How long can the Zuma pres­i­dency hold?

Lesotho Times - - Leader - Cut­ting Edge ran­jeni munusamy

THE Pres­i­dency needs a war room just to keep track of the daily scan­dals, ex­posés and con­tro­ver­sies be­sieg­ing Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma, mem­bers of his Cab­i­net and gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions. On one day, the news cy­cle was con­sumed with another set of charges be­ing laid against the pres­i­dent, the Min­is­ter of State Se­cu­rity fend­ing off rev­e­la­tions about his in­volve­ment in a rhino horn traf­fick­ing syn­di­cate, the dis­clo­sure of an irate ex­change be­tween the Na­tional Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions and the head of the Hawks over Pravin Gord­han’s pros­e­cu­tion, a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into the SABC Board, and Zuma writ­ing to three Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Au­thor­ity of­fi­cials ask­ing why he should not sus­pend them. How long can this go on?

Since the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma’s pub­lic ap­pear­ances have been few and far be­tween. Ear­lier this month, he ad­dressed an ANC event at Dumbe in Kwazulu-natal when he said he was “not scared of jail”. On Tues­day, he ven­tured into flood-hit Alexan­dra Town­ship in Jo­han­nes­burg in a rare at­tempt to be pres­i­den­tial and con­nect with or­di­nary South Africans. Zuma’s pub­lic ap­pear­ances have to be un­der heavy se­cu­rity as it can­not be an­tic­i­pated how some peo­ple might ex­press their anger against the pres­i­dent.

As things stand, it looks as if Zuma might spend the re­main­der of his term fight­ing le­gal chal­lenges, try­ing to dodge ac­count­abil­ity and pro­tect­ing those in his in­ner cir­cle from fur­ther ex­po­sure. In re­cent weeks, Zuma and his min­is­ters tried to block the re­lease of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s pre­lim­i­nary re­port on state cap­ture and are now try­ing to wrig­gle out of the damn­ing ev­i­dence of col­lu­sion with the Gupta fam­ily.

On Tues­day, Demo­cratic Al­liance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane laid charges at Rose­bank Po­lice Sta­tion against Zuma and a num­ber of peo­ple im­pli­cated in the re­port, in­clud­ing the pres­i­dent’s son Duduzane, Min­eral Resources Min­is­ter Mose­bezi Zwane, Cor­po­ra­tive Gov­er­nance Min­is­ter Des van Rooyen and mem­bers of the Eskom board.

“We con­tend that the State of Cap­ture re­port by for­mer Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Ad­vo­cate Thuli Madon­sela pro­vides ex­ten­sive prima fa­cie ev­i­dence of cor­rup­tion, un­due influence and in­ter­fer­ence by Pres­i­dent Zuma, mem­bers of the Gupta fam­ily and other ac­tors — all to fur­ther their own per­sonal in­ter­ests at the ex­pense of the South African peo­ple,” Maimane said.

The charges are un­likely to lead to any in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the po­lice or pros­e­cu­tion against any of the in­di­vid­u­als im­pli­cated in the re­port. What Maimane’s af­fi­davit does is lay out in the pub­lic do­main the po­ten­tial of­fences, in­stances of al­leged cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties and abuse of po­si­tions of au­thor­ity. The af­fi­davit also breaks down the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s 355-page re­port into a con­densed, 13-page summary of the of­fences.

Zuma is still strug­gling with how to deal with the con­tents of the State of Cap­ture re­port. In writ­ten replies to par­lia­men­tary ques­tions from op­po­si­tion MPS re­leased on Mon­day, Zuma’s re­sponse to 11 of the 15 ques­tions was the fol­low­ing:

“The ques­tions asked form part of the sub­ject mat­ter of the Re­port into Al­le­ga­tions of im­proper and un­eth­i­cal con­duct by the Pres­i­dent and other state func­tionar­ies on mat­ters re­lat­ing to the re­moval and ap­point­ment of Min­is­ters and Ex­ec­u­tives of State Owned En­ter­prises. It is clear from the re­me­dial ac­tion to be taken that the Re­port is in­con­clu­sive. Af­ter the re­port was re­leased, I have since in­di­cated that I am giv­ing con­sid­er­a­tion to the con­tents of the re­port in order to as­cer­tain whether it should be a sub­ject of a court chal­lenge. I there­fore can­not an­swer these ques­tions as they form part of the said re­port.”

