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Donald Henderson
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Where there's no blame there's no shame

25 March 2014, 05:30

The R246million upgrades of President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla residence in KwaZulu Natal contains few surprises as most details had either been disclosed or hinted at in media leaks in the past few months. Though the allegations against Zuma have been somewhat moderated in tone they still hold true to the fact that once again our President has overstepped the mark and benefitted personally.

But there is little chance that the President will be censured by the ANC as an inter-ministerial task team had previously cleared him of any blame in the ongoing saga and the NEC will, of necessity, lean more on that report. This will negate any attempt at the NEC meeting this week to censure the President. Besides, it is improbable that anyone in the ANC will rock the boat ahead of election day.

Only former President Thabo Mbeki raised a dissenting voice when he recently bemoaned the fact that the real objective of the ANC since Independence has been undermined by leaders seeking personal gain. It is not too difficult to imagine who he had in mind as it should be interpreted as a direct hint at the rule of Zuma who usurped him.

Unfortunately corruption, or the hint of it, is viewed in varying degrees of significance by the public at large in South Africa and the Nkandla saga will not significantly affect the result of the general election. But it must still, surely, worry those at the top in the ruling party.

While Zuma initially was an acceptable substitute for Mbeki's seemingly authoritarian rule, to some, he has become tainted by association with numerous dodgy deals and, through his leadership, is seriously tarnishing the image of the ANC. The role of the President is to act as a figure head for government in all its forms and to project an image that acts as a bench mark for investors eager to take part in the building of what still is a major country with huge potential for growth.

Sadly, he is failing on all counts there and has in his reign not provided any meaningful leadership or direction for government in general. But, with the timing of the report, there is little point in replacing Zuma now.

For one, there is no immediate replacement that springs to mind within the ANC, and the confusion and loss of confidence that would follow among supporters would be negative in the extreme for the party.

Nor will the Democratic Alliance's call for an impeachment of sorts be effective. If anything, it smacks too much like electioneering and will more than likely persuade voters to sympathise with and support the party that brought Independence.

ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, at a media briefing last week, made this clear when he dismissed any possibility of an apology from the party as “it is not mentioned in the report”. Apologies, if deemed necessary, would be left to the President and Minister of the Public Works and Defence. He did, however, indicate that the party would “take action against those who are implicated in any wrongdoing”.

Timing is everything in politics and, while Zuma apparently remains aloof from any form of criticism of his actions while President, wheels of retribution will doubtless be set in motion within the ANC. A day of reckoning in one form or another will fall on Zuma. Unfortunately for South Africa that day will most likely be later rather than sooner.

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