Former S.A President jumps from the ANC Ship
Former President Jacob Zuma made a dramatic break from his past, announcing he will not support the African National Congress (ANC) in the 2024 elections but instead throw his weight behind the newly formed Umkhonto weSizwe party. This unprecedented move marks a significant shift in South Africa’s political landscape, with Zuma citing “soul-searching” and concerns about the ANC’s current direction as reasons for his decision.
Zuma, who led the ANC for nearly a decade and served as President of South Africa from 2009 to 2018, has long been considered a powerful figure within the party. His announcement therefore carries considerable weight, potentially influencing voters and reshaping the political landscape.
“After much reflection, it truly saddens me that the ANC of today is not the movement that we loved and we prepared to lay down our lives for,” Zuma said through a statement read by his daughter during Umkhonto weSizwe’s launch.
“My conscience does not allow me to campaign for the ANC.”
This decision reflects a wider trend of former presidents distancing themselves from their founding parties. Ian Khama in Botswana and Uhuru Kenyatta in Kenya are recent examples of leaders who publicly supported opposition figures or formed their own parties.
Whether Zuma’s announcement will lead to a coalition government with Umkhonto weSizwe and other opposition groups, such as the Economic Freedom Fighters and the African Congress for Transformation, remains to be seen. However, it has undoubtedly shaken the existing political order and injected a new dimension into the upcoming elections.
In Botswana when former President Ian Khama stepped down as the country’s President and the Botswana Democratic Party, he formed a new political party Botswana Patriotic Front. Jumping off from the BDP a party which was formed by his late father, the first Botswana President Sir Seretse Khama.
In Zimbabwe when the nation was heading to the 2018 General elections, the late former President and founder of the ruling party was quoted by the media saying, he was voting for an opposition candidate and not the ruling party.
Another former Head of state who went to support an opposition party during the election campaign is former President Uhuru Kenyatta. Former President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya campaigned for the long-time veteran politician, Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga against then the Deputy of Kenya, William Ruto.
It is yet to be known by the public whether former President Jacob Zuma’s membership in the ANC is on the chopping block.
President Zuma has always been seen as the face of the ANC party in KZN, where the ruling party has always battled out with other traditional movements such as the Inkatha Freedom Party and the NFP Party.