All eyes will be on President Zuma

Cheeky DA posters urging South Africans to "Stop Zuma" have appeared on lamp posts after charges against ANC President Jacob Zuma were dropped.

Even if the campaign to stop Zuma fails, Helen Zille, leader of the current official opposition, will not stop attacking the ANC leader in public, even if he becomes the country's president after today's elections.

Zille, who launched the "Stop Zuma" campaign, has been on a crusade against Zuma, criss-crossing the country to warn people of the "dangers" of a Zuma presidency.

She says that if Zuma gets a two-thirds majority today, the powerful and well-connected will have a free rein to engage in corruption.

Opposition parties, including Cope, have joined Zille in a bid to have the decision to drop fraud and corruption charges against Zuma reviewed by the courts.

Such has been the hostility towards Zuma and the ANC that main opposition parties have centred their campaign drives on efforts to stop him and his party.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, whose party's power base in KwaZulu-Natal is under threat because of Zuma's popularity, has warned that the NPA's decision not to prosecute has not exonerated Zuma and that a cloud still hangs over his head.

It is evident that when he becomes president, as expected, his tenure will be under close scrutiny from opposition parties.

The opposition will head to the new Parliament with sharpened knives, ready to dissect every move Zuma and the ANC make.

His speeches, his appointments to the cabinet and other state organs and entities, his relationship with the judiciary and his execution of his presidential powers will be watched closely as his detractors expect him to fumble and stumble.

It is also his relationship with the judiciary that opposition parties will focus on in the early stage of his presidency.

His reckless utterances that Constitutional Court judges were not God have not helped much.

The ID has put up posters that scream: "Put criminals in jail. Not in government", an indirect reference to Zuma's legal troubles. ID leader Patricia de Lille says that if Zuma becomes president, her party will ask him uncomfortable questions, as it did Thabo Mbeki.

"In terms of our constitution, we will not allow him to trample all over our constitution. We will remind him about the separation of powers and respect for the judiciary," she says.

De Lille hopes that Zuma will use his power to launch a commission of inquiry into the arms deal and that he will stick to his election promises and act against underperforming ministers. "I hope he will get rid of those useless ministers whose departments carry over budgets and who fail to implement. I hope we will see during his presidency that he will fire such a minister."

The ACDP echoes De Lille's sentiments on the judiciary. The party said Zuma would not be allowed to intimidate judges as Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF did in Zimbabwe.

"We will not allow him to undermine the judiciary and the rule of law and make South Africa a banana republic," says ACDP leader the Rev Kenneth Meshoe.

Meshoe says the ACDP will oppose, for example, the appointment of Ngoako Ramatlhodi as national director of public prosecutions.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa says he worries about the manoeuvring that the ANC and Zuma's minders will have to engage in to stop him from making his trademark gaffes, such as launching damaging attacks on state institutions.

"Those around him will have a big task to… protect him because they know his weaknesses, especially around the lack of control of his own finances."

Holomisa says his party will also scrutinise Zuma's statements on the judiciary and his attitude towards judges.

Cope believes that any person who is given the responsibility to manage the country should - as a rule - be kept under close scrutiny at all times, no matter who they are.

"We want to make sure that each and every person given the responsibility to lead on behalf of our people is subjected to intense scrutiny on issues of values, corruption and on service delivery," says spokesman Sipho Ngwema.

UCT political analyst Zwelethu Jolobe notes that former US president George Bush attracted hostility on his first day on the job - and Zuma will probably get the same treatment from opposition parties.

"The opposition (parties) do not perceive him as suitable for the job because of the circumstances surrounding his coming into power. They have already written him off even before he has sat in the Union Buildings and had his first cup of coffee. Like Bush, who experienced protests at his inauguration, expect the same thing (with) Zuma. They (the opposition parties) will try and scrutinise his every move, no matter how arbitrary," he says.

But while Zuma will be under the watchful eye of opposition parties, Jolobe says he will probably face even closer scrutiny from his own party.

In the same way the ANC leadership was able to hold Mbeki to account after Polokwane, leading to his recall, it will not spare Zuma if he messes up, Jolobe says.

"Numerically, opposition parties are too small to hold the president accountable. The tripartite alliance and to some extent the media and social groups are more likely to make him account," he adds.



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