Did Zuma compromise South Africa’s sovereignty for personal gain?

2017-04-20 18:01

Anti-Zuma forces would do well to emphasize the matter of sovereignty. They’re on shakier ground over corruption. Voices on the left and right can see that the whole game is pretty corrupt and has been for some time. Whites who got rich during white rule are in no position to talk about corruption. And nor are those who got rich during Mbeki’s and Mandela’s rule, e.g. Ramaphosa. Best to leave that issue and move swiftly along to the one that hurts Zuma most – sovereignty.

Did Zuma compromise South Africa’s political and economic sovereignty for personal gain? I’ve yet to come across a coherent argument that refutes the charge. I’ve heard appeals for caution, for patience, for lateral thinking, for intellectual gymnastics, but I haven’t seen a shred of proof to refute the serious allegation that Zuma regards South Africa’s sovereignty as an exchangeable commodity. Like chiefs of yore bargained away their sovereign and sacred land for beads and trinkets, he has traded South Africa’s sovereignty for cash.

I have heard some hints that the Guptas are doing good by bringing more Africans into the economy and sharing ownership with them. It would be interesting to see a balanced survey showing if the Guptas have indeed been strong on African empowerment. If not they’re going to run out of money trying to bribe their way to legitimacy.

Pravin Gordhan spoke directly to the ANC Youth League at Ahmed Kathrada’s memorial when he said: “If unity has been bought with paper bags of cash it’s not unity.” Or words to that effect. Of course Zuma and his supporters will start to attack the financiers. All populists do that when they run out of money. But you may as well berate the sea for being salty. In the modern age finance is king and will be for a while longer.

The ANC, or Malema, or whoever wants to push the agenda of radical economic transformation (really ‘normalisation’ given how racially skewed things are) should do so from a position of sovereignty. The African elite must work out how the cream gets scooped off the top and who gets what. And then they should stick to the agreement. If they break ranks it doesn’t mean someone was being disloyal. It means someone got greedy.

Zuma got greedy. If he’d gone to the African elite for ideas on how to secure his financial future he most probably would have got away with it.

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