nkandla Tea Meeting? I would imagine the presence of the older Yengeni and the often shooting from the hip Mzwandile considered as scripted in our discourse as Zuma supporters were to ameliorate and assist the discussion towards pleading for constitutional reverence. Dali Mpofu’s presence I suppose was intended to be free legal support for the discussion. This team was going to do it so they hoped, it was going to be a win for Ramaphosa and Malema. But they found a Zuma welcoming ever – willing to give them an audience and share tea but not remotely ready or willing to have his principled position engaged.
I would surmise that  Zuma didn’t take too kind and may have in avuncular sense rebuked the ANC leaders who joined the EFF leadership. His rebuke may have been a question of dubious commitment and loyalty while unequivocally telling them he made up his mind in clarity of thought and having considered the ramifications no different to his many escapades during the liberation years. He was not going to be engaged in attending Zondo,  that proverbial horse has bolted. I would have been surprised if he had in any sense wilted.
It remains my view that the Constitutional Court with its most recent finding for the Zondo Commission as apex court publicly raped our constitution for cheap political ends. It did so because it failed to hold the Commission accountable as having the necessary infrastructure and means to deal with any recalcitrant witness. It refused to ask the Commission of its knowledge of any pending case(s) levelled against the chair which is before a High Court. This is the very premise for  Zuma’s reluctance. The CC instead showed an appetite for this case for nothing but ANC political factional reasons.
So,  we won’t hear from Malema, I suspect we will only from Malema when Zuma this coming week is a  no show at the Zondo Commission.  At that time, he will tell SA how Zuma is a stubborn old man a constitutional delinquent who did not want to listen to sound advice. Malema will not speak because he failed to convince a man who told us all in the soberness of his convictions he was willing to go to jail.
What is certain is that Jacob  Zuma will never be at the Zondo Commission. His anticipated acted out decision to not appear will force the hand of the one [Ramaphosa], whom I speculate sent a Malema, to deal with the pressure of a decision that may become the true Rubicon of his tenure. Zuma the master chess-player has Ramaphosa in a checkmate position.  Will Zuma, in the end, make and break Ramaphosa’s tenure in ANC and SA context – we will have to wait and see.
Let us see Ramaphosa’s next move while inside the ANC the tectonic shifts immanent in the Communist linguistics of ‘balance of forces’  as always increasingly showing appetite in favour of  Zuma as having a case when he refuses to show up at Zondo. Watch how this weekend’s NEC will attempt being a feedback session from the Malema reconnaissance failed visit. If Malema thought he was the only one Ramaphosa had sent to Zuma he was deceived.
In case you forgot what I said, in the beginning, South Africa as a society is so intrinsically part of this ANC factional DNA  because the ANC bequeathed us their factional identity and we simply cannot be delinked or untangled from it. If opposition party leaders [Malema] are called to intervene internally in ANC standoffs you know we are part of the factional identity of the ANC. By the way, you as a reader of the article cannot escape since as you have already unconsciously, subconsciously, or unknowingly chosen sides while you may not even be an ANC member or supporter as a voter.
Clyde N. S. Ramalaine
A Lifelong Social Justice Activist Political Commentator & Writer is a SARChi D. Litt.et. Phil candidate in Political Science with the University of Johannesburg. Chairperson of TMoSA Foundation – The Thinking Masses of SA