IN 2011 the SACP’s Jeremy Cronin accused then President Thabo Mbeki of embarking on the “Zanufication of the ANC”. Cronin was referring to what he believed were authoritarian tendencies manifesting under Mbeki.

Cronin and Co then tied themselves – and this country – to someone who has done precisely what Cronin sought to avoid – and some.

The blunting of democracy by both the ANC and the state’s security and law order apparatus is now a norm. Just this week the nation heard the populist Police Minister Fikile Mbalula fire a warning shot at ANC MPs ahead of the vote of no-confidence against President Jacob Zuma.  Any ANC MP who stepped out of line would “blow themselves up”, he said.

That ANC MPs have, to this point, been the compliant lackeys of a giggling president has delivered a triple whammy. It has stripped parliament of its oversight function,  relocated the battle for righteous government to the courts and in turn our proudly independent judiciary has found itself under such pressure that the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng recently urged  judges to be “willing to die for the rule of law”.

Unfortunately the parallels between  authoritarian abuses in  Zanufied Zimbabwe and South Africa in 2017 do not end here. Recent features include:

l Attempts by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane to orchestrate the heist of the entire mining industry with a secret redraft of the mining charter. His version will funnel massive wealth (R50-billion) to a tiny elite, put at risk 100000 direct jobs (20% of the mining workforce), set credible investors to flight and very likely ensure that the deeper deposits of the world’s most mineral rich country remain where there are – untapped underground;

l Then there is the  bizarre display of official over-reach by the public protector  Busisiwe Mkhwebane,  who visibly unbidden, departed from her domain of the law and launched herself into the realm of economics by trying to open the way for the Reserve Bank to print money. Meanwhile she been stubbornly resistant to fulfilling the responsibilities of her office, which should include investigating a slew of evidence of gross corruption involving President Jacob Zuma’s cronies, the Guptas.

According to Guptaleaks, they have, as middlemen in a deal between Transnet and China South Rail (one of many deals involving the state) acquired  R5-billion in kickbacks.

Worse is that this deal was granted on the basis of a fraudulent R30-billion loan application which their associate concocted;

l Move on to what is invariably a last resort of bankrupted governments – land expropriation without compensation. The pitfalls of this policy have been so well demonstrated that there should be no repeating. Yet this very week at the ANC’s  policy conference this is what is being advocated by the Zuma bloc;

l Last but not least are attacks on the independent media which escalated to shocking proportions last week. A young SABC journalist, so traumatised by intimidation, died because her heart gave in. On the same day thugs descended on the home of editor, Peter Bruce, threatening him and punching his colleague,  Business Day editor Tim Cohen, in the face.

Sadly none of these  features are novel. Zanufied Zimbabwe has perfected them. This is the  lens of reality through which ANC delegates meeting in Soweto should be looking.