Zuma’s pres­i­dency is now ham­strung on the state cap­ture is­sue, just like it was caught up on Nkandla over the past few years. Af­ter a pro­tracted par­lia­men­tary process, in which the ANC went to ex­treme means to de­fend the pres­i­dent, Zuma was hauled be­fore the Con­sti­tu­tional Court and made to pay for the non-se­cu­rity up­grades at his Nkandla home.

The state cap­ture mat­ter is much more com­plex as it in­volves im­proper influence over state in­sti­tu­tions for the ben­e­fit of the Gup­tas and ap­point­ments in Cab­i­net on in­struc­tion of the Gupta brothers. The at­tempt to hi­jack the Na­tional Trea­sury through the fir­ing of for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene in­volved mas­sive fi­nan- cial losses for the coun­try and could there­fore amount to sub­ver­sion of the state.

While the Con­sti­tu­tional Court found that the pres­i­dent had vi­o­lated the Con­sti­tu­tion by not im­ple­ment­ing the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s re­port on the Nkandla mat­ter, the state cap­ture is­sue could im­pli­cate Zuma in ef­fec­tive sab­o­tage of the state.

In order to pro­tect him­self, Zuma has em­ployed his “Stal­in­grad” strat­egy of con­test­ing every­thing through ev­ery le­gal chan­nel. He also has to pro­tect oth­ers who have knowl­edge of what hap­pened and could bring down the house of cards if he acts against them.

Al­though the pres­i­dency dis­tanced Zuma from Mosebenzi Zwane’s fab­ri­cated an­nounce­ment that Cab­i­net had re­solved on the ap­point­ment of a judicial in­quiry into South Africa’s banks, no ac­tion has been taken against the min­eral resources min­is­ter. At Zuma’s last oral ques­tion ses­sion in Par­lia­ment in Septem­ber, he said he was still ad­dress­ing the is­sue with Zwane. In his writ­ten replies to par­lia­men­tary ques­tions re­leased on Mon­day, Zuma said in re­sponse to a ques­tion from DA MP David Maynier:

“I had in­di­cated in my previous re­ply that the state­ment is­sued by the Min­is­ter of Min­eral Resources, Mr Mosebenzi Zwane on 1 Septem­ber 2016, on the work of the task team es­tab­lished to con­sider the im­pli­ca­tions of the de­ci­sions of cer­tain banks and au­dit firms to close down the ac­counts and with­draw au­dit ser­vices from the com­pany named Oak­bay In­vest­ments, was is­sued in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity and not on be­half of the task team or Cab­i­net. I am not in the po­si­tion to an­swer why the Min­is­ter Zwane in his re­ply on 22 Septem­ber 2016 said that he was not speak­ing in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity. The ques­tion in this re­gard must be di­rected to the Min­is­ter.”

“I rep­ri­manded the Min­is­ter for the state­ment,” Zuma added.

He clearly can­not take any demon­stra­ble ac­tion against Zwane as they are both en­tan­gled in the Gup­tas’ po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness net­work. For the same rea­son, Zuma can­not al­low scru­tiny of Des van Rooyen’s vis­its with the Gup­tas spelt out in the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s re­port.

The meet­ings that Van Rooyen had be­fore his brief ap­point­ment as fi­nance min­is­ter could see fingers pointed di­rectly at Zuma, who has sole pre­rog­a­tive to make Cab­i­net ap­point­ments.

A ma­jor dif­fer­ence be­tween the Nkandla

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