While there is no certainty on President Jacob Zuma’s future in office, he is a weakened leader who is on his way out. Following the unforgiving State of Nation Address (Sona) debate on Tuesday, analysts say Zuma is a president who has lost all integrity. And should the Constitutional Court rule against him in terms of him violating the Constitution with regard to the public protector’s report on Nkandla spending, the next step must be for him to resign or be removed as president.
Political analyst Elvis Masoga said DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s consistent use of the term “Planet Zuma” during the debate was a poetic representation of what Zuma has become, as he has far removed himself from South Africa.
“This is a president who does not consider the plight of the poor, while he enjoys multimillion-rand luxury in his Nkandla home. Zuma does not care anymore about the criticisms levelled against him.”
Zuma’s future will be determined by the ruling ANC sooner or later, he said.
Constitutional law expert Shadrack Gutto said: “Zuma is in a situation where the court is more likely not to rule in his favour, but in favour of the complainants. There is legislation dealing with executive members and the National Key Points Act.
“I don’t see how it won’t rule against Zuma,” he said.
“That’s the end of the road for Zuma. The judgment may well indicate that he violated the constitution. From there on he must act on that – to resign or they may remove him.
“The EFF and DA may invoke a section of the constitution calling for his removal or a vote of no confidence. Removal is more probable,” Gutto said.
The DA, the EFF and Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had a sound legal basis for this to be a possible outcome in terms of Constitutional legislation, he said.
If Zuma did not comply “there will be a serious crisis”, Gutto said.
The opposition parties earlier this month took Zuma to court, two days before he delivered his Sona, for not complying with the directives of the public protector’s report into the R246-million security upgrades into his Nkandla homestead.
She recommended he should pay back some of the money as she found he had unduly benefited from non-security upgrades.
Two years on, the court heard that Zuma will now pay back the money as there had been an “error of law”.
But the court heard from legal representatives for the EFF and the DA that he had, in effect, violated the constitution.
Political analyst Daniel Silke said coupled with the Constitutional Court case was Zuma’s recent axing of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, which saw the rand plummet to an all-time low.
The Sona debate yesterday saw attacks on Zuma which were both personal and uncomfortable as opposition parties continued to weaken his position as president, Silke said.
“They kicked him down when he is already down.”
Maimane was also looking to drive a wedge between Zuma and his ministries, he said.
“The president is in the weakest position – compounded by Nkandla and Nene. By the weak economy it looks as though the finance ministry is calling more of the shots.”
Should Zuma survive the court ruling, he will remain tarnished, creating instability in the ANC.
“The real issue is … to what extent will they find him too much of a liability,” Silke said.
He predicted the ANC will “go with Zuma” into the local government elections later this year.
“Performance (in the poll) is important. If they are embarrassed at the polls this will be a catalyst for more change, perhaps in his position.”