Ramaphosa's backers, who are a majority in the NEC, laid all the blame on one man - Zuma. So the NEC took a decision that its structures - including the women's league, the youth league and the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans' Association, all of which have been staunch Zuma supporters - should not show support for party leaders or members facing corruption allegations.

The intention was to dissociate the party from its ugly past in the hope that voters would buy into the notion of a Zuma-free ANC. It is a move that could spruce up the party's image and improve its electoral fortunes, especially in urban areas outside KwaZulu-Natal where Zuma is persona non grata.

However, the NEC may have shot itself in the foot. Zuma is facing 16 charges of racketeering, corruption, money laundering and fraud. This is in relation to 783 questionable payments connected with the arms deal over which Zuma's former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was jailed for corruption.

It was a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't for President Cyril Ramaphosa's national executive committee when it ruled that ANC structures must not mobilise support for former leader Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa had just clinched an electoral victory in the party after campaigning on an anticorruption ticket. He had promised a rebirth for the ANC, which had been sullied by allegations of corruption over the past decade of Zuma's leadership. The Nkandla scandal, the capture of the state by one family and the collapse of state-owned enterprises and several state institutions had dented the ANC's image so badly that the party losing control of central government no longer seemed impossible.The 2016 local government election, in which the ANC was unseated in major metros, was a clear sign that voter apathy towards the ANC had reached unprecedented levels. Ramaphosa's backers, who are a majority in the NEC, laid all the blame on one man - Zuma. So the NEC took a decision that its ...

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