Zuma is dragging the ANC down the drain

Monday July 3 2017

South African President Jacob Zuma gesturing as he delivers a speech during the ANC's Fifth Annual Policy Conference in Johannesburg on June 30, 2017.

South African President Jacob Zuma gesturing as he delivers a speech during the ANC's Fifth Annual Policy Conference in Johannesburg on June 30, 2017. He has been weakened by growing criticism from within the ruling ANC party, will face a vote of no confidence in parliament on August 8, officials announced on July 2, 2017. PHOTO | MUJAHID SAFODIEN | AFP 

By CHEGE MBITIRU
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To give a twist to a Beatles’ song to describe South Africa President Jacob Zuma, “He’s a really nowhere man; sitting on his nowhere place…”

It ends there. He’s unlike anyone in the realm of common sense.

A week ago, Mr Zuma went to the National Assembly for a routine Q &A session. It’s a South African improvement of Africa’s presidential system—unquestioned a president in the Big House dispenses the “good for our people,” or slyly, “for the nation.”

DOING VERY WELL

Pressed by some legislators on a variety of problems in once prosperous country, that he’s spiralling toward a shell, Mr Zuma boasted confidence in his leadership: “I am fit and I am doing it very well,” he said. Is he?

Mr Zuma politically fought to become third president in 2009. He was already tainted by an arms purchase deal scandal, but delivered a saintly speech.

He essentially got to the top through a flaw in the rules of the African National Congress, meaning the party’s National Executive Committee presidential nominee is home “free and dry.”

LIBERATION MOVEMENT

The ANC is the continent’s oldest liberation movement cum political party, and rightly popular not only among South Africans, but elsewhere. Until last year, it was a political buffalo.

Mr Zuma’s presidency and personal life have been plagued by scandals deserving an encyclopaedia.

For a starter, the economy, once the largest in Africa, albeit not necessarily beneficial to the majority, is nearly in a coma, unemployment at 27.7 per cent highest in 14 years, and credit worthiness rated junk by two of three top rating agencies.

LEAKED E-MAILS

The latest scandal emerges from leaked e-mails between senior ANC officials and members of a wealthy family’s influence in the affairs of state, how those officials have benefited, dates, locations, amounts, et al.

“They [e-mails] are real because I am in them,” wrote a respected columnist and television personality, detailing how the family attempted to “pocket” him.

Consequently, opposition to the ANC’s stewardship under Mr Zuma has mounted.

Since April, for example, only before a selected audience can the president speak without provoking heckling.

VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE

Before Mr Zuma went to the Q&A session, the Constitutional Court had ruled on a petition filed by opposition parties on whether assembly members could use secret ballot vote on a pending motion of a no-confidence in Zuma. He boasted he has survived seven.

In terms of political tactics, the opposition hopes disgruntled ANC legislators would vote as they see fit without fear of retribution.

The court unanimously ruled National Assembly Speaker Beleka Mbete has constitutional right—she had claimed otherwise—to allow or disallow a secret ballot vote.

BRIBE-TAKING

That’s not necessary, retorted Zuma; the old way, with him watching, remains fine.

The court though alluded to the malaise in Mr Zuma’s administration, writing “Crass dishonesty in the form of bribe-taking or other illegitimate method of gaining undeserved majority must not be discounted from the Speaker’s decision process.”

Ms Mbete, a Zuma ally, may or may not allow a secret ballot vote. Whichever way, the fact remains the president is dragging the ANC and, worse, the country, down the drain. That’s no common sense.