Congratulations are due Jacob Zuma – apparently far more Machiavellian than even his arch-opponent since 2005, Thabo Mbeki – and the tireless band of warriors from the Congress of SA Trade Unions, SA Communist Party and African National Congress Youth League who kept his political life support on when everyone else declared him dead.
But after his election as ANC president on Tuesday, the disintegration of his voting bloc is not far off. As Brian Ashley of Amandla magazine explains, Zuma commands “a broad coalition of disgruntled elements within the ANC. A period of political instability awaits. The ‘dreaded’ two centres of power have materialised and given rise to a lame duck President.”
This is promising indeed, after 13.5 years of unrelenting neoliberalism mixed with triumphalist nationalism (often, in turn, flavoured with ‘Breshnevite Marxism’, as the ANC’s left discourses have been termed in rare moments of autocritique). Indeed amongst the general public, there is a widespread conviction that a new balance of forces within the ANC presages a genuine left policy turn. To make this impression…
Now here is a commentary from Loudrastress on Zuma’s rape acquittal:
A feminist lawyer friend who works in the gender based violence NGO sector has just reminded me that tomorrow will mark a year since the delivery of the judgement on the Jacob Zuma rape case. She said she was reflecting on how much has changed, or not changed in the context of GBV in South Africa. I don’t know that a whole lot has changed, or that we have fewer questions now than we did a year ago. It seems as though we have much more to think about than we did before the case.
I do know that the rape case of the former national vice president turned the volume up on gender based violence, not just in relation to the case itself, but also generally why we live in the siege we do as women. I have been called melodramatic when I’ve used “siege” to describe the state in which women live within the borders of the South African nation state. I stand by my words. Anybody with a cursory appreciation of how likely each woman is to be subjected to different forms of gender based violence (sexual harrassment, physical abuse, psychological battery, financial abuse, forced subjection to the witness of degradation and violence metted out to others, etc) knows that I am being far from melodramatic.
The case brought us face to face to the widespread nature of South African hypocrisy on the subject of gender anything. On the one hand…