Former president Jacob Zuma’s son’s bid to run for president in 2022 has gained momentum, since he first divulged his ambitions earlier this year, but critics doubt Duduzane’s chances of convincing the ANC to trust him with the party’s reins.
Duduzane has reportedly been making sizable moves that smack of the beginnings of a political campaign in recent months. Despite this, analysts say the younger Zuma’s reported moves toward a political career and a possible presidential campaign may be misguided.
Notably, the Daily Maverick has recently reported on his apparent engagements with predominantly Indian and other minority communities in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), ostensibly in attempts to garner clout and raise funding.
This is in the wake of accusations he and his sister Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla were partially to blame for the protests which led to widespread looting, vandalism and over 300 deaths in July. Duduzane has categorically denied this repeatedly.
The riots which were sparked by the arrest of Duduzane’s father led to deadly racially charged tensions in parts of KZN, and widespread job losses caused by billions of Rands worth of public and private property damage.
During a recent Glow TV interview, Duduzane repeats his categorical denial of any involvement in these events.
He also tries to clear the air on another video, in which he is heard encouraging looters to loot ‘responsibly’ and carefully, saying it was taken out of context. The video was posted two days into the violent unrest. Duduzane says he was trying to warn people not to put themselves in harm’s way and was in no way encouraging violence.
Opportunism will cost him
Political analyst Dr Ina Gouws says Duduzane may be grossly underestimating the long road to political success that his predecessors have walked.
His timing may be of assistance, but it could also be his ultimate downfall, if he is seen to be trying to capitalise on a tragic event, which people blame him for in the first place, as his springboard to political success.
“This is hugely opportunistic. Any politician who wants success on an ANC ticket has to be involved from a young age in the ANC Youth League and in the branches, and that has not been the case with Duduzane, and I think if he wants to be a presidential candidate he will probably have to start his own party or start from the ground up in the ANC,” suggests Gouws.
“The timing is very opportunistic to be mobilising in KZN and drawing on the events of a very unfortunate week in SA. He may get support in some of those areas if he exploits his ties to his father and the situation with his medical parole, but I would be very surprised if he had any success in that,” Gouws argues.
‘He needs to go back to school’
President of KZN-based political party ADEC (African Democratic Change) Visvin Reddy says Duduzane’s attempt to woo minority communities for political clout is short-sighted and misguided.
Though he clearly possesses some political clout, as shown in his heavy media presence around the time of the riots, many see him as complicit to the ensuing carnage and so he would need to work much harder gain any real traction.
“He needs to go back political school if he has aspirations to become the president, and he wants to use the ANC as the vehicle. Firstly he is campaigning in the wrong places,” remarks Reddy.
The ANC’s demographic make-up includes a very small representation of these communities, so unless he is trying to run independently or start his own party, his political career may yet be going nowhere. The businessman-turned-political figure may also be underestimating how much anger he and his father have inspired against the ANC, whether or not they take some of the blame for the July unrest.
“The anger towards the ANC, especially in minority communities at the moment, cannot be overstated. A lot of minority communities believe that the tracks made when the former president Jacob Zuma was arrested and that led to the riots have led to a lot of anger, so now to try and muster support, in those communities can only be seen as a publicity stunt at the moment,” concludes Reddy.