Mondli Makhanya | Was Zuma’s destructive presidency an apartheid intelligence project?


Former president Thabo Mbeki stopped short of saying it, but he actually said it: the rise of his successor, Jacob Zuma, to the country’s highest office was a counter-revolutionary act masterminded by elements of the old apartheid order. And the destruction he caused in the country during his nine years in power was in furtherance of this counter-revolutionary agenda to derail democratic South Africa.

This so-called counter-revolution, in which Zuma was a key player, “has caused enormous damage to the country as a whole and brought much suffering to millions of our people,” Mbeki said.

Mbeki, speaking at 30 years of celebrating democracy at Freedom Park in Tshwane this week, pulled no punches in painting a picture of a Zuma who was a docile collaborator in a plot to reverse the gains of democracy.

In his speech, Mbeki spoke of two phases in post-apartheid South Africa. Generously quoting John Endress, executive director of the Institute of Race Relations, Mbeki spoke of South Africa’s first 13 to 15 years (1994-2008) as marked by progress and the time between then and 2022 as marked by decline.

In his speech to the influential Cato Institute think tank in Washington last year, Endress divided South Africa’s post-apartheid trajectory into Era One and Era Two. The first is close to the Nelson Mandela and Mbeki years, when things seemed very positive for the country, and the second is essentially the years and hangover of that period. Mbeki said, quoting extensively from various local and international official sources:

The real reality is that during the first 13 to 15 years of our democracy, the government and other social partners did a lot to implement in practice the vision and program contained in the PDR White Paper and related socio-economic development programs. National data in the period to 2007 collectively marked progress in improving living standards that would rival any other post-colonial emerging market.

Specifically, Mbeki stated that the “big difference” between the two ages “raises the question: why? An answer to this question becomes especially important because, during both eras, the ANC was the main ruling party.”

Mbeki took his audience back in time, essentially saying that bitter elders had largely infiltrated the ANC. He said the “counter-revolution” began planning to take over the ANC in 2007, as early as the 2002 ANC national conference in Stellenbosch.

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“The 2007 National Conference presented the counterrevolution with the opportunity to implement their plans in this regard. He therefore participated in both the preparations and the Conference itself to ensure the success of those he favored as members of the ANC national executive committee,” the former president said.

That was the conference at which Zuma was elected president of the ANC, with the NEC dominated by many of his allies.

Mbeki dropped a very obvious hint, stating that “the apartheid regime had paid much attention to the task of infiltrating as many of its agents as possible into the ANC and the rest of the broader democratic movement. Although the ANC did much to uncover and expose these enemy agents, the harsh reality is that a considerable number of them remained undetected within our ranks.”

So was he saying that Zuma was one of those agents, who would later become president of the ANC and the republic and continue the work he had done for his apartheid handlers from his high chair in the Union Buildings?

Mbeki didn’t say it explicitly, but the butter was very thick. In his speech, Mbeki spoke of the history of the Afrikaner establishment’s fear of communism and (mistakenly) how the ANC could be used as a vassal for the penetration of this ideology among South Africans. For this reason, Mbeki said the apartheid establishment had to do everything possible to prevent the ANC from coming to power and, if it ever came to power, it had to be prevented from achieving its objectives.

Mbeki’s historical thread included the fact that in 1994, the entrants had asked the police, defense forces and intelligence service for the names of agents who had infiltrated the liberation movement “so that we could discuss them.” and demobilize them.”

“Sure enough, all three services rejected our request. The counter-revolution used these agents in the ranks of the ANC to intervene in the Polokwane National Conference as they did,” Mbeki alleged. So was Zuma, the main beneficiary of the Polokwane conference, one of them? Mbeki did not say it explicitly, but the implication was very clear.

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As he did in a recent speech, Mbeki cited the destruction of Eskom, Sars and other entities by Zuma and his clique as an example of counterrevolution in action. He detailed the findings of the Zondo and Nugent judicial commissions, quoting now Chief Justice Raymond as saying that “this is one of the few cases where President Zuma himself was directly and personally involved in the activities and plans to take over of a government entity…”

“Obviously, this presents us with a conundrum! Here, according to the judicial commissions, we have a head of government who joins a process to reduce the very income that he needs to allow the government to fulfill his responsibilities, to the point of possible collapse of that government. How do we explain this enigma? The only logical way to explain this is that, as difficult as it is to even understand. Here we are before a wolf in sheep’s clothing!

Basically, Zuma was not acting alone. He was serving his masters since ancient times.

He went on to recount the destruction of institutions such as the South African Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority and many state-owned enterprises by people placed in charge of Zuma as further examples of this counter-revolution at play. Then there were the July 2021 riots, which Mbeki considered “a practical exercise of the counterrevolution to test their ability to destabilize the country.”

To reinforce his point, he quotes former SA Army deputy general Roland de Vries, who last month warned that the state was still unable to prevent a similar event. De Vries stated in an interview that the chaos of July 2021 “was, in my opinion, a well-orchestrated (counter)revolutionary threat that materialized as if by signal, as if by magic…”

Many will dismiss Mbeki’s characterization of the era of state capture as an elaborate conspiracy by the evil remnants of the apartheid regime as hallucinatory and evidence that he is still bitter about his defeat to Zuma at the 2007 conference. Of course , there is the very simple notion that Zuma was simply a greedy and morally bereft individual who was easy to manipulate by the Guptas and other nefarious elements.

There is also the part that his own leadership had alienated so many in the ANC ranks that the ruling party was ripe for the buffoon to take power. But the argument that Zuma’s destruction of South Africa will land well in some quarters, as it carries the weight of a former president. It has certainly sparked rumors in the ANC, where the rise of the MK Party is seen as an extension of this “counter-revolutionary project”.

So in effect, Zuma is still carrying out important tasks for the masters he once served. It has been said but not completely said. There’s a lot to chew on.