Zuma and “State Capture”– Viper in the Bosom of the Nation

2016-08-29 10:05

Isn’t it remarkable that one as physically unprepossessing as Zuma should have attracted so many followers? The mystery deepens when one considers -

• his absence of personal morality – which he justifies as “cultural values” (an indulgence and pursuit of polygamy and womanising);

• his ethical compass – or lack of it - as highlighted by multiple counts of fraud against him, all conveniently suppressed by political machinations and intrigue;

• the absence of intellect – as manifested in his embarrassing lack of numeracy and articulateness;

• his abuse of the state and state enterprises, which he manipulates under provisions of our (now highly questionable) constitution.

The list goes on.

And at what cost to the nation?

This can be answered at three levels.

Firstly, to rank and file South Africans, on account of both his avarice and devious nature he drains opportunities that would otherwise be on offer to all in a successful and competitive economy and functional democracy.

Secondly, to the ruling (ANC) party – where few have the guts to speak our – he is an embarrassment.

And thirdly, on the international stage he is another icon of African failure, democracy on the skids. He showcases big man politics and wasted opportunities for millions.

But that is not all.

Full blown “state capture” – an unknown term until a few years ago – is clearly his end game and he is now in full stride. Electoral setbacks do not concern him and he has just appointed himself to head up a committee on the working of State Owned Enterprise (SOEs) in a classic real-time case study of using a hyena to guard the cattle.

When asked in a recent radio interview how Zuma has become Teflon coated - Moeletsi Mbeki made an interesting and irrefutable point. It is worth noting his words.

What he suggests is that Zuma survives because he knows no loyalty to anyone.

At Polokwane and Mangaung, Zuma was promoted on populist tickets to positions of authority but many promoting his cause received neither recognition for doing so nor the fruits of patronage that they might have expected. Indeed many in positions of authority were fired and replaced with new and pliable, hand chosen, acolytes. The net result is that Zuma owes few of the people remaining in key positions, anything. Indeed, very much to the contrary.

His appointees, such as the Tina Joematt Petersens, Dudu Myenis and Hlaudi Motsoenengs, of this world (to mention a few) – are beholden to Zuma, and serve as his lap dogs. The fact that they are, with very few exceptions, palpably incompetent and see their brief as doing the president’s bidding is key to his state capture ambitions and having his own way. And there is no one left at the table to challenge him. Except the Treasury.

And because the wheel-wobbles have grown in intensity (think sea fisheries; SAA bailouts; the implosion of SABC and failure of the post office for example) the scale of financial interventions needed to keep Zuma’s bloated bureaucracies and misadventures afloat, has grown.

But the funds are not there – short of again raping taxpayers.

It is this that has brought Treasury – which seemingly carries the banner of financial probity and sustainability on its own – into direct conflict with the presidency. But perhaps the most telling and concerning issue is the fact that the entire ANC party machine is rendered impotent in the face of one man. And worse seems to be on the cards – with the arrest of our finance minister by the Hawks increasingly likely.

Whether one perceives him as dumb and cynical, Machiavellian or an outright brigand, Zuma will have to go down in the annals of political science as one of the most devious and calculating of politicians. To highjack the integrity of a 104 year old organization takes some doing – especially given that he would be hard pressed to count that high.

But to single handedly bring the national economy to the brink of ruin for own gain and expediency suggests a uniquely toxic and malevolent person; a viper in the bosom of the nation.

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