Why South Africa’s ANC has suspended former President Jacob Zuma

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South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has suspended former President Jacob Zuma with immediate effect.

The decision by ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) comes after Zuma, on December 16 2023, announced that he will be campaigning for another political party ahead of this year’s general election.

Zuma, the fourth president of democratic South Africa, serving from 2009 to 2018, endorsed and is campaigning for uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Party.

The new party’s name — which political pundits have argued it is Zuma’s brainchild — uses the name of ANC’s former military wing that was formed in December 16 1961 to fight the apartheid regime.

Jacob Zuma, the fourth president of democratic South Africa, serving from 2009 to 2018, endorsed and is campaigning for uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Party. The ANC is not happy about his recent political actions, therefore suspending him from the ruling party.

But in a statement from Secretary General Fikile Mbalula, ANC says Zuma and others are applying the “anti-transformation” tactics to encourage rebel break-away factions to erode the support base of the ANC ahead of the elections.

“Some of these parties masquerade as more radical than the ANC, but their revolutionary-sounding rhetoric cannot hide the reality that they have common cause with the forces opposing transformation,” Mbalula says.

Mbalula adds: “The formation of the MK party is not an accident. It is a deliberate attempt to use the proud history of armed struggle against the apartheid regime to lend credibility to what is a blatantly counter-revolutionary agenda. It was the sacred ground rule of UmKhonto we Sizwe, the glorious People’s army which all its members were taught, that this army was established to advance the political goals of the ANC. It implemented what the ANC NEC instructed it to do.”

The ANC insists that Zuma’s recent political actions are impugning the integrity of the party and campaigning to dislodge ANC from power, yet he claims he is a member.

The decision to suspend Zuma was arrived at during a NEC meeting held from 26-29 January 2024.

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