Adriaan Basson

Nkandla judgment: Is this Zuma’s end?

2016-03-31 15:32

Adriaan Basson

Towards the end of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s damning Nkandla judgment, I started hearing Jim Morrison sing “this is the end” like he did in Apocalypse Now.

But then I remembered it is President Jacob Zuma we are talking about.

Our Teflon president who have survived more scandals in his career than the children he’s got.

Will a ruling by the highest court in the land that Zuma contravened the Constitution, his oath of office and the law be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back?

Zuma shouldn’t survive the unanimous judgment by the Constitutional Court. No president can rule with moral authority after a court found he had breached the basic rules that govern our society.

But it’s Zuma we’re talking about. A man who thinks he is above the law. A man who has been dodging the courts for many years, even if it has crippled institutions of democracy.

A man who has outsourced his constitutional duties to appoint members of cabinet to a family that has made his son a millionaire. And got away with it. Time-after-time.

Why? Because everyone in the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) have “smallanyana (small) skeletons” in the closet, according to Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

Zuma knows what those skeletons are and where they are buried.

The question for Zuma’s opponents in the ANC now is how to get rid of Zuma without rattling those skeletons too much.

I honestly cannot see how the ANC in Parliament will dethrone Zuma through impeachment.

It’s simply not the ANC’s style to belittle or embarrass one of its own in public (Tony Yengeni was carried to prison on the shoulders of ANC leaders to serve his time for fraud).

On top of that, Mogoeng and his colleagues also found that the national assembly (read: ANC MPs) acted unconstitutionally by discarding advocate Thuli Madonsela’s Nkandla findings. They are therefore just as guilty as Zuma.

The EFF and DA will without doubt initiate impeachment proceedings against Zuma in Parliament, but it is unthinkable that the ANC will support this move.

What other options are open for Gwede Mantashe, Cyril Ramaphosa and Zweli Mkhize to remove Zuma?
A group of former uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) soldiers under the leadership of retired general Siphiwe Nyanda recently asked the ANC to negotiate a “graceful exit” for Zuma, following the latest Gupta scandal.

They later changed their demand to call upon the ANC for a special national conference that will reconsider the party’s leadership. It is likely that Zuma could be recalled at such a conference and be replaced by an interim president like Kgalema Motlanthe.

After today’s judgment a graceful exit should be a much more attractive option for Zuma, particularly as his political support begins to evaporate.

It will be a massive gamble for the ANC to go into local elections with Zuma as president. Skilled politicians like Julius Malema (EFF) and Mmusi Maimane (DA) will simply quote from Mogoeng’s ruling during election rallies and will do everything in their power to win Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Pretoria at the ballot box.

Will Zuma be amenable to an early exit before his ANC term ends in 2017? If so, he will probably want to choose his own successor.

His ex-wife and AU commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is back in the country in July and wants the job. Zuma will be much more comfortable with her in the seat than with someone like Motlanthe or Ramaphosa, who will most likely not protect him against prosecution.

Keep Morrison’s tune on pause for a little while. This is not yet the end of Zuma, but we are closer to that fated moment.

- Basson is editor-in-chief of Netwerk24 and incoming editor of News24. He is the author of ‘Zuma Exposed’ (Jonathan Ball).

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  nkandla upgrade
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