Will the ANC act now?
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.