Former president Jacob Zuma speaks to supporters outside the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban. Picture: AFP/Anadolu Agency/Ihsaan Haffejee
Former president Jacob Zuma speaks to supporters outside the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban. Picture: AFP/Anadolu Agency/Ihsaan Haffejee

Bodyguards protecting senior ANC officials drew their weapons as a mob approached demanding access to a meeting to discuss the election of a new provincial leadership in Howick.

The video, shot by TimesLive journalist Jeff Wicks, is spine-chilling evidence of how deep the divide is and how chaos is one gunshot away.

It was just another day in the life of the ANC in KwaZulu Natal. But the news came as it was revealed that Jacob Zuma’s faction is planning to oust Cyril Ramaphosa from the presidency just three months after he was elected to the job in December.

From the Sunday Times article: "Zuma loyalists... [may] split their votes in elections next year — voting for the ANC in the province but giving their national ballots to a party sympathetic to their cause should their plan to remove Ramaphosa fail."

According to the report, that could be Andile Mngxitama’s Black First Land First. A new political party, the African Transformation Congress, has also been formed by a Zuma ally.

The model for this rebellion is well-established.

Zuma has mobilised a "coalition of the wounded" around his victimhood before. After he was fired by then president Thabo Mbeki and charged with rape, Zuma sang his trademark "Umshini Wam" song and surfed the sympathetic froth generated by the ANC’s Left all the way into the presidency.

This time around, the pickings are slimmer.

The ANC will not officially support Zuma during his upcoming corruption trial, and Julius Malema and Zwelinzima Vavi are no longer in the WhatsApp group. Zuma has been left with the man who put the spoke in spokesman, Carl Niehaus, a few zealous preachers and the Black First Land First rent-a-crowd in his corner.

It is tempting to say that history is repeating itself, this time as farce, to borrow from Karl Marx’s quote from The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon.

Except for one thing: there are a lot of bodyguards, militants and outlaws who are quick to draw guns in Zuma’s heartland. And he’s the king of chaos.

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