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Amnesty if Zuma goes?

2017-02-15 10:34

President Jacob Zuma (File: AFP)

President Jacob Zuma (File: AFP)

Adriaan Basson

Would South Africans be willing to let President Jacob Zuma off the hook to see the back of him?

Those in the know think that legal amnesty may be the only option left to remove Zuma from his position as state president before his term ends in 2019, which has now become a matter of urgency.

Neither the country, nor the ANC can afford Zuma any longer.

I wrote a similar column in 2014 and was admonished by the ANC for my “desperate and futile campaign” to get rid of Zuma. In the past three years, Zuma has done a sterling job himself of proving not only to his critics, but to his own party why he is unfit to govern.

His State of the Nation Address was nothing more than a poorly executed cut-and-paste exercise mixed with alternative facts to showcase Zuma’s newfound zest for “radical economic transformation”.

But the emperor was naked.

On his left – dressed in red overalls and hardhats – sat the real politicians who had placed economic freedom at the centre of our political discourse.

Not without fault, the EFF has been successful in championing the cause of landlessness, the skewed ownership of capital and the slow pace of transformation in numerous sectors.

With able assistance from his friends in Saxonwold, Zuma is now attempting to hijack this cause for his own political survival. “Radical economic transformation” will be his fight song in 2017, whenever he is challenged by forces from within the ANC and outside.

He will fob off criticism with expensive spin that “white monopoly capital” is attempting to hijack the state by getting rid of him, as if Johann Rupert, Christo Wiese or Nicky Oppenheimer (or Patrice Motsepe, for that matter) have any inclination to fix potholes or run hospitals.

Let’s be clear: there is a serious conversation to be had about economic transformation or the lack thereof 23 years after democracy. Yes, great strides have been made by the ANC (Zuma was silent on this in his SONA speech) and the private sector, but much more needs to be done.

And let’s be as clear: Jacob Zuma is not the man to head this new struggle. Zuma has spent 19 years as a member of the executive in KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa.

In KwaZulu-Natal he was MEC for economic affairs. As deputy president since 1999 he had the highest level of access and influence on the ANC’s and the country’s economic policy. If he had not been radical for 19 years, he will not be radical now.

Those who buy into Zuma’s latest rhetoric should ask Zwelinzima Vavi, Julius Malema and Blade Nzimande to show them their Polokwane battle scars.

The only radical thing to have happened under Zuma’s presidency was the radical capture of the state by Zuma’s family and friends, the Guptas.

This includes the radical empowerment of Zuma’s son, Duduzane, and nephew, Khulubuse; the radical abuse of an air force base by the Guptas; the radical expenditure on Zuma’s Nkandla homestead and the radical looting of money from state-owned enterprises to enrich the businesses of the Zuptas.

No wonder the fight-back has been so radical. The Zuptas have everything to lose. They are fighting for their lives when they are not flying to Dubai on unknown business. The “analysis” of their favourite commentator Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi, who arrived with Duduzane at SONA, has become more radical in recent days.

Who knows what’s happening behind the scenes. Who knows why Duduzane left his family in a Melrose Arch restaurant recently and dashed off to join arms deal playboy Fana Hlongwane in his navy blue Bentley. Where did they speed off to?

How much or little do we actually know of what’s going on? Maybe there will be a KPMG report in the future that will bring all these puzzle pieces together.

What is clear is that Zuma is politically much weaker than a year ago. He is “paranoid” about the possibility of an attack or a coup; physically or politically. That’s why he needs soldiers to protect him at SONA and a friendly successor to protect him from jail.

No wonder murmurings of legal amnesty if he goes are picking up steam again. This time even the most rigid constitutional purists may be willing to bend the rules to see the back of our deeply dishonoured president.

– Adriaan Basson is the editor of News24. Follow him on Twitter: @adriaanbasson.

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