After President Jacob Zuma’s so-called survival at the ANC’s National Executive Committee gathering this week, there’s already talk that he may oust those ministers who disagree with him.
The NEC meeting - which I can only imagine was heated - was preceded by several concerns over Zuma’s ability to steer the HMS South Africa into calmer economic waters.
Zuma’s relationship with the controversial Gupta family, his bid to quash former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into state capture, the charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, and the leadership turnstile last December at the National Treasury have all weighed heavily on South Africa.
The rand, although somewhat stronger after Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, has come under incredible pressure with each of these incidents.
And the economy - ironically unlike Zimbabwe’s expected growth - is really not expected to grow this year, and grow so minimally next year that you might blink and miss it.
Inflation is at 6.4 percent officially. To me, it feels more like double that.
Many of these woes are being laid at Zuma’s door, even though one man cannot be responsible for all of SA’s problems.
However, he does lead this magnificent country. And often, to my mind, is not as hands-on at leading as he is at fending off questions in Parliament, and attending events in other countries.
And then there’s the chance he may be prosecuted again over the “spy tapes” saga - something the Democratic Alliance has been pushing for.
That saga, which dates back to 2001, involves 783 charges against Zuma, mostly around corruption. They were initially laid, and then withdrawn, in 2009 after Zuma claimed phones were tapped in a conspiracy against him.
Some members of the ANC have had enough.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom on Saturday proposed the NEC’s motion of no confidence in Zuma. Those also calling for Zuma to step down were Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, and Jackson Mthembu, the ANC’s chief whip in Parliament, Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA reported, without saying where it got the information.
After the NEC meeting, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe told a news conference that the top decision-making unit of the ANC did not support the call for the president to step down. “This issue was debated openly, robustly and, as we said, sometimes it was very difficult for members themselves.”
The question now is: will we see a Cabinet shuffle so that Zuma can get rid of those he deems to be against him? Sure, the ANC has said it’s not aware of any such thing, but it’s Zuma who decides.
I can well imagine that Hanekom, Motsoaledi, Nxesi and Pandor will be in that firing line.
These, incidentally, are generally good ministers - whose portfolios are well run and who generally don’t need a smack from the auditor-general each year. We can’t lose talent like that.
One other name I would add to that list is Gordhan.
Many have perceived the charges laid against him as a battle for control of the country’s purse strings. And as punishment for him standing up to the Guptas.
Gordhan is not a “yes man”. He stands up for what is right. And he puts the economy first.
Sure, he’s not the best public speaker as he is rather stoic, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have safe hands.
And, even though Zuma has publicly said he supports Gordhan, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s shuffled to some lesser known ministry, or becomes a diplomat.
And that, as we have already seen, would be a death knell for the country’s economy.
Should that happen soon, we will be downgraded to junk, and the rand will plummet.
We cannot afford to do more harm to our beautiful country.
* Nicola Mawson is the online editor of Business Report. Follow her on Twitter @NicolaMawson or Business Report @busrep.