Amid the increasing and vocal calls for him to step down, President Jacob Zuma is probably thinking of fleeing the country, according to political analyst professor Andre Duvenhage.
Speaking to The Citizen on Tuesday, Duvenhage said Zuma would find it particularly difficult to survive politically over the next few months, especially after ratings agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) Global decision to downgrade South Africa to junk status due to what it termed “elevated” political risks.
According to Duvenhage, a united approach by the country’s opposition parties, planned mass demonstrations and rumours of the ANC’s integrity committee formulating a letter in which they call for the resignation of the president would be too much pressure for one individual to bear.
The pressure on Zuma also includes pending court cases against him, Duvenhage said.
“The tide is definitely against Number 1, and I don’t see him going past the month of May,” the analyst said.
Duvenhage warned of a possibility of bloodshed in the process of trying to get the president out of office, saying the pro-Zuma grouping had vested interests and would probably do whatever it took to protect Zuma.
“Violence will be an automatic outcome of this process. In fact, we have now reached a tipping point,” he said.
“A march on Luthuli House [ANC headquarters] by opposition parties is something that should never even be considered. Instead they [opposition] must align themselves with the ANC and the disgruntled members in the ruling party,” Duvenhage said.
Commenting further on the S&P downgrade decision, Duvenhage said the only thing investors were interested in was strong and objective leadership with high integrity.
Another analyst, Ralph Mathekga, said the S&P decision did not come as a surprise, especially to policy makers, including Zuma.
“Zuma cannot say he did not see this coming, especially after his Cabinet reshuffle last week and, while I don’t think there were deliberate attempts to sabotage the economy, being stubborn is the major issue that has brought us here. Yes, you might have executive powers to effect changes to your Cabinet, but you can’t just do it willy-nilly,” he said.
“The markets have rejected the new finance minister, Malusi Gigaba, because of his credibility, but now that he is in charge of Treasury, he has a lot of work to do; while on the other hand, a Zuma resignation or recall might be a point of reprieve,” Mathekga said.
Meanwhile, the SACP on Tuesday also said it was planning mass demonstrations calling for Zuma to step down.