(By Peter Mansfield, first published on thoughtsandmemories.com)

Most internal elections (in any party) are tense affairs. There are winners and losers and bruised egos to be accommodated…

That is normal. But for many, if not most delegates, this election is a struggle for the heart and soul of the ANC.

As election day gets closer, tensions are rising. The election is now down to which candidate can steal most from the other.

By hook or by crook

It is fairly obvious that Ramaphosa is ahead. It is his election to lose, and Dlamini-Zuma’s to win, by hook or by crook.

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According to ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu, the establishment (Zuma, Dlamini-Zuma and so on) is growing more fearful and more desperate. And her surrogates are trying to bribe Ramaphosa-supporting delegates to change their votes, and trying to create fraudulent delegates.

“Desperation”

Mthembu, according to TimesLive, says “Desperation is forcing some people in the ANC to allocate delegates to branches that failed to hold BGMs [Branch General Meetings]. These attempts of allocating fraudulent delegates are failing together with attempts to replace CR [Cyril Ramaphosa] delegates with bogus ones.

“The CR branches are fighting viciously all these un-ANC tendencies and they are winning. Some people have now realised that they don’t have delegate numbers‚ thus these fraudulent despicable attempts.

“They have now resorted to the last [throwing] of the dice‚ they are desperately trying to buy CR delegates and still failing dismally.”

Could Dlamini-Zuma win?

It seems that Dlamini-Zuma may still ‘win’, but it will be by the hookery and crookery skills of the experienced coterie of capturers with which she has surrounded herself.

If this is believed by Ramaphosa supporters (no reason why they would not), and he loses, all hell can be expected to break loose. Will he, and his supporters, just settle for being unhappy losers? And sit waiting for another five years? I don’t think so.

Violence may break out. Legal challenges are certain. If the challenges are unsuccessful, the party will split. Both sides will claim to represent the heart of the ANC, but Dlamini-Zuma will still be ANC president, for the moment. Zuma will still be president of South Africa.

Final showdown in Parliament

The ultimate showdown could be in parliament. Zuma and Ramaphosa supporters at each other’s throats. Any pretence of the ANC being one party, long gone. The chances of a ‘no-confidence’ ending in defeat for whichever Zuma is president at the time, look pretty good to me.

All the while the chances of the ANC winning in 2019 grow slimmer and slimmer.

Sit on the sidelines

Power corrupts, and long-held power corrupts even more. By 2019 the ANC will have been in power for 25 years. Far too long, as the corruption being discovered in the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay metros proves.

Imagine the rot yet to be unearthed at National and Provincial Government levels and in SOEs. The ANC needs a turn to sit on the sidelines and clean out its stables of corruption.