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President Jacob Zuma acts in a manner that fast-tracks the removal of the ANC
from power, one wonders whether anyone remembers the reasons he gave for the
recall of President Thabo Mbeki.
actions and inactions undermine people’s confidence in the ANC and government,
sparking nation-wide protests, it is important to remind ourselves of what, in
his view, should happen.
In 2008, he
said: “The country needs a strong, united ruling party at the helm of
government, capable of galvanising support for the government’s developmental
agenda. As the ruling party, we need to sustain the confidence of our people in
the ANC and in its government. Once this level of confidence is weakened, the
ANC has no alternative but to take action.”
words, Zuma had given the reasons for Mbeki’s recall. You need not be an astute
political observer to realise that, based on this criteria for presidential
recall, Zuma qualifies with distinction.
his resignation or recall have fallen on deaf ears. Many South Africans have
decided to take to the streets to express their disapproval of his leadership
and to stress their call on him to step down after he and the Guptas took the
disastrous decision to fire Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas.
the ANC will once again brush aside the anger of the society they claim to
lead. But with the hardship caused by Zuma’s leadership in full force by 2019,
voters won’t need reminding how their cry was ignored by the supposedly “caring”
and “selfless” ANC. When Zuma unleashes harm on the nation, in contravention of
his oath of office, he gets a standing ovation from the ANC’s leadership.
It wouldn’t worry South Africans if the effect of his disastrous
leadership was limited to his party. The problem is that the entire nation is
under siege. Whether or not you are interested in politics, you cannot escape
the fact that the decisions Zuma and the Gupta brothers take in their own
interests, have a negative impact on your prospects of finding or keeping a
job, keeping your business running, accessing credit or having infrastructure
in your area.
Thanks to him, we are a junk country that will struggle to access
expensive loans that will be hard to repay because of a slow economy that will
not recover soon because the private sector that drives it has lost confidence
in the government. The interests on existing loans have already eaten a huge
chunk of below-target tax revenues announced by SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane
Zuma has unleashed upon us a vicious cycle of suffering. Although most
of South Africa’s debt is rand denominated, this is not a reprieve because the
local banks have also been downgraded, making it difficult for them to raise
capital. State-owned companies won’t escape the downgrade because their
creditworthiness is linked to the sovereign.
Municipalities are also being downgraded. And some major South African private
sector companies, the real creators of jobs, have been put in the spotlight by
credit rating agencies. The tax base will shrink further. In short, the tragic
consequences of Zuma’s presidency are yet to be realised in full.
Many South Africans are puzzled why the ANC is committing suicide when
the whole country, including its veterans, are advising its leaders to open
their eyes to see their follies and mend their ways.
There are a few reasons. Firstly, those responsible for the suicidal
path of the party are benefiting from its current crisis. They think short
term. But even their short term thinking is too short because it ends in 2019,
after which most of them will have neither power nor arrogance to display. The
last four elections have seen many ANC representatives – members of Parliament,
members of provincial legislatures and councillors – losing their positions.
Secondly, the curse of the majority has destroyed reason within the
party. So, in the National Working Committee and National Executive Committee
what matters is not the strength of an argument but how many votes it secures.
Numbers have replaced rationality. It matters not that Zuma’s actions are
destroying the party and the country. What matters is that most leaders in the
party support him.
Thirdly, it is the death of courage. A party whose history is well decorated
with leaders who were prepared to die for freedom is today staffed with leaders
who have no courage to stand up when the future of the party is at stake. Those
who take principled positions are too quick to retreat meekly. Cyril Ramaphosa,
Gwede Mantashe and Zweli Mkhize were forced into an embarrassing retreat after
they expressed their disgust at the manner in which Zuma takes his mandate
“elsewhere”. Whereas past suffering instilled courage, present comfort zones
have the opposite effect.
Lastly, it is the distribution of patronage. So far, the patronage
resources are able to cover all those who matter for Zuma’s survival. Although
this is shrinking, especially after the recent electoral losses in major
metropolitan areas, Zuma and his backers still control key sites of power and
are able to efficiently allocate trappings to buy support and punish dissenters.
South Africans are the victim of the ANC dynamics. A combination of these
factors is good news for opposition parties who take themselves seriously. Half
of their job is already done. Whatever they say about Zuma, they can’t blame
him for failing to pave the way for them to take over in 2019.
- Mpumelelo Mkhabela is a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) at the University of Pretoria.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.
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