Your Move, Mr President

2015-12-14 18:54

One has to spare a thought for David Van Rooyen. From now to eternity he is going to be a Trivial Pursuit question. He is going to be the extra marks option in the EMS exam; for an additional 3 points, name the person who was Minister of Finance in South Africa for just a weekend. (And what a weekend it was). Or, maybe some really tricky trickster teacher will shake it up a bit and say; For 3 extra marks, name the Finance Minister who crashed the South African Rand and wiped like a hundred million billion off the JSE in like a minute.

Spare a thought, because right now the only person who must feel worse than Van Rooyen does, is the President who made the decision to appoint him.

Gosh, well that didn’t work out quite as planned. And one can’t really fault the President for calling this one all wrong. Long accustomed to getting what he wants (when he wants it), he really could hardly be blamed for thinking that trusting South Africans will believe the appointment of Van Rooyen was a smart one simply because he said so. After all they did seem to get over the fire pool thing and seem to have long forgotten about “Guptagate” all whilst Shabir Shaik improves his handicap and the Judiciary is scratches its sage head wondering how Omar al Bashir could have left the country. How indeed was he to know that this would be the straw that finally not only would break the camel’s back but nearly relegate the entire specie to extinction?

Nope, the President can’t be feeling all that great himself. Not known far and wide for his flexible approach, one can only imagine what went on behind the scenes that led to the about-face. Perhaps he was given a piece of paper and asked to read out loud the value wiped off the stock exchange (he hates that sort of thing). Or perhaps as a survivor extraordinaire he realised that if this rabbit didn't get put back in the hat, there was no knowing how this show would end.

He did the right thing. And he needs to be commended for that. He didn’t need to. He could have stuck to his plan and waited for us to get over it (as we always do). But he didn’t, and the economy and the currency reacted immediately. The appointment of Pravin Gordhan was a master stroke and was exactly what the country needed as we listed dangerously from side to side. He is a steady hand at the wheel and the perfect choice to right the vessel.

And now President Zuma needs to continue what he has already started. He needs to step down. With all the dignity that he can muster, he needs to hold his head up high; he needs to push back his shoulders, put on a serious and brave face and he needs to tell the nation that he no longer wishes to lead. It will be enormously difficult and terribly painful for him, but he knows it’s the only option.

In turn, South Africa needs to grant him immunity from all the allegations that have dogged him for years, we need to get over the Nkandla loss and stop asking him to pay back the money. Resigning from leadership of the country is payment enough. He needs to spend his remaining years at Nkandla free from the worry of prosecution and let the corruption issues go. It’s cheap at the price and will be well worth the financial write off.

The ANC in turn needs to “man-up” and acknowledge what a poor example they have been. They can blame their leadership if that’s more palatable but they have next to nothing to be proud of. They have disgraced themselves and their proud history and have let down the very people who they have been elected to serve. They are a party of excess and folly. And they need to clean up their act. They need to look in the mirror and follow their leader’s example if they are not able to get their act together. Anyone who stays needs to roll up their sleeves and get to work. We have a country to save.

It’s really that simple.

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