President Jacob Zuma will step down from the ANC presidency this weekend after a decade in charge of Africa’s oldest liberation movement.
Zuma, who rose to the ANC throne at the party’s watershed conference in Polokwane 10 years ago, will hand over power to either his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa or Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the 54th ANC national conference in Nasrec, south west of Johannesburg.
Zuma had a turbulent reign as party leader.
During his presidency, the party gave birth to two splinter parties, namely the Congress of the People and the Economic Freedom Fighters. The party further suffered electoral decline riddled with factionalism and allegations of corruption and state capture.
However, Zuma’s ascension to power was propelled by some individuals who have fallen out of favour with the president.
Here are those who helped Zuma emerge as ANC leader, but have since spoken out against him:
The South African Communist Party and its general secretary Blade Nzimande were staunch Zuma loyalists.
Nzimande was seen alongside Zuma at rallies and outside courtyards during court cases – fiercely defending the president against those who attacked him.
After eight years in Zuma’s cabinet as minister of higher education, Nzimande was axed this year.
Prior to his removal, the SACP had been a vocal critic of Zuma’s administration, calling for his removal from office for over a year.
Nzimande expressed regret for supporting Zuma.
“Had we known what it is that we are actually supporting, given the outrageous capture of our country by the Guptas, we would not have supported President Zuma because our deal with him was to actually lead the process of sorting out things that were wrong in the ANC,” Nzimande said in an interview with 702.
Like Nzimande, Vavi praised Zuma in the lead up to the Polokwane conference which saw former president Thabo Mbeki recalled.
The trio of Zuma, Vavi and Nzimande completed a political tripartite political “bromance”.
Vavi and the trade union federation that he led backed Zuma in Polokwane and five years later in Mangaung.
In 2015, Vavi who had been part of the trade union movement for almost three decades, was expelled from Cosatu.
He has since repented for supporting Zuma and is, at present, one of his fiercest critics.
Vavi now leads the South African Federation of Trade Unions, a rival to Cosatu.
The former ANC Youth League president was one of Zuma’s loudest cheerleaders and defenders during the early period of his reign.
Zuma critics would often receive a public tongue-lashing from the Young Lions.
Malema famously even said he would “kill for Zuma”.
However, the friendship deteriorated significantly with tensions already evident in 2011, just a year before Malema would be expelled for disciplinary reasons.
A year later, he formed the Economic Freedom Fighters, South Africa’s third largest party.
The EFF is today a thorn in Zuma’s side every time he appears in Parliament.
Malema and the rest of the red berets in Parliament have refused to recognise Zuma as a legitimate head of state.
The party led the “pay back the money” campaign against the president in light of the Nkandla scandal.