For Mboweni's growth plan to succeed the ANC has to give up certain dogmatic positions that were formulated when 7% growth was the status quo, writes Adriaan Basson.
High level clouds. Mild.
President Jacob Zuma during his closing speech. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)
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will see a number of important court cases that could well impact on the
Because of these and earlier cases the ANC is grumbling
increasingly about “court d’etats” (i.e. opponents using court cases to
“run” the country).
Of course this would not be
the case if the ANC government would not make themselves vulnerable to legal
action by dubious political decisions and actions, or if they would win more of
the cases taken by the opposition parties against them.
Of the numerous cases
pending, three in particular seem to be enjoying the attention of many people
due to the possible political ramifications in particular for the ANC
The first case relates to the re-instatement
of the 783 charges against President Zuma:
In 2016, the Pretoria High
Court ruled that Zuma should face 783 charges of fraud, racketeering and
corruption. The court ruled that the decision taken in 2009 by Mokotedi Mpshe, then
head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), to drop the charges on the
basis that they were politically motivated, was irrational.
The NPA and Zuma approached
the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein, who agreed to hear arguments
on this matter on 15 September.
Many legal commentators
believe that the High Court ruling will be upheld and that the charges would be
reinstated, which raises the question whether the ANC NEC will then finally ask
the president to step down.
I don’t believe they will.
It is almost certain that the NEC members will argue that he is innocent until
proven guilty and that the matter will have to run its course before any
decision can be made.
The more interesting
question is whether it could impact on the succession race at the electoral conference
at the end of the year. Again, I don’t believe that it will have any
In the event of a ruling
that the charges should be re-instated the president will almost certainly take
the matter to the Constitutional Court. Given that the SCA can take anything
between three weeks to three months to rule on a matter and that Zuma can only
then approach the Concourt, it is almost impossible for this issue to be
finalised before the electoral conference (assuming it will still take place in
Yes, the anti-Zuma faction
might feel some sense of vindication on this matter, but it will be little more
The second case relates to Zuma being
In March, the EFF filed a court application with the Constitutional
Court to order the Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete to institute impeachment
proceedings against Zuma. This matter will be heard on the September 5th. The
EFF alleges that the president lied to Parliament on numerous occasions and that
this, together with his response to the Nkandla scandal, are grounds for
However, most legal commentators do not believe that this application
will succeed on the basis that it would violate the doctrine of the separation
of powers that impeachment of a president is a
prerogative of Parliament and not the judiciary.
The EFF argues that it is well within the court’s powers to instruct Parliament
to do what they believe to be its duty. But even on the off-chance that the
court agrees with the EFF, it is important to remember that the matter would still
have to be decided by the ANC-controlled Parliament.
In order to impeach the president, two-thirds (or 267) of the members
have to vote for the motion. Given that only 177 were willing to vote for the
motion of no confidence recently, the chance of such a motion succeeding is
As we saw during the vote of no confidence, such a motion would further
consolidate the ANC against a “common enemy” and thus only strengthen the Zuma
faction as we get closer to the electoral conference.
The third case relates to the validity of the
KZN provincial executive:
Two weeks ago a disgruntled
group of KZN ANC members took the KZN provincial executive (PEC) to the
Pietermaritzburg High Court. They argued that irregularities and corruption
took place during the 2015 electoral conference and asked the court to rule
that the provincial executive should be dissolved and the election re-run. We
are now awaiting judgement.
The court’s ruling in this
matter could be crucial for the outcome of the national leadership battle.
Currently the KZN PEC is controlled by Zuma supporters and thus they can
influence (some would even argue control) the provincial nomination for ANC president
as well as the composition of the KZN delegation to the electoral conference.
KZN will have the largest
number of delegates at the conference. Given that the presidential race is
extremely tight at the moment and that no candidate can win without significant
support from KZN, a change at the provincial executive level could swing the outcome
of the presidential race.
Of course both sides could
still appeal the outcome of the case and that in turn could play into the hands
of those who would like the conference to be delayed.
There are numerous other
cases of a political nature before the courts. However, the three mentioned
above are the big ones that have many holding their breaths. With the exception
of the KZN PEC case, the rest will do little more than raise debate and kick up
the usual media storm.
- Melanie Verwoerd is a former ANC MP and South African Ambassador to Ireland. 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.* Only comments that contribute to a constructive debate will be approved by moderators.
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