Zuma falls! And then what do we do?

Get­ting rid of Zuma isn’t as cut and dried as many think, writes

CityPress - - Voices -

When South Africans take to the streets in num­bers in sup­port of #Zu­maMustFall, what do they ac­tu­ally want? For Zuma to just re­sign, and then what?

His deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, takes over and all will change for the bet­ter? It sounds so neat and au­to­mated. But I don’t know if real life works like that.

We ended the year with un­prece­dented ac­tion since 1994: cit­i­zens em­bark­ing on coun­try­wide marches call­ing for the serv­ing state pres­i­dent to step down im­me­di­ately.

There was pal­pa­ble anger every­where as peo­ple felt be­trayed by Zuma’s need­less tam­per­ing with the fi­nance min­is­ter post – tam­per­ing that wiped bil­lions from the econ­omy. Those who still stood by him were rare, but the out­rage against him was not enough for his po­lit­i­cal party to push him out.

As he presided over an­other chess tour­na­ment and treated the el­derly with good­ies this fes­tive sea­son, Zuma would surely have been pon­der­ing the close shave he had just en­coun­tered.

Shorn of their rhetoric, the far left have le­git­i­mate con­cerns and point out that those who os­ten­si­bly march for “change” in ef­fect want the sta­tus quo that ben­e­fits a few to re­main, while the poor re­main on the side­lines and the struc­ture of the econ­omy re­mains un­tam­pered with.

All of our fi­nance min­is­ters have fol­lowed the same fis­cal dis­ci­pline and kept tight con­trol over the spend­ing and use of lim­ited state re­sources.

This ex­plains why Zuma thought that re­mov­ing “an in­di­vid­ual” while the eco­nomic poli­cies re­mained un­changed would not be much of an is­sue.

Our wily pres­i­dent long ago fig­ured out that the only way to re­move him from of­fice would be through the ANC’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, which he has packed with loyal acolytes.

So those who think the ANC will get rid of him to­day bet­ter think twice. He is here to stay, un­less, of course, or­di­nary South Africans in­ter­vene de­ci­sively.

The only way to shake the Te­flon pres­i­dent would be to pun­ish the ANC at the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions by vot­ing for the op­po­si­tion. But this, of course, would have un­in­tended con­se­quences, as the good guys in the sys­tem who are run­ning their cities com­pe­tently, such as Johannesburg ex­ec­u­tive mayor Parks Tau and Tsh­wane ex­ec­u­tive mayor Sputla Ramok­gopa, would also be ca­su­al­ties.

All the same, the truth is that if th­ese met­ros and other towns were to fall into op­po­si­tion hands, the gov­ern­ing party would be forced to take a long, hard look at it­self.

At the mo­ment, the party still dis­plays com­pla­cency and a half-hearted ac­knowl­edg­ment of prob­lems. It is as if own­ing up to prob­lems would leave it vul­ner­a­ble to the enemy. But it is also an ar­ro­gance that says “our peo­ple” will never aban­don us.

A true whack­ing in the lo­cal polls could be a gamechanger. It would still not guar­an­tee Zuma’s re­call, though, be­cause his supporters in the se­nior struc­tures would fight tooth and nail to de­fend him and si­lence his crit­ics in­ter­nally.

With Ramaphosa in­tent on not rock­ing the boat and not get­ting his hands dirty, Zuma might be around for longer than many think.

Let’s care­fully pon­der what we ac­tu­ally want in a post-Zuma era. Let’s de­fine the per­son­al­ity and char­ac­ter of the dis­pen­sa­tion we want be­yond re­mov­ing the in­di­vid­ual Zuma.

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