Friday, 31 March 2017

What is Zuma doing?


Jacob Zuma, by replacing Pravin Gordhan, the Finance Minister who rescued the South African economy from Zuma’s last attempt to capture control of the Treasury, and so open its doors to him and his co-conspirators, with Milusi Gigaba who has proven his loyalty to Zuma and his incompetence in almost every other field, has gained his dream team, at a cost to the South African people that will certainly be calculated at least in the billions. By this move, Zuma has proven conclusively to the world that he has only his own interests at heart.

The question that must be asked is why any elected President of a modern state, even if it has been brought down to a parlous level, would take this risk, or, better said, enter this new certainty. The answers should be clear to anyone who has even scanned the headlines over the time that Zuma has held the top job.

The first and most obvious reason is that Zuma’s term of office as President is limited to two terms. That means that, in terms of the Constitution, Zuma will be compelled to leave office by about the middle of 2019, when the next national elections are due.

Zuma faces numerous personal problems at present. The Court has ordered that the National Prosecuting Authority reinstate the 783 criminal charges against that were withdrawn by his friends in that Authority in order to enable Zuma to take the office of President. Zuma managed to delay the investigation of the process by means of which the charges were withdrawn by failing to order the NPA to hand over the tapes of the conversations leading to the decision to withdraw the charges. That failure could, in the hands of an honest government, be construed as a criminal act. When the criminal charges are brought, there is a very high probability that Zuma will face very lengthy jail terms for corruption, fraud and racketeering, and he will be in need of a friendly face as President, either to stop the charges, to grant early parole (as he did for the only man tried and convicted on those charges – his opposite number in the offences) or to grant him or to arrange that he has immunity from prosecution. That will not happen if the national election results bear any resemblance to the local government result, with the election of an honest government. Even if the ANC were to pull off a major miracle and gain a winning vote, Zuma’s replacement as President, it is likely that the new leader of the ANC, and so the State President, would want to be tainted with the reputation that Jacob Zuma has, and that will almost certainly imply that the new President will want to distance himself from Zuma as much as possible.

In addition to the outstanding criminal charges, Zuma will, in the coming years, face further charges, such as the criminal act of breaching both the Constitution and his Oath of Office in the Nkandla affair – his ‘apology for the confusion suffered by the public as a result of his willingness to repay the money’ certainly does not meet the requirements of the Constitutional Court or exculpate him from the consequences of that act, the Public Prosecutor Finding that a judicial enquiry be held into the involvement of Zuma and others near to him, itself a damning requirement, showing clearly the distrust of the upright and brave Public Protector in the honesty or integrity of the President. Any such Enquiry, if conducted by an honest Judge, unlike the recent enquiry into the Arms Deal, which carefully ignored container loads of documentary evidence to come to a conclusion that whitewashed the ANC cadres, must come to a recommendation to Parliament that the involved parties be sent to the big house.

There are numerous other criminal acts, even ignoring the economic sabotage that Zuma and his ANC have wreaked on the country. In any civilized society, Zuma would have been thrown out of office years ago, but in the South Africa that exists today, the Constitution and the bodies established in terms of it is no more than a worthless piece of paper, one that slows the actions needed to be taken to rape the country of the last amount of funds.

The conclusion is inescapable: Zuma, in his mind, has to stay in power, now and for the rest of his life. The actions Zuma has taken, not only recently, point to his determination to maintain his grip on power.

Jacob Zuma has a personal security force of 7 000, reporting solely to him. Where else in the world, apart from such idyllic places like Zimbabwe, Cuba, Russia and Venezuela, is a State President in need of such an army. Why in South Africa? He reinforces that army with a stranglehold over the Police (the previous Minister of Police admitted that in the Constitutional Court that he lied to Parliament to protect Zuma, and he has been replaced now with another worthless person, previously the Minister of Sport and Recreation, who has shown clearly his racial prejudices, probably in order to prevent the previous Minister from the consequences of appointing a judicially-declared liar and untrustworthy person as the Head of the Directorate of Priority Investigations), and over the Defence Force (don’t forget that he illegally activated over 400 soldiers to protect him, and to make a show of force, at his latest State of the Nation Address to Parliament), over the Hawks, the National Prosecuting authority. His control of virtually any State entity that manages large funds is clearly founded on the desire to avail himself of a significant portion of those funds, leaving only a 10% commission or finder’s fee to the ANC, while applying the levers of power over those bodies to ensure that his friends and associates gain the lion’s share of the pickings to be made from the contracts issued by those bodies. The fact that the Eskom customers are overpaying for their electricity by at least 30% does not seem to come to his attention, nor that a billion Rand tender has been handed to the step-daughter of the present General Manager, who claims that he did not know of it, although they live in the same house, that the passenger trains do not run because his cohorts have stolen between R14 billion and R23 billion from PRASA, that the poor suffer concern whether they will be paid their social grants because his favored Minister Dlamini insists, against a ruling by the Constitutional Court, on retaining the services of Cash Paymaster Services, a company in which a shareholding of 12,5% (a significant profit generator, in light of the R4 billion p.a. fee charged) remains unexplained, that the General Manager of the Petroleum Fund sold some R23 billion worth of strategic oil reserves at a price significantly lower than the lowest market value in the past 30 years, leaving the country without any fuel reserves, that education in the country ranks in the five lowest in the world, despite costing a greater part of the GDP than any other country, leaving nearly a million schoolchildren each year with a standard of education that is substantially lower than the minimum required in a world where technology is increasingly replacing manual labour.

The can be no doubt that Zuma is working to a game plan that will see him remain at the head of the country when the time comes for him to step down. He does not wish to view the world through steel bars. What will happen to prevent that?

The likeliest scenario sees Zuma precipitating a social crisis, and then using his military muscle to step in and declare a State of Emergency, discontinuing the power of Parliament and the Courts to allow him to manage the situation effectively. He has a good example of this in Robert Mugabe, who has ruled as dictator since he acceded to the Presidency. The timing of the Cabinet reshuffle, the night before Parliament goes into the Easter recess, speaks strongly to that move being made within the next weeks. Zuma cannot run the risk of his manouevres being foiled by Parliament, by attempts to bring a Motion of No Confidence in him, by Constitutional Court actions to force Parliament to impeach him or by moves by the strongly-disgruntled ANC National Executive Committee to ‘recall’ him as President.

When that happens, South Africa will enter a steep spiral of decline in every field, not least the economic. The Rand reacted quickly, dropping 5% in less than an hour.

The only way this disaster for South Africa, Africa and the world can be avoided is for all persons of goodwill to take strong and urgent steps to make their disquiet known to the ANC and to Jacob Zuma in unmistakable terms.

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