Will the ANC act now?

CityPress - - Voices -

Just four months af­ter the 2012 Man­gaung ANC con­fer­ence – where Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma was re­in­stalled as leader of the ANC – the Gupta fam­ily used Air Force Base Waterk­loof in Pre­to­ria to land a plane filled with the fam­ily’s wed­ding guests.

South Africans ex­pressed out­rage at the vi­o­la­tion of one of the coun­try’s most im­por­tant na­tional key points, call­ing it an abuse of state re­sources and na­tional se­cu­rity. Some even com­pared the in­ci­dent to hap­pen­ing upon a stranger ly­ing com­fort­ably in your bed.

There was over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence that the land­ing in this tightly con­trolled mil­i­tary base was en­abled by the dis­con­cert­ingly cosy re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Gupta fam­ily and Zuma.

De­spite this, blame was laid squarely on mil­i­tary of­fi­cials, who were ei­ther de­moted or re­de­ployed. The ANC ral­lied around Zuma and ac­cepted that his only link to the scan­dal was name-drop­ping by in­dis­creet of­fi­cials.

Fast-for­ward to March 2014, when the then pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela re­leased her Se­cure in Com­fort re­port. It con­tained find­ings that Zuma had un­duly ben­e­fited from the non­se­cu­rity up­grades to his Nkandla home.

In­stead of tak­ing this as an op­por­tu­nity to call their leader to or­der, the ANC went around in cir­cles. The party bull­dozed through a par­lia­men­tary process, in ef­fect over­rul­ing the pub­lic pro­tec­tor. A lousy bio­scope was pro­duced in an at­tempt to con­vince the na­tion that the swim­ming pool was, in fact, a fire pool and the chicken coop a se­cu­rity fea­ture.

For two years fol­low­ing the re­port’s re­lease, none of the ANC lead­ers took on Zuma about the Nkandla re­port or dared call on him to pay up.

Then, in March this year, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court ruled that Madon­sela’s find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions for re­me­dial ac­tion were bind­ing. In its scathing judg­ment the apex court said Zuma and Par­lia­ment had vi­o­lated the Con­sti­tu­tion by ig­nor­ing the re­port of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor.

Still the ANC did noth­ing. In­stead, the party faith­ful saluted Zuma for his fake apol­ogy and ex­pressed con­fi­dence in a man who had vi­o­lated his solemn oath of of­fice.

In Au­gust, South Africans af­forded the ANC yet an­other wake-up call when they put three key met­ros in the hands of other po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

By ei­ther vot­ing for the ANC’s op­po­nents or stay­ing away from the polls, they were telling the for­mer lib­er­a­tion move­ment to lis­ten. The vot­ers were un­equiv­o­cal in show­ing the ANC that it, along with South Africa, had lost di­rec­tion un­der Zuma.

Again, the ANC re­fused to lis­ten, de­cid­ing in­stead to take “col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity” for this lat­est hu­mil­i­a­tion.

With the Au­gust wound still fresh, the State of Cap­ture re­port was re­leased this week – af­ter spir­ited at­tempts by Zuma and his cronies to block it. The nau­se­at­ing find­ings pub­lished in the re­port gave the ANC an­other chance to dig deep within for the courage to ad­mit that South Africa would fare bet­ter if it were run by Walt Dis­ney’s Goofy char­ac­ter than by Zuma.

The re­port was un­am­bigu­ous: From that in­fa­mous land­ing at Waterk­loof in 2013 by Gupta fam­ily and friends, it was clear that the Gup­tas were de facto ap­point­ers of min­is­ters in Cab­i­net – a duty which is the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of the pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic.

This dilemma prompted the ANC’s youth and women’s leagues to re­tal­i­ate by mak­ing de­mands which have noth­ing to do with what Madon­sela has in­ves­ti­gated. Their call for a probe into state cap­ture by white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal be­fore 1994 has no bear­ing on the cur­rent con­tro­versy about Zuma’s re­la­tion­ship with the Gupta fam­ily.

The leagues go even fur­ther, say­ing the Zu­maGupta tie should not be in­ves­ti­gated un­til the pre-1994 busi­ness re­la­tions are probed. This can­not be.

The lat­est re­port of­fers yet an­other op­por­tu­nity for the ANC to look within and ask the tough ques­tion of whether it can con­tinue on this de­cline and wait un­til the next elec­tions in 2019.

The an­swers may not be sim­ple, but the ANC knows full well that the man at the helm is lead­ing the coun­try to damna­tion. Party lead­ers may not care about the coun­try, but surely they care about their ca­reers – be­cause, at this rate, the ANC stands a good chance of los­ing power in 2019.

From to­day, the ANC’s lead­ers are sched­uled to con­vene an ex­tended, two-day na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee to dis­cuss the cur­rent state of af­fairs. Some loyal Zuma sup­port­ers – in­clud­ing a naked cook, a ro­tund youth leader and a fe­male boss who is for­ever chew­ing her own teeth – will do their damnedest to de­fend Zuma and pro­long the agony of their party and the coun­try. Let them not pre­vail.

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