It is sad when a party loses talented people. It is sadder when one has worked for decades to build a party to see it teetering on the brink of a major setback.
President Jacob Zuma. (AP)
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President Jacob Zuma’s
opponents inside and outside the ANC should shift their strategy from trying to
unseat him now to one aimed at making sure that his faction doesn’t again make
a clean sweep at the ANC’s elective conference in December.
That means those inside the
ANC should stay inside, keep up their pressure on Zuma and mobilise
energetically on regional and local level.
South Africa is strong enough
to survive without too much structural damage for eight more months, despite
the almost inevitable recession and political paralysis.
But if there is going to be
another Zuma as ANC leader in December and Zuma himself remains president of
the country until 2019, South Africa is very likely to follow the disastrous path
The opposition’s motion of no
confidence scheduled for next week is a legitimate political move, but won’t
result in Zuma’s resignation.
Still, it’s going to be
interesting to see what sworn Zuma opponents like Pravin Gordhan, Derek
Hanekom, Mathole Motshekga and Makhosi Khoza will do.
If they vote for the motion,
the ANC will probably suspend their membership. This could increase the
possibility of another breakaway party.
It seems more likely that
they and a few other MPs would abstain, while some may prefer to not be present
when voting takes place.
Nelson Mandela’s greatest
gift to South Africa was stability. Because of our history and demographics,
our stability is very fragile. Stability is a precondition for freedom,
democracy and economic prosperity.
If we can’t break the present
vicious cycle, we will lose our stability. In the worst-case scenario, this
could result in ethnic conflict, the violent occupation of commercial farms,
the collapse of the judicial system and eventually widespread popular uprisings.
This scenario is unlikely,
but not impossible. As we have seen in recent times, the potential for
political violence is very real.
This is the vicious downward
cycle in which South Africa is caught right now:
Zuma and his camp had sold
their souls to the Guptas and other wealthy state capturers and tenderpreneurs,
who then demanded – and got – their pound of flesh.
Combined with the looting of
state owned enterprises, maladministration, corruption, nepotism, faction
fighting and policy confusion this resulted in the neglect of the poor
communities and of service delivery, slow economic growth and the wasting of
many billions of rands.
As the pressure on Zuma
increased, he increasingly resorted to populism. In a strategy designed by a (white)
British image consultancy, he blamed “white monopoly capital” for all the
country’s ills; made wild and unrealistic promises as part of the mantra of
“radical economic transformation”; and started playing the emotional land card.
This reckless, cynical
manipulation of the existing resentments and impatience resulted in a sharp
increase in the levels of expectation among black South Africans and damaged
The higher the expectations and
political temperature, the more nervous the private sector becomes and the more
reluctant to invest their money and grow their businesses.
The economy becomes weaker,
unemployment increases and poverty deepens. Investors run away, the currency
collapses, inflation increases and the recession deepens.
It becomes even more difficult
to deliver on promises and manage expectations, which means whites get more of
the blame, and the political temperature rises even more. And so we spiral
Zuma has now shown very
clearly that he will not hesitate to violate the Constitution to stay in power.
He is increasingly using
Mugabe tactics to entrench himself in power: use the youth and the so-called
war veterans as stormtroopers; intimidate and threaten opponents; abuse the
intelligence and state security machinery; exploit the divide between rural and
urban people; mobilise along tribal lines; and fan the fires of racial hatred.
Even if, by some miracle,
Zuma would want to act in the national interest, his powerful financial backers
and recipients of his patronage won’t allow him.
These people don’t care if
the economy is destroyed. The Guptas and other rich crooks could simply move to
Dubai, while Zuma’s political inner circle knows that their access to the state
coffers will remain unimpeded, as happened in Angola and Zimbabwe.
We saw this in the remarks by
Zuma insiders after the second credit downgrade.
Minister of Water and
Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane said it would be “better” if Western investors
pulled out of the country.
SAA chair Dudu Myeni said:
“Let the rand fall and rise and emerge with the masses.” Black Business Council
director Danisa Baloyi said: “Who really cares?”
But we shouldn’t be too
despondent right now.
More than 80 000 people
showed last week – and more will show that tomorrow – that they are not
prepared to be trampled on.
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