Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Who’ll save South Africa from Zuma?

            South African president Jacob Zuma is a cat with seven souls. Since he came to power, he has become more a liability to his country than an asset. Since unseating former President Thabo Mbeki, Zuma has proved to be more of a chief than a president. His political life’s weathered many scandals such as rape, abusing the office of the president, embezzlement of public funds (Nkandla scam), Marikana shootings in which miners were killed, adultery and above all corruption especially his ties with an infamous family known as Guptas, three Indian brothers who turned South Africa into their El Dorado using Zuma and associates. There recently surfaced some accusations liking the Gupta family alleging they promised some politicians of ministerial positions provided they safeguard the Guptas’ heinous interests. True, due to such machinations, Zuma was forced to hire and fire three Finance Ministers within a week.
Zuma’s quandary doesn’t end up on Nkandla scam. It goes further involving his family members especially his son Duduzane who’s alleged to be behind many scams of which is the 2013 scandal in which Dudu (as he is known) allowed his influence to be exploited by the Guptas that landed their private jet at Waterkloof military airbase something that’s construed to have compromised national security. The Daily Maverick May 3rd 2013 had this to say vis-à-vis marriage between Zuma and the Gupta. “It is not a secret that President Zuma and members of his family are financially entangled with the Guptas. (Previously, President Zuma was financially entangled with Schabir Shaik in what the High Court called a “mutually beneficial symbiosis”– before the relationship broke down when that encrypted fax temporarily landed Shaik in jail–and at “death’s” door–for corrupting and bribing Zuma).”
            Before the Gupta saga waned, the Nkandla scandal in which Zuma is alleged to have illegally benefited from the upgrade of his homestead in his home village of Nkandla kicked in. This scandal was unearthed by the Public Protectors, Thuli Madonsela, who ordered Zuma to pay the extra money as a remedial action. Firstly, Zuma rubbished such an order;and thus, forced the opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), to sue Zuma before the Constitution Court of South Africa which recently ruled that Zuma must pay back the money as a remedial action as ordered by the Public Protector within 45 days after the Treasury calculating the amount he’s supposed to pay. The eleven-bench court ruled in favour of the EFF holding that what Zuma did amounts to tantamount of constitutional breach. The court went ahead hailing the Public Protectors as David who took on the Goliath. After this historic ruling, Zuma made an apology for what happened. However, the opposition disparaged it as an insult to the nation. It wanted him to go. What seems to help Zuma stand his ground is the fact that the mode of forcing him seems to be convoluted in that a section of opposition led by the Democratic Alliance (DA) seeks to impeach Zuma while two months ago this method failed thank to Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) party having the majority. Sensing the danger of this move, the EFF wants South Africans to take to the streets to force Zuma out.
 Before this ruling, Zuma squarely refused to pay the money back. Once the case was instituted, Zuma made a U-turn and threw the towel in that he’d pay the money. Tactically, Zuma aimed at avoiding such legally and politically damning rule.
            Given that Zuma–thanks to patronage politics–survived all scandals, many think that, this time around he’ll get away with murder. However, by the look of things, the EFF is hell-bent to see to it that Zuma packs and hits the road. How possible is this? It remains to be seen. While the EFF is taking on Zuma, his scandals are dealing a death blow to the economy of South Africa.
            Before and after coming to power, Zuma hasn’t broken away from controversy.  He’s currently facing a looming situation whereby he’s required to resign. Although corruption has been there since apartheid time, South Africans think it seems to have surged after Zuma came to power so as to become endemic and widespread in the country now. For a while now, South African has evidenced the wave of calling that aimed at exerting pressure on Zuma to vacate the office of the president. Zuma may pooh-pooh this. However, the dent has already been incurred on his presidency. Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu was quoted as saying, “A society that assigns resources on the basis of peoples' proximity to power is no less sinful to one that assigns resources on the basis of skin colour.”  For Tutu, corruption is as bad as apartheid was due to the fact that the national cake is eaten by a kit and caboodle of a few connected elites and their consociates leaving the majority out of the party as it currently is under Zuma. Such a statement is very denting. Another icon of liberation, Ahmed Kathrada added his weight urging Zuma to go.
The BBC noted that President Jacob Zuma has been the chief target of anger, with $24 million (21 million euros) of improvements to his private residence becoming a symbol of alleged government misspending and mega corruption. South Africans are questioningly wondering.  How such humongous money can be spent on Zuma’s security upgrade while the situation was different for his predecessors. The Guardian November 23rd 2013 wondered too. It reported, “The 215m rand spent on Zuma's home is in stark contrast to state money spent on improving the security of previous presidents, the Mail and Guardian said. FW de Klerk, South Africa's last white president, who left office in 1994, received 236,000 rand (£14,179) for upgrades to his house, while 32m rand (£1.9m) was spent on Nelson Mandela's home.
                        On his part–sometimes back in 2013–former South African president, Thabo Mbeki slammed Zuma for failing to answer question by parliamentarians on Nkandla scandal. Mbeki was quoted as saying, “I’m sure that all of us, including the parliamentarians, never expected that such a thing would happen in parliament ... I sat in the same hall from 1994 to 2008 and either listened to or participated in making many state of the nation addresses and nothing of the sort ever happened.” Furthermore, due to being a feeble president, Newspapers had it in South Africa that the Guptas reached a point of asking for diplomatic passports the demand which South African authorities refused to grant.
            To show how deeper the relationship between Zuma and Gupta family is, one Member of Parliament (MP) David Maynier, (Democratic Alliance) was quoted as telling the parliament back in 2013  that, “There is a widely held perception that when the Guptas say ‘jump’, the president says, 'how high?” Again, this being the real situation South Africa is in, who’ll save it from Zuma?
Source: The African Executive.

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