How long can the Zuma presidency hold?
and state capture issues is that the ANC is now more circumspect and people in the senior leadership, including secretary general Gwede Mantashe, trust the evidence in the Public Protector’s report. It is unlikely that the ANC would go the same route to protect Zuma and his cohorts on state capture as they did previously.
Zuma’s presidency, meanwhile, also has to contend with the repercussions of the attempted prosecution of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Under pressure from Freedom under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation, Zuma’s office wrote to National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams say- ing he should provide the president with reasons why he should not be suspended. Two other NPA officials, Sibongile Mzinyathi and Torie Pretorius, who led the failed attempt to prosecute Gordhan and former South African Revenue Services officials Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashula, also received letters from the presidency requesting the same.
“The President has requested the three advocates to make written representations to him, as to why they should not be placed on suspension and whether to hold an inquiry into their fitness to hold office,” the presidency said. Abrahams, who tried to ingratiate himself with the president by trying to pursue Gordhan, now finds himself as the latest high-ranking official in the security and justice establishment to be compromised and thrown under the bus. The initial collusion between the NPA and Hawks over Gordhan’s prosecution has also crumbled with an irate exchange between Abrahams and Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza exposed in court papers.
Zuma’s presidency is on unsteady ground. He is juggling multiple legal processes, including trying to fend off corruption charges as a result of the spy tapes case. His im- proper relationship with the Guptas has been exposed and he faces further legal challenges as a result. Zuma’s appearances in Parliament will continue to be tumultuous as a result of his presidency being heavily compromised by the evidence of state capture. While opposition parties are mounting pressure against him, his support in the ANC is fracturing.
Zuma’s allies in Cabinet and in state institutions are also under pressure and could turn on each other — as Abrahams and Ntlemeza have done. Those who are pushing back against state capture, such as
Mantashe in the ANC and Gordhan in the state, are being strengthened by public support and civil society campaigning against Zuma.
The house of cards is trembling. It is a matter of time before more people in the ANC and the state abandon the Zuma-gupta nexus, and opt to save their own political careers. It is a long time between now and the 2019 elections for the centre to hold. If the ANC is to survive, focus needs to shift from the crumbling edifice of the Zuma presidency to the new leadership that will be elected in December 2017.
The next few months will see a shift in power away from Zuma. From then on, he will be on borrowed time. And not a moment too soon.