Steven Motale
3 minute read
3 Apr 2014
10:00 am

The road to a dictatorship

Steven Motale

If he wants to, Jacob Zuma can effortlessly become a dictator.

Sunday Independent Editor, Steve Motale

After all, fertile ground has already been cultivated for him to go this route.

Even before he assumed power, Zuma’s loyalists have been hard at work to shield him from accountability and to make sure he is immune from prosecution. They have been toiling to create conditions that will make him account to no one but himself.

Under dictatorships, leadership is given to a single man and no criticism against the tyrant is tolerated. In most cases the leader is likened to God. We have a long way to go to despotism, but already dictatorial tendencies are at play. One dodgy Zuma loyalist, ANC Northern Cape chairman John Block, reportedly believes that walking with Zuma is like walking with God. ANC Youth League leader Mzwandile Masina has for a while been lobbying for a law that would guarantee immunity from prosecution for Zuma, while the South African Communist Party in KwaZulu-Natal has in the past advocated for a law protecting Zuma from “insults and attacks”.

Some will argue that South Africa has very strong Chapter Nine institutions that safeguard our democracy, including the office of the Public Protector. This is true, but sustained attacks on Thuli Madonsela aimed at weakening her office and subsequent calls for this office to be disbanded by Zuma’s supporters should never be taken lightly.

Zuma loyalists have proved in the past they are capable of destroying any institution they view as a threat to their leader. Remember the demise of that successful elite policing unit?

Madonsela is now perceived as the latest threat to Zuma, hence calls for the disbandment of her office. He may not have gone far with his formal education, but make no mistake, Zuma is no fool and is taking full advantage of the blind loyalty of his backers. His response to Madonsela’s recommendation that he repay a portion of the money spent on non-security items smacks of arrogance. Speaking for the first time since Madonsela released her report, Zuma said: “They did this without telling me, so why should I pay for something I did not ask for?”

Only a leader who knows he is untouchable can afford to address his people like that.

Regardless of Madonsela’s damning findings, the ANC is rallying behind its man and has no qualms with him leading the party and the country after the May 7 elections. And as the election date draws closer, expect nothing but praise-singing for Zuma from those positioning themselves for lucrative jobs.

This is already in full swing, judging by insane attempts to justify Nkandla spending. Who in their right mind will view this scandalous abuse of the public purse as an investment? Well, according to ANC Gauteng provincial executive committee member, Uhuru Moiloa the upgrades to Zuma’s home were “a necessary investment”. The dictionary definition of the word investment is ”an asset or item that is purchased with the hope that it will generate income or appreciate in the future”. Moiloa must tell us who the beneficiary of this “investment” is and what the rewards are for the people of South Africa who bankrolled this ”investment”.

It is people like Moiloa and his cohorts whose ill-advised bid to keep a fatally compromised leader in power has the potential to turn this beautiful country into a dictatorship.