A seismic shift is under way. We are on the brink of a tipping point, beyond which there will be no chance of returning to the status quo. It’s no longer too early to prepare President Jacob Zuma’s political obituary.
A few months ago, conventional wisdom said Zuma could not be dislodged because a majority of members of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) were beholden to him. They were “captured”.
We were told the NEC was the only body with the authority to remove him. The argument was based on the assumption that the party would, in all situations, abide by its own rules. Is that assumption still valid? Not really. When the ground shifts, the game changes.
Zuma’s protective shield has been dented by electoral, judicial and alliance setbacks. When the ANC lost control of key metros, a network of patronage, much of it corrupt, unravelled.
People who depended on the ANC have been cut adrift and can no longer be relied on for support.
In the courts, Zuma suffered a significant blow when Nomgcobo Jiba was struck from the roll of advocates. As deputy national director of prosecutions, she protected Zuma and his supporters, including suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, who for years evaded charges of murder, corruption and fraud.
Mdluli, a Zuma supporter, was mentioned in last week’s Jiba judgment as one “who inappropriately suggested he was capable of assisting the president of the country to win party presidential elections in Mangaung…”
Jiba has been a biased prosecutor, pursuing those who probed Zuma-linked enrichment schemes. A prime example was the abortive attempt to prosecute KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen, who was investigating Zuma associate Thoshan Panday.
There is a pattern in the security and justice appointments that have been made since Zuma became ANC president in 2007. Each one has been flawed. And none has succeeded. National directors of public prosecutions and national police commissioners have all faltered.
Some of the choices were labelled “irrational” but there has been a consistent rationale: to keep Zuma out of court.
Despite this, Zuma’s chances of avoiding 783 counts of fraud and corruption have narrowed. In June this year, the North Gauteng High Court found that the 2009 decision to drop charges against Zuma was irrational.
Soon the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) will rule. The most likely outcome is that the NPA will be called upon to reinstate charges.
Without Jiba there to support Zuma, NPA head Shaun Abrahams may read the political and judicial winds and decide he must indeed prosecute Zuma.
Another blow to Zuma’s house of cards is a ruling this week by the SCA, which should result in the dismissal of SABC honcho Hlaudi Motsoeneng, another Zuma acolyte.
In addition, alliance partners are divided over whether to continue backing Zuma. Splits and factions are multiplying. Rats sense the ship is sinking.
There will be further legal wriggling but Zuma’s support is crumbling. If he survives in office until 2019 I’ll eat this column. The end is nigh.