Where shall we optimists pin our hopes, now that President Jacob Zuma is reinvigorated?
Every time we turn on the TV, Zuma is preaching racist radical economic ruination. That’s his response to marchers who want him to step down. Even if hundreds of thousands marched every day, Zuma would stay put.
So, what options remain?
Two obvious mechanisms are a parliamentary no-confidence motion, or a decision by the ANC’s highest decision-making body, the national executive committee (NEC).
Which of these is Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa banking on? Ramaphosa and company have not given up. It is misguided to think a unified ANC has forgiven Zuma for his junk-inducing Cabinet reshuffle.
Four of the ANC top six missed Zuma’s 75th birthday bash. Ramaphosa, along with treasurer Zweli Mkhize, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and chair Baleka Mbete had better things to do.
Zuma’s critics did not back down at the April 5 meeting of the ANC national working committee (NWC), nor did they apologise. The game is on. What cannot be retracted is the theme of “renewal” which Ramaphosa has repeated since the reshuffle.
Because he uses circumlocution, Ramaphosa must be quoted at length: “What is happening now is a process that is going to trigger that renewal … we all need. What you are required to do as citizens … is to support … the efforts that are going to be made by those who want to make sure that our country lives up to the values of Nelson Mandela …. support those who will be leading that charge because a moment of great renewal is upon us and we should not let it go by.
“That moment has arrived and let us act together in unity. Unite our movement, unite our country around one goal – the goal of making South Africa great, the goal of making South Africa corruption free … and getting rid of greedy people, corrupt people.”
Renewal? Getting rid of greedy people? Geddit? Over Easter, Ramaphosa said leaders must listen to the protesters.
Conventional wisdom says Zuma has majority support in the NEC. Yet that may no longer be true. Remember that MPs who have recently resigned from parliament do not relinquish their NEC positions. They could still vote against Zuma in that forum.
However, if no NEC meeting is imminent, Parliament could be the testing ground.
At issue there is whether MPs should be allowed a secret ballot. They have been warned that they will lose their jobs if they vote against Zuma. While the Constitutional Court has yet to rule, and the no-confidence vote has been delayed, the tide in the assembly could be moving against Zuma.
Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett, writing in the Sunday Times, said unreasonable instructions to MPs to vote against their conscience and toe a party line on a no-confidence motion would be illegal and unenforceable.
You will recall that Zuma bowed to Gauntlett’s wisdom when the lawyer appeared for him at the Constitutional Court in the Nkandla matter. Now Gauntlett has opened the door for ANC MPs to do the right thing. That is reason for hope. Change is coming.