Has Zuma been reduced to a puppet?

2018-01-12 10:41

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President Jacob Zuma has been reduced to a puppet leader with the newly-elected ANC leadership calling the shots in government, say ANC sources.

According to several members of the newly-elected ANC National Executive Committee (NEC), the new top brass has already instructed Zuma to reshuffle his Cabinet as part of a raft of interventions designed to restore confidence in government. They said Ramaphosa, who met Zuma in KZN recently, had presented the embattled head-of-state with a list of items which Zuma is required to implement in order to restore confidence in government and defuse calls for him to be recalled.

“He had agreed to co-operate with the new ANC leadership by giving the party space to dictate how government matters should be handled going forward. Zuma has also been told that he needed to reshuffle his Cabinet,” said an NEC member who is close to Ramaphosa. “As the NEC we are glad that Zuma has demonstrated an appreciation that, given the damage done to the country’s reputation in recent years, it can’t be business as usual.

“There is an expectation out there for the new ANC leadership to step in as a matter of urgency and start repairing government’s image,” he said.

The Witness has established that some members of the newly-elected NEC had started lobbying for Zuma’s removal immediately after last month’s ANC national elective conference. However, plans to recall Zuma were put on ice after his meeting with Ramaphosa.

“During that meeting Zuma made it clear he won’t be a stumbling block to interventions by the new ANC leadership, said another NEC member. Those interventions had been designed to “win back public confidence and demonstrate to the entire world that the party is committed to rooting out all forms of corruption within government”.

Concessions made by Zuma during the meeting apparently included the establishment of a commission of inquiry into state capture. Zuma met this requirement on Tuesday when he officially announced the launch of the commission to be led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

“If ever there is anything jeopardising the ANC’s chances of winning the 2019 general elections it is this state capture thing. This is why comrades were angered when Zuma decided to appeal the court judgment ordering him to establish the inquiry into state capture,” said the source. “I can tell you now Zuma would have been recalled during Wednesday’s NEC meeting had he not made that announcement,” the source said.

To avoid hiccups during preparations for next month’s State of the National Address (Sona), it was agreed that Zuma should reshuffle Cabinet shortly after the address.

“One of the things that has created a lot of instability in government is the reshuffles that Zuma made in recent months, where people were deployed to key portfolios without any consideration of whether they have the capabilities to run those portfolios,” an NEC member said.

On the eve of last month’s national elective conference Zuma shocked many when he announced the roll out of free tertiary education to all students from poor families. It has since emerged that Zuma had made the announcement without first checking if National Treasury had the budget to fund the project.

While there was very little the new ANC leadership could do to reverse the decision, the party top brass has since taken measures to ensure that Zuma did not make any controversial pronouncements in the future. “If he co-operates with the ANC there won’t be any need for him to be recalled,” an NEC member said.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  pietermaritzburg

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