The dignity of the state capture commission has been held up by Zondo's personal approach. Even the most reluctant witness could not gather the rudeness to withdraw.
More sun than clouds. Mild.
President Jacob Zuma (File, AP)
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Under normal circumstance the Gupta-owned New Age is valuable for protecting casual job-seekers from hard and dusty pavements as they sit waiting for the odd bakkie to come and pick them up for a day’s work.
The Guptas ANN7 is good for hilarity as you hop through proper television channels.
But these two outlets do have another valuable use. They channel the thoughts of the nation’s most notorious family.
So if you want to know what instructions the Saxonwold Shebeen proprietors are barking to their servants and what insults they are hurling at the enemies of their servants it is advisable to tune into the truth according to Ajay, Tony and Atul.
This week the outlets were telling us how the Guptas felt the camp of their number one servant should react to last week’s tabling of a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
Throughout the week, the heat was on the ministers who either spearheaded or supported the motion. The New Age quoted sources saying those ministers should practice what they preach and resign because they had “ argued on moral grounds that the president must step down”.
Other sources were calling on Zuma to fire the ministers because “you cannot humiliate the president in this manner and not expect to pay the price,”.
“For a while now these ministers have been questioning his integrity, however this is the first time they came out in the open as a bloc. The president cannot have people in his Cabinet who cannot be trusted....The president needs to get tough. These people are not indispensable,” the ventriloquist newssheet said.
The paper even speculated that this week’s Cabinet meeting had been postponed to allow “the implicated ministers time to consider their predicament.”
Another source demanded that “the president must act and he must act now.”
Which brings us to the matter of what next after the unprecedented events of this week. Were there winners? Were there losers? Was it a draw? Is South Africa in a stalemate?
The president is no doubt heaving a sigh of relief that his troops recovered quickly from the ambush and mounted a spirited defence of him.
Zuma will have been pleased that he was able to take to the podium alongside the heroic Raul Castro, leader of a heroic socialist party, still bearing the title of leader of a heroic African liberation movement.
But Zuma would have been a worried man -both about the effectiveness of the ambush and about the nature of the “victory”.
The ambush meant that Zuma, the quintessential securocrat, had been failed by his networks in the state and in the ominous ANC security apparatus.
The marathon defence mounted by his supporters at the NEC hinged on two related- that there should nor be a vote on a motion on no-confidence and, failing which, the voting should not be by secret ballot.
In previous times when Zuma has been under siege, he has relied on All Blacks level of brutes to fight off his challengers inside and outside the ANC.
Any possible rebellion would be crushed through some shrewd chairing by Baleka Mbete, who would tilt the balance in favour of the defenders.
They would come running at the opposition at lightning speed and crush them before the discussion took on any serious shape. They would then slink away and let the brutes run the day.
This time there was no such. The proposers of the motion knew that there would be enough steam to withstand a stampeding attack from the other side. A lot of this had to do with the mood in the ANC and in the general public.
Rather than bolster Zuma, the NEC’s rallying around him in the after the Constitutional Court’s damning judgement earlier this year served to discredit them and to alienate South Africans.
Die-hard ANC supporters and members were so offended by their party’s behaviour that they decided to punish it in the August elections.
The party leadership’s response to the terrible elections results also did not help. It smacked of arrogance and hubris.
The “collective responsibility” story and the refusal to recognise the massive elephant (or is a mammoth) in the room showed that the down-slide was irreversible.
Instead of seeing the Public Protector’s state capture as a further wake up call the ANC saw fit to use it as yet another stick with which to beat Thuli Madonsela. She was the devil and those she was fingering were merely victims.
The Zuma brigade further dug its grave by fly-swatting away concerns by long-serving veterans -including Robben Islanders, MK commanders and other activists - who remained loyal despite the rot.
These veterans were rubbished and told they did not matter. Civil society organisations, led by people sympathetic to the ANC, were tagged enemies and told to shut up.
There is no turning back the tide now. If Zuma chooses to victimise the ministers, as he is being urged to do, he will open another onslaught from within the party. If he does nothing, it will embolden the silent critics to join in the clamour.
The next two months will be crucial in this battle. The celebratory January 8 anniversary occasion in hostile Gauteng will be closedly watched by Zuma’s people to make sure it is not used to humiliate him.
The beginning of the year NEC lekgotla will be the next occasion where the two sides will lock horns. By then a lot of ground-work will have been done by loyalists and critics.
The battle is joined.
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