Is ANC sailing to its death?
By insisting on carrying the Zuma albatross around its neck, the party is causing itself tremendous damage from which it may never recover
On August 8, the majority of ANC MPs voted against a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma. It is tempting to see this as marking the day when the nail was finally driven into the coffin of the ANC, whose purpose had always been service to the people and whose relationship with society was guided by the principles of respect and integrity. The principled and courageous stand taken by its 30 MPs who voted in favour of the motion, and by those who abstained and those who deliberately absented themselves from Parliament, should cause us to defer the recital of our songs of lament for an ANC whose demise is on the cards.
The message conveyed by these patriots, who must have endured the discomfort of having to support an opposition motion to unseat their own president, was that they were no longer willing to impose on the nation the authority of a leader whose avaricious behaviour has cost the nation, particularly the poor, billions in misappropriated funds.
By this act, the supporters of the motion signalled their repudiation of the debilitating corruption that has become the byword for ANC governance. Each of them was prepared to take this hazardous step in obedience to their consciences. It is inconsequential that their action was in conflict with the irrational Luthuli House injunction not to follow their conscience when casting their votes.
The nation was aghast when, thanks to the trove of leaked Gupta emails, it realised the extent of state capture, the corruption that has paralysed state-owned enterprises; when it became aware of the extent to which the management of government had been surrendered to the Gupta family.
The defiant MPs will have realised, disconsolately, that the #GuptaLeaks had evoked but a tepid response from Luthuli House, barely commensurate with the magnitude of the affront. They will have noticed how circumspect their head office has always been on the subject the Gupta corruption, as if to avoid offending a president who, in the eleventh hour of his administration, has discovered the rapacity of “white monopoly capital”.
Historians will record that, on August 8 2017, on the eve of Women’s Day, ANC MPs, in their majority, voted to retain as its president the man who in 2005 faced a rape trial, at a time when he headed the National Aids Council; who admitted to having had unprotected sex with a woman he knew to be HIV positive; who told a disbelieving world that he had taken a shower to reduce the risk of contracting HIV.
Throughout the trial, this gifted singer and dancer had sung Awuleth’ Umshini Wami (bring my machine gun) with a crowd of supporters and members of the ANC Women’s League (yes, them), the ANC Youth League and the SA Communist Party Youth League. This mob regularly attacked the integrity and moral standing of the woman who had dared to entice the Big Man. There was not a word of retribution to the baying crowd from the man whose dignity had been sullied by the seductions of a temptress.
The court found Zuma not guilty of rape. Sadly, after the case, the woman protectively known as Khwezi had to go into hiding. A year later, she was granted asylum in the Netherlands, a second exile for her. Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, alias Khwezi, a troubled soul in many ways, died in Durban on October 8 last year.
The ANC vote against the motion of no confidence will have the effect of ensuring that Zuma – who could face 783 charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering – continues as president of South Africa. The corruption charges arise from Schabir Shaik’s fraud case in 2005. Shaik was found guilty of corruption for paying Zuma R1.2 million and of fraud for writing off R1 million of Zuma’s unpaid debts. Zuma was not in court with Shaik. He assured the public that he would seek the opportunity to clear his name in court.
But Msholozi had second thoughts. He did all he could, at taxpayers’ cost, to stay out of court. The full Bench of the Pretoria High Court ruled that the dubious decision by the National Prosecuting Authority not to charge Zuma was irrational and ordered that he be charged. The party-first ANC vote has ensured that the president will, indeed, continue in office and hopefully avoid having to clear his name.
On August 8, the ANC used its majority in Parliament to ensure that the man who thoroughly embarrassed the ANC in his handling of the Nkandla debacle stays in office.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela found that some of the money government had spent should be for the president’s personal account. Zuma declined, saying he would not pay for construction work he had not requested. When he later told the Constitutional Court that he had always been willing to pay, the public was left wondering what importance the president attaches to the truth.
The Nkandla tragicomedy produced episodes that would have been amusing had they not been so distressing. Former police minister Nathi Nhleko commissioned an illegal investigation whose only object was to undermine the Public Protector’s recommendation that the president pay back the money. The conclusion of his charade was a recommendation that government pay even more money, including for such innovations as the “fire pool”. The Nkandla security upgrades project was initially estimated to cost R27 million. It ended up “conservatively” costing R246 million. The profligacy!
On August 8, ANC MPs voted to ensure that the man who counts the Guptas among his special friends stays in office. The president’s friends have a business empire that spans computer equipment, media and mining. It has made certain that the president’s family members are given shares and senior management positions in the companies it owns. This privilege is extended to his political allies as well and, Lord, do they sing for their supper. These companies do enormous business with government and its companies.
We now know that the Guptas have the de facto power to deploy ministers and senior public servants in sectors of interest to their businesses. It just so happens that triedand-tested public servants, who have sought to protect the public purse from the president’s friends and reported their corrupt intents, have ended up losing their jobs.
We also know now that the Gupta wedding party that flew into a national key point in 2013, was paid for by the South African taxpayer, courtesy of KPMG, who wrote off the merriment as a business expense. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Luthuli House argued against the vote on the false premise that supporting the opposition motion constituted the betrayal of a principle. No such principle exists.
Secondly, it argued that removing Zuma would spell the end of the ANC in government. So, if the organisation’s continuance in government must rely on the maintenance of a regimen of rampant corruption regimen and if the organisation’s attendant loss of the moral authority to lead is considered inconsequential, then nothing demonstrates more clearly the extent to which our leaders have drifted away from the masses.
One must wonder if, like sailors in the Ancient Mariner, ANC members are being called upon to carry their albatross around their necks and so consign the whole organisation to certain death.
TRUTH OR DARE Members of Parliament prepare to vote for or against the DA’s motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma in Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday