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Zuma won’t make 2015

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President Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma is going to be South Africa’s president after next year’s election. But I’ll bet my bottom dollar that he won’t still be the president of the country by the end of 2015, says Max du Preez.

He’ll most likely be asked to gracefully exit by the ANC, but it is also possible that he will be jailed or impeached long before his five-year term is over.

It would be in the ANC’s and South Africa’s interest if he could leave not long after the election – if the ANC lost five or so percent support in that election it could speed up the process. The country and the ruling party simply cannot afford a president who is completely pre-occupied with staying out of court and constantly plagued by scandal after scandal. The political temperature has been rising steeply over the last two years and there is very little leadership from the president and his cabinet to deal with it.

Zuma has already utterly compromised the criminal justice system during his campaign to stay out of court on hundreds of criminal charges. The intelligence services, especially the critically important crime intelligence unit, do little else than spy on and manipulate Zuma’s political opponents. They are more concerned with the media, the trade unions, judges, ANC dissidents and NGOs than on keeping the country safe. Expect to hear the name of dirty cop and former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, Zuma’s fiercest bulldog, a lot more in the months ahead.

How it handle the crisis will be an important test for the ANC. This could influence the party’s fate in the election of 2019.

The problem is that the political futures of most of the senior leaders in the cabinet and Luthuli House are tied up with that of Zuma. They can be expected to discard all principle and decency in their efforts to keep Zuma in power and so save their own careers. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela should expect a lot of vitriol, gossip and dirty tricks coming her way in the coming months.

The simple fact is that most of the senior people around Zuma are either senior leaders of the SACP or from KwaZulu-Natal or Zulu-speakers. Without Zuma, the SACP will become an empty shell, especially now that its worst enemies – the Economic Freedom Fighters and militant trade unionists threatening to break away from Cosatu – have stolen their only raison d’être as communists: occupying the commanding heights of the economy.

At least for the next few months, the ANC machine will spin into overdrive, muddying the waters, creating endless smoke and mirrors to limit the damage of the Nkandla scandal. It will most likely inject race into the propaganda campaign and, in at least one province, ethnicity. It has good experience in confusing and bamboozling ordinary voters. It will probably be fairly successful, especially in KZN, the ANC’s stronghold, where the assault on Zuma is already painted as an anti-Zulu campaign.

But Nkandla and the highly irregular way the criminal charges against Zuma were dropped will not go away. Not only politically, but it will definitely land up in our courts again and again. Zuma has successfully dodged many bullets, but one of the next ones is likely to penetrate his armour.

The public protector’s leaked provisional report on Nkandla should not have been a surprise. Common sense says a swimming pool, a cattle kraal, amphitheatre, visitors’ centre, tuck shop, extensive paving and houses for relatives could in no way be classified as “security upgrades”. The spin doctors can spin as much as they want, but few will buy convoluted arguments about why these were necessary to make the president’s private homestead safe.

Which means the president lied to Parliament when he said he and his family paid for everything but the security upgrades. The head of state willfully misled the representatives elected by the people to the highest law-making body in the country. This is not just a fib during an election campaign; this is deadly serious, like perjury.

Prime Minister John Vorster and his most senior cabinet minister, Connie Mulder, had to resign in disgrace when they were caught lying to Parliament (then lilywhite) about the Info Scandal in 1979.

I bet Cyril Ramaphosa, destined to be our deputy president after next year’s election, is now regretting his decision to make a political comeback after 16 years in business. He is a man deeply concerned about his legacy and will not want to be remembered as the politician who propped up a corrupt president. What will he do now?

I hear there are already conversations about the legality or not of a presidential pardon or a plea bargain (without jail time) regarding a crime with a minimum sentence.

* Max du Preez is an author and columnist.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Pretoria News


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