David Mabuza, front. Picture: SOWETAN
David Mabuza, front. Picture: SOWETAN

Recently, deputy president David Mabuza tweeted a picture of himself with EFF leader Julius Malema, apparently sharing a joke and cosying up to his former ANC cadre.

On the face of it there’s nothing wrong with two opposing political figures posing together. Many politicians have taken photos with their rivals in the past, but this photo of Mabuza and Malema has bigger implications than merely an image of political figureheads.

We should not be surprised, though. In late 2011, Malema was suspended from the ANC for five years, and a few months later he was expelled from the party. Despite this, he has always had a very close relationship with the party, proclaiming he would “kill” for former president Jacob Zuma and his immense loyalty meant he “will die in the ANC”. These sentiments did not suddenly fade when he formed the EFF.

Indeed, the picture of Malema and Mabuza illustrates the fact that a vote for Ramaphosa is a vote for Mabuza, the corrupt ANC, and ultimately Malema and the EFF. One can’t separate these individuals from one another. 

Mabuza’s relationship with Malema is undeniable. One only has to look at Mabuza’s own words to woo Malema back, to understand their close relationship.

In March  2017, when Mabuza was the ANC chair in Mpumalanga, he told members of the party: “I myself am considering bringing Malema back into the ANC. I am following him. He might be talking too much, but it is better if he spoke like that in the ANC. When I bring him back, you must welcome him.”

A year later, Mabuza reiterated these sentiments. “[Malema] has a special space in my heart,” he told supporters in March  2018. “We had times together. He knows. When he was in the ANC‚ I supported him to be the president of the Youth League and I remember comrade Julius saying‚ ‘My blood is black‚ green and gold. I will never leave the ANC’.”

Furthermore, this love affair between Mabuza and Malema goes both ways. In February  2017, Malema said Mabuza was the “king maker who never fails in his cause”, referring to his pull within the ANC to make the Ace Magashule/Zuma faction even stronger. And earlier this month, Malema proclaimed that Ramaphosa will not be president next year but will be replaced by Mabuza.

This relationship is, indeed, worrisome and every voter should be deeply concerned.

Fairy tales

Voting for Ramaphosa and hoping he will be able to change the ANC is akin to believing in fairy tales. His hand is forced by the Mabuza/Magashule faction — the very faction that is in bed with Malema. 

This is why Ramaphosa can’t rid his Cabinet of corrupt ministers; he has to bow to the pressures of the Mabuza faction. Mabuza himself has a very tainted track record, but his support in the ANC is so strong that Ramaphosa often has to succumb to his wishes.

The Mabuza faction is so powerful within the ANC that every vote for the party is ultimately one for the EFF and its policies. It is critically important to keep the ANC and EFF below a two-thirds majority. An ANC with Mabuza at the helm, together with Malema and the EFF, will have immense power to change the constitution and do irreparable damage to the country. Land expropriation without compensation is one such example. 

The Ramaphosa faction realises the dire economic effects of such a policy, but Malema and Mabuza are, together, much stronger than he could ever be.

Mabuza is thus not innocently tweeting a photo of himself with Malema — voters should think twice about the implications. Malema is not merely another character in the fairy tale of Ramaphosa leading the pack, he is a chief alliance of the actual president of the ANC: David Mabuza.

• Zondo is manager of the issues driving unit of the DA