State Capture: Do the shocking findings mean the end for Zuma?

By Kirstin Buick
03 November 2016

Experts weigh in.

On Wednesday afternoon all South Africa held its breath waiting to see if the Public Protector would release her report on alleged state capture.

President Jacob Zuma initially did everything in his power to stop the release of the damning report by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, but in vain.

But do the serious allegations of bribery and corruption mean the end of Zuma? After all, he’s one of the most slippery presidents the world has ever seen. We asked experts for their views.

Read more: ‘We made the president’s son a billionaire’

It’s possible -- Max du Preez

Foto: Twitter

“I think this is definitely one of the last nails in Zuma’s coffin – but whether it’s the very last one no one can say,” says political analyst Max du Preez.

He says the ANC will have to decide what’s in their best interests. “Their chances of being successful in the 2019 election will be severely harmed if they don’t distance themselves from Zuma,” he says. “But they might choose not to take action for fear that the ANC will become divided if Zuma has to go.”


Read Public Protector ‘State Capture’ report in full


But if Zuma continues as he has for the past 11 months the chances are good that he won’t be president by the end of 2017, Max says.

“In December last year he fired Nhlanhla Nene and reappointed him; then there’s the Nkandla scandal, the saga with the Guptas and the corruption charges against him.”

Zuma realises that he’s at his safest while he’s president so he will cling to the post. “It’s difficult to jail the sitting president, especially because Zuma is playing power games.”

Max says there are still many powerful people Zuma has promised favours. “There are still people who want to make money out of the nuclear power contract and the Gupta family is probably still looking for something.”

But at the same time there’s a tidal wave of opposition, also from within the National Executive Committee, Max says.

“It’s possible that the ANC’s inner circle are waiting to see what will become of the corruption charges against Zuma. Once it’s known if he will be charged, they could tell him it’s time to go.”

Not easily – Professor Dirk Kotzé

Foto: Who's Who SA

Professor Dirk Kotzé, a political analyst from Unisa, says he believes Thuli’s report won’t lead to much change. “He has survived everything, from Nkandla to this year’s election and the latest drama around Pravin Gordhan. This isn’t a watershed.”

We must remember that Zuma has six months to put together a commission to investigate the allegations in the report and that the findings in the report aren’t final. “I also believe that the National Prosecuting Authority won’t go to any trouble or be quick to reintroduce corruption charges against Zuma.”

One thing that could well make things hot for Zuma is Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan’s, revelations about what goes on in the Guptas’ financial affairs. During an investigation the Financial Intelligence Centre came across a series of irregularities in the Guptas’ bank statements.

“The information there could be explosive, and if Zuma is charged based on that something could come of it if he’s found guilty.”

The commission Zuma must set up will have to take the Public Protector’s findings further. “Everything in her report is particularly suspicious, but is there anything concrete?”

Yes, but not now – Theo Venter

Foto: NWU-webtuiste

“I think this state capture report is Zuma’s swan song, but we’ll have to wait a while before we see him go,” says Theo Venter, a political analyst at North West University.

A politician like Zuma is at his most dangerous when cornered because he’s unpredictable, he says.

“His position in the ANC was until recently almost unassailable, but things have begun to change in the past few weeks. Parliament is holding the SABC board to account, Zuma was given a bloody nose when charges against Pravin Gordhan were dropped, and ANC heavyweights such as Jackson Mthembu have begun to openly speak out against Zuma.”

Venter says Jackson wouldn’t do so unless he had support from within the ANC. He adds that Zuma’s sudden withdrawl of his application to stop the Public Protector’s state capture report was probably a result of pressure from the ANC.

“They’re beginning to take care of their own interests. When someone goes bankrupt it begins slowly then suddenly happens very quickly. I suspect this is what will happen with Zuma.

My prediction is that the hourglass will run out for him in December 2017.”

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