Max du Preez

South Africa needs a Zexit plan

2016-11-08 07:50

It is too risky for President Jacob Zuma to resign now. It could mean he would go to jail for a long time and lose all his pension money (and perhaps his little piggy bank in Dubai?)

Another way will have to be found to get rid of him. It is once again time for South Africans to talk about the pros and cons of getting Zuma out of power in return for him staying out of jail.

He certainly would face serious jail time once the courts finally order the 783 charges of fraud and corruption be reinstated and the full story about state capture emerges.

Zexit is what we need: a Zuma exit plan.

The more we learn about state capture, the Gupta family’s remarkable influence in state circles and the shenanigans of Zuma’s rent-seeking cabal, the more unattractive the proposal of an amnesty for Zuma sounds.

The value of the image of a corrupt president in an orange prison jump suit after a criminal trial on charges of corruption and fraud is priceless in a country where corruption has become systemic.

But this uncomfortable question is important to ask and ponder: would the price South Africa would have to pay for another year or two, three of a Zuma in the Union Buildings and/or of a Zuma in the dock and a cell in Pollsmoor not be too high for us to pay?

Zuma made it clear on the weekend that he wasn’t planning to go anywhere; that he was going to fight.

He has a mandate of five years and is determined to stay on that long, he said.

I can’t see any way that Zuma would remain in power until the general election of mid-2019. But let’s say he could potentially hold on until the ANC’s elective conference in December next year.

To achieve this, Zuma will have to continue and expand his capture of state instruments such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Hawks and the state security services. Ditto for the state-owned enterprises such as the SABC, Eskom, Denel, Transnet and SAA.

Our democracy and economy simply cannot afford another year of this undermining of our Constitution and ethics. Think of the damage the absurd and malicious persecution of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had inflicted and multiply it by a hundred.

The Zuma cabal got rid of key officials in the battle against corruption and state capture within a short time; good people like the Hawks’ Anwa Dramat and Shadrack Sibiya, the top structure of SARS and the best talent in the NPA, and replaced them with puppets.

This new team – the Hawks’s Berning Ntlemeza, SARS’s Tom Moyane and the NPA’s Shaun Abrahams are good examples – is wreaking havoc. Ditto for Gupta-appointees in the cabinet like Des van Rooyen and Mosebenzi Zwane.

And then there are the plans for nuclear reactors that will bankrupt the country and undoubtedly lead to large-scale corruption. It is clear that Zuma will push this through whatever the costs.

Another argument to consider: Zuma has given clear signals that ethnic mobilization is not beneath him. His strategy is one of scorched earth. That could result in a serious threat to our stability.

That is why I believe the ANC alliance, the DA as official opposition, other political parties and elements of civil society should start thinking about a Zexit plan.

I would say that any such plan should not allow the Guptas, their political and business surrogates and other state capturers to get away with their crimes.

That also goes for the members of the Zuma clan who became multi-millionaires in a short time.

Money illegally taken out of the country would have to be returned.

Of course Zuma is not the only thing wrong with how South Africa is being run right now.

A Zexit plan should systematically unbundle the complex network of patronage and identify and eliminate functionaries of the Zuma cabal in and outside the state so we can have a new start on a clean slate.

We should consider changing the Constitution in order to limit the powers of the president to appoint and fire senior public officials – this was proposed two years ago by the then deputy chief justice, Dikgang Moseneke.

Gupta friends in high places such as Van Rooyen, Zwane and Eskom boss Brian Molefe should, together with Zuma loyalists such as SAA’s Dudu Myeni, SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Petterson, be asked to come clean on all the shady deals if they want to have amnesty from prosecution.

Perhaps a Zexit agreement should stipulate that Zuma leave the country. Already there are persistent rumours that he owns valuable property in Dubai and Malawi, so he’ll probably have somewhere to go to.

Cyril Ramaphosa should take over as caretaker president until the ANC’s conference or preferably until 2019. Zweli Mkhize, a key role player in any Zexit strategy, should be his deputy.

The key to all this is the judicial commission of inquiry proposed by the former Public Protector in her State of Capture report.

If this commission – perhaps led by the incorruptible recently retired Judge Moseneke? – could cut open the festering sore of state capture within a few months, Zuma would have little negotiating power in terms of a Zexit proposal.

Of course, we can all remain pure and principled and insist on the law taking its (painfully slow) course.

And pay a price South Africa can’t afford.

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:    jacob zuma  |  state capture report
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