Guest Column

Editorial: How much more of Zuma can we take?

2017-04-02 07:49

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The media statement from the presidency was brusque: “President Jacob Zuma has instructed the minister of finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan, and Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas to cancel the international investment promotion roadshow to the UK and the US, and return to South Africa immediately.”

Note those words: “instructed”, “cancel”, “immediately”. Note the abruptness of it all.

And note the fact that this was no jaunt, but a mission to sell South Africa to investors and reassure ratings agencies that we were on the road to recovery.

This trip was a chance for the South African delegation – which also comprised businesspeople and trade unionists – to show the world that despite the madness of December 2015, we are a rational people.

The delegation would have continued doing the repair work that it had begun after what is referred to as our 9/12: Zuma’s firing of then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and replacing him with a man who looks permanently bewildered.

South Africa, they would have said in unison, would never toy with suicide again.

They would have shown how the 2016/17 budget, delivered by Gordhan in February, was a continuation of the work to put South Africa on a positive trajectory.

Economic fallout 

But Zuma had other ideas. As the UK delegation began their meetings, he was scripting a sequel to the December 2015 catastrophe. He had decided to fire Gordhan and Jonas. Insiders say in discussions with the ANC’s top brass, he hid behind his presidential prerogative and an “intelligence report” – later revealed to be fake news – claiming Gordhan and Jonas were overseas to drum up support for regime change.

The result of Zuma’s action was to undo much of the hard work done since his last stink bomb. South Africa endured a week of uncertainty, the markets wobbled and the rand took a serious knock. The country was on a knife edge, with political tensions running sky-high.

Then he dropped the atom bomb. As the long arm of the clock bridged Thursday and Friday, he fired Gordhan, Jonas and several other ministers.

Some deadwood deserved to go; they were never Cabinet material anyway. Others were axed to make way for loyalists and for those who would ease Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s passage to the ANC presidency in December.

As had been predicted, the economic fallout was immense. The rand, which had been on a steady recovery path, went into free fall. Billions were wiped off the stock exchange as investors reduced their exposure to South African assets. The reality of a downgrade to junk status stares us in the face. An anaemic economy that was stuttering back to life was imperilled.

The semi-literate buffoon at the helm of the republic was not really bothered by this. He had exercised power and fulfilled the wishes of his Saxonwold masters. That is what mattered.

The marginalised are the casualties 

What did not occur to Zuma – or was just too much for his selfish heart to accept – was that the victims of his actions were the ordinary people of this country.

He and his cronies may believe that the money that has been wiped off the stock exchange belongs to wealthy South Africans. But the real losers are the country’s low-income citizens, whose meagre savings are much more vulnerable to downturns and upheavals.

A blow to economic growth is not a strike against “white monopoly capital” or whatever bogeyman Zuma and his fellow travellers believe in. It is the working class and the unemployed who suffer most.

It is the tax base from which social grants, healthcare, education and infrastructure projects are funded that is squeezed.

The marginalised are the casualties of junk status and an unfavourable investment climate.

So, when this one man – the most corruptible individual who has occupied office in democratic South Africa – sees fit to once more violate his oath of office by working against South Africa’s interests, he attacks the poor of our country.

When he destabilises South Africa on behalf of his masters, cronies and family, it is not the well-off he hurts but those people he lies to when he mouths radical rhetoric – the people he and his comrades patronisingly refer to as “our people”.

When will this Zuma nightmare end? When will South Africa be liberated from this hostage situation?

When will the country be decolonised from this filthy family that has so captured our state and corrupted our public life? When will the ANC, the once-proud and glorious liberation movement, free itself from the grubby clique that is besmirching its proud legacy for selfish gain?

Many are pinning their hopes on Zuma exiting public office after his term as ANC president ends in December and he is rendered a lame duck. The hope is that once he loses the levers of party power, he will be game for removal from the Union Buildings.

However, given his propensity to cause massive mayhem at the drop of a hat, can South Africa really stomach another eight months (or more) of this man?

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  politics
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