If Zuma goes…

Currently the African National Congress’s (ANC) highest decision making body outside of its elective congress, the National Executive Committee (NEC) is meeting for the final time in 2016.

The meeting was scheduled to conclude yesterday, but due to a surprise motion to ask the president to step down, the meeting has gone into an extra day.

Now according to this report, 3 ministers led calls to either ask the president to step down, or for the NEC to remove him. All indications are that the motion was voted down. However, the fact that the meeting is still continuing implies that the issue still lingers.

Never before has the president being backed into this big a corner. His many failings (the Constitutional Court ruling against him, the 783 corruption charges that most likely will be reinstated, his relationship with the Gupta family, the implications of the Public Protector’s ‘State of Capture Report’ etc) point to him being in a more desperate situation than ever before.

This makes him wounded, and as before, doubtless he will paint himself as the victim of a conspiracy, claiming that he has done nothing wrong. (The precedent here is when he didn’t see anything wrong with the state paying for non-security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead). However, if his supporters in the NEC rally around him and the motion is voted down, he will go on the offensive like never before.

Let’s remember that this is a president who. for the duration of his term in office – and until he vacates the Union Buildings – has done nothing but try to exploit the state to his own ends to the detriment of the citizens of the country and the constitution he swore to uphold. And after the ANC’s dismal performance in the 2016 Local Government elections, he now is at the helm of a divided cabinet, and a clearly fractured NEC.

Everything points to the sad reality that he will not seek to bridge the divisions of the party and his cabinet, but rather to use it to his advantage to advance his goal of a total capture of state institutions. No doubt he pressured the current Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to lay charges against her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela, over the leaking of an audiotape of a four-hour interview she had with President Jacob Zuma with regard to her report. And this is only the latest in a long line of attempts to capture state institutions.

If Jacob Zuma survives today, and I think he will, but only just, he will feel emboldened and continue unfettered in seeking to destroy his enemies within the party. Most likely, he will start with a show of strength at the ANC’s January 8 statement, and follow it up with a cabinet reshuffle, thereby sidelining his detractors and strengthening his grip on the party and state.

His recent utterances in the Parliamentary Question and Answer session about the politicisation of sovereign downgrades indicate that he has no intention of stimulating the economy and he has little understanding of, nor willingness to, attract foreign direct investment. Add to this his constant fight to remove the Minister of Finance through spurious means, and it’s clear that the economy will deteriorate immensely, the longer he stays in power.

If, however, he is ousted, it will not signal the end of the capture of the state. Those clinging on to him for their spot at the trough will no doubt continue to defend their positions, which will lead to further infighting in the ANC, which will yield even more looting of the state.

All of this will come at the expense of job creation, economic growth and building of a capable state. This will put the country in a more precarious position, and a downward spiral, affecting the poor the most.

And whether he goes or not, the poor will not be better off, and it’s only a matter of time before this class stands up to him like never before. And that might be the point of no return for Jacob Zuma, and quite possibly, the ANC.

